Land Use & Commercial Development
Litigating land use matters is extraordinarily complicated.
Depending on the ordinances of your city, the process usually begins at the planning or building departments with the issuance or denial of a conditional use permit, a building permit, demolition permit, or variance. If the developer is unhappy with the city’s decision, an appeal can be taken to the next level administrative body. Sometimes that administrative appeal is heard by the board of supervisors; sometimes it is heard by a specialized board of appeal. From there, if the terms of the permit, or the denial, is still unsatisfactory, the land developer can take a section 1094.5 administrative writ of mandamus to the Superior Court of California.
This is where we come in, litigating the matter before a judge.
But be very careful. The evidentiary record available to the Superior Court judge is limited to the record as considered by the city in issuing its original decisions. As a general matter, no new evidence may be submitted to the judge. You are locked into the body of evidence as was submitted to the city down below. This means that the record must be carefully crafted years before the writ is ever taken to the Superior Court. In this way, litigants should be thinking about their end-game, even at the very beginning of their land permitting process.