In Coastal Act Protectors v. City of Los Angeles (2022) 75 Cal.App.5th 526, the Second District Court of Appeal held a lawsuit alleging the City of Los Angeles was required to obtain a coastal development permit (CDP) prior to the adoption an ordinance imposing restrictions on short-term vacation rentals was subject to the 90-day statute of limitations in Government Code section 65009 subdivision (c)(1)(B). Because the lawsuit was not filed with 90 days, the court dismissed the case.
The City adopted an ordinance imposing restrictions on short-term vacation rentals in December 2018. More than a year later, Coastal Act Protectors (CAP) filed a lawsuit seeking a writ of mandate to enjoin the City from enforcing the ordinance in the Venice coastal zone until the City obtained a CDP pursuant to the California Coastal Act, arguing that the ordinance constituted a “development” under the Act.
The trial court concluded that the 90-day statute of limitations in Government Code section 65009, subdivision (c)(1)(B), applied to the City’s adoption of the ordinance, and CAP’s petition was therefore untimely. It reasoned that the City’s purported duty to obtain a CDP was a procedural task to perform in enacting a lawful ordinance; therefore, CAP’s petition challenging the City’s failure to obtain a CDP constituted an action to “attack, review, set aside void, or annual” the decision of the City to adopt the ordinance, bringing it within the ambit of Government Code section 65009 subdivision (c)(1)(B). The trial court also addressed the merