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SB-659 California Environmental Quality Act: attorney’s fees: infill housing.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 05/06/2019 02:00 PM
SB659:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  May 06, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  April 29, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  March 27, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 659


Introduced by Senator Borgeas

February 22, 2019


An act to add Section 21175 to the Public Resources Code, relating to environmental quality.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 659, as amended, Borgeas. California Environmental Quality Act: attorney’s fees: infill housing.
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires a lead agency, as defined, to prepare, or cause to be prepared, and certify the completion of an environmental impact report on a project that it proposes to carry out or approve that may have a significant impact on the environment or to adopt a negative declaration if it finds that the project will not have that impact. CEQA establishes procedures by which certain parties may file an action or proceeding challenging the lead agency’s action on the ground of noncompliance with CEQA.
Existing law authorizes the court, upon the motion of a party, to award attorney’s fees to a prevailing party in an action that has resulted in the enforcement of an important right affecting the public interest if 3 conditions are met.

This bill would authorize a court, in an action or proceeding brought under CEQA on a project involving the development of housing at an infill site, to award reasonable attorney’s fees to a prevailing respondent or real party in interest if the court finds the petitioner used actions, tactics, or claims, made unreasonably or in bad faith, that are frivolous or intended to cause unnecessary delay.

This bill would, in an action or proceeding related to a project involving the development of housing at an infill site brought pursuant to CEQA, authorize the court, upon motion of a party, to award reasonable attorney’s fees to a party if the court makes certain findings. The bill would require the Judicial Council to adopt a rule of court to implement this provision.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NOYES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 21175 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

21175.
 (a) The court may, upon motion of a party, award reasonable attorney’s fees to the party in an action or proceeding filed pursuant to this division if the court finds that all of the following apply:
(1) The party is a prevailing party, as defined in Section 1032 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
(2) The petitioner used actions, tactics, or claims that were both of the following:
(A) Made in bad faith.
(B) Frivolous or intended to cause unnecessary delay.
(b) This section only applies to an action or proceeding related to a project involving the development of housing at an infill site.
(c) The Judicial Council shall adopt a rule of court to implement this section.

SECTION 1.Section 21175 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:
21175.

(a)The court may, upon motion of a party, award reasonable attorney’s fees to a prevailing party, as defined in Section 1032 of the Code of Civil Procedure, that is the respondent or real party in interest in an action or proceeding filed pursuant to this division if the court finds the petitioner used actions, tactics, or claims, made unreasonably or in bad faith, that are frivolous or intended to cause unnecessary delay. If the respondent and real party in interest prevail on some, but not all, of the claims made in the action or proceeding, the court shall determine the reasonable attorney’s fee based on the relative percentage of each claim on which the respondent and real party in interest prevail relative to the entirety of the action or proceeding.

(b)This section only applies to an action or proceeding related to a project involving the development of housing at an infill site.