Kristen Castaños

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Kristen Castaños, is a highly respected California environmental and land use lawyer. Known for her practical and business-focused advice, Kristen works with commercial, industrial and energy developers on due diligence, compliance and related litigation involving California’s key environmental and land use laws, including the California Environmental Quality Act, the California Williamson Act, the Warren Alquist Act and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act. Kristen also works with municipal and public entity clients, having successfully represented several California counties, municipalities and a redevelopment agency on CEQA and related land use issues.

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California Environmental Law Blog Launches New Responsive Design and Enhanced Reader Features

Dear California Environmental Law Blog readers. We launched this blog in 2011 to help us keep you informed about developing environmental stories that impact the California business community. While our commitment to keep you informed hasn’t changed, technology has. More than three years ago, we were still operating in a desktop- and RSS-dominated world. Today, … Continue Reading

Governor Signs Two New CEQA Bills

Governor Brown has signed two new bills amending the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  AB 52 establishes new consultation procedures with California Native American tribes, and provides that an adverse change to a tribal cultural resource is a significant impact under CEQA.  AB 1104 extends an existing CEQA exemption for certain pipeline projects to biogas … Continue Reading

What’s a ROG and Can It Hurt Me? EIR Overturned For Failure to Explain Air Quality Impacts to Human Health

In Sierra Club v. County of Fresno (Cal. Ct. App. 5th Dist. May 27, 2014), the Fifth Appellate District found fault with the County of Fresno’s (County)  review of the Friant Ranch Project (Project) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The appellate court concluded that the County’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) did not sufficiently … Continue Reading

Court Clarifies “Taking” Of Endangered Species And Highlights What’s “Enough” Under CEQA

In Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Dep’t of Fish & Wildlife, No. B245141 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Mar. 20, 2014), the appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision, which found that the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (“Department”) certification of an environmental impact statement and report (“EIR”) was “not supported by substantial evidence.”  In … Continue Reading

City Officials Dodge Disclosure of Private Emails and Texts Under Public Records Act

In a case that seems sure to jump-start legislative activity in Sacramento and throughout the state, the court in City of San Jose v. Superior Court (6th App. Dist., Mar. 27, 2014), held that communications regarding City business sent or received by a City of San Jose official (here, the mayor, council members, and their … Continue Reading

Upcoming Seminar: California Land Use Law & Policy Conference

Stoel Rives is a proud sponsor of California Land Use Law & Policy Conference, featuring partner Kristen Castaños, who will speak on “A View to the Future—Anticipated Legislation and Regulation Impacting Land Use.” Stay up to date on renewable energy permitting, SB 375 and “fracking” regulation under SB 4, among many other topics. Receive $100 … Continue Reading

Governor Brown Signs SB 743 – The CEQA Reform That Wasn’t

On September 27, 2013, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 743, bringing to a close a legislative session full of surprises when it comes to CEQA reform.  SB 743 paves the way for streamlined judicial review of the proposed new Sacramento Kings downtown arena and sets forth a few additional streamlining provisions under the California Environmental … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Requires Calculation of Current Emissions in GHG Analysis Under CEQA

Authored by Carissa Beecham In Friends of Oroville, et al. v. City of Oroville, et al. (“Friends of Oroville”) (filed and published in part on August 19, 2013), the Third District Court of Appeal partially reversed the trial court in finding that the City of Oroville’s (“City”) EIR improperly analyzed the greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions … Continue Reading

CEQA Baseline Analysis: Future Conditions Baseline Should Be the Exception Not the Rule When Agency Reviews Environmental Impacts, Says Divided California Supreme Court

In Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority (filed August 5, 2013) (“Neighbors”), a majority of the California Supreme Court justices announced a new rule regarding the baseline agencies may use when conducting a CEQA analysis of a project’s environmental impacts. Specifically, the Court ruled that CEQA does not prohibit the exclusive … Continue Reading

California Appeals Court: Air Resources Board Low Carbon Fuel Standards Regulations Violate CEQA

In Poet, LLC et al. v. California Air Resources Board et al., the Fifth Appellate District held the Air Resources Board (“ARB”) violated CEQA and the APA with its approval of the Low Carbon Fuel Standards (“LCFS”) regulations, and ordered the lower court to issue a peremptory writ of mandate, requiring ARB to take certain … Continue Reading

California Appellate Court Issues Significant Opinion Regarding CEQA Administrative Records and the Common Interest Doctrine

In Citizens for Ceres v. The Superior Court of Stanislaus County, City of Ceres, et al., (filed and published in part by the Fifth Appellate District on July 8, 2013), the petitioner in a CEQA lawsuit sought relief from the appellate court ordering the trial court to require production of thousands of pages of documents that … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Takings – Demand for Monetary Exaction as Permit Condition Can Be an Unconstitutional Taking

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision today in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, ruling that a monetary exaction that is improperly imposed as a permit condition can amount to a taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The decision is significant because it allows a takings claim … Continue Reading

Senator Steinberg’s CEQA Reform Bill Falls Short of Expectations

On Friday, February 22, Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) introduced a bill outlining proposed revisions to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  A substantial CEQA reform bill championed by Senator Michael Rubio (D-Shafter) was highly anticipated in this legislative session.  But, earlier in the day on Friday, Senator Rubio announced his resignation from the California State Senate … Continue Reading

Senator Rubio Resigns: Is CEQA Reform Dead?

Senator Michael Rubio (D-Shafter) announced today that he is resigning from the California State Senate, effective today.  Senator Rubio made headlines at the end of the 2012 legislative session when he introduced a bill to significantly reform the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  At that time, he agreed to work with Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) … Continue Reading

Fresno Court Denies Farm Bureau Challenge to Williamson Act Cancellation for Solar Project

The Fresno County Superior Court has denied the California Farm Bureau Federation’s challenge to Fresno County’s cancellation of a Williamson Act contract to accommodate a solar generating project.  The decision is the first to take on the interplay between the Williamson Act’s goals to protect agricultural land and the State’s directive to increase reliance on … Continue Reading

Newly Published CEQA Decision Sets Precedent Regarding EIR Project Alternatives

My colleague, Barbara Brenner, posted an environmental law alert on the recently published CEQA decision issued by the California Third District Court of Appeal in Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Ctr. v. County of Siskiyou, No. C064930, 2012 Cal. App. LEXIS 1088 (Cal. Ct. App. Sept. 26, 2012).  The case is significant because it provides precedent … Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Interior Moves to Streamline Solar Development in the West

On July 24, 2012, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced that it will publish the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (“Solar PEIS”) for solar energy development in six southwestern states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.  The Solar PEIS is a major step ahead in the permitting of utility-scale solar energy on public … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Upholds Legislation to Eliminate Redevelopment Agencies, Invalidates Option for Agencies Survive by Sharing Tax Revenue

In a decision reflecting perhaps the worst-case scenario for the redevelopment community, the California Supreme Court largely upheld Assembly Bill X1 26, which requires the dissolution of redevelopment agencies across the State, but invalidated Assembly Bill X1 27, which would have given redevelopment agencies an option of continuing to exist if the agencies shared their … Continue Reading

Governor Brown Signs Two More Bills to Streamline Renewable Energy Development in California: SB 267 and SB 618

California has two more laws in place to help facilitate development of renewable energy projects after Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 267 and Senate Bill 618 over the weekend.  SB 267 modifies the existing requirements to prepare a water supply assessment for projects that meet certain size thresholds.  Under the new law, a photovoltaic or … Continue Reading

Ban on Plastic Bags Provides Definitive Rule on CEQA Standing

The California Supreme Court’s ruling on Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City of Manhattan Beach decided two important issues regarding the interpretation and application of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  First, the Court decided the city of Manhattan Beach was not required to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR) under CEQA before enacting … Continue Reading

EBMUD’s CEQA Review of Water Supply Plan Found Partially Inadequate

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley’s recent ruling (PDF) in the case challenging East Bay Municipal Utility District’s (EBMUD) approval of its updated water supply plan is a reminder of the importance of fully disclosing potential impacts of a project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), even when the CEQA project is a programmatic … Continue Reading
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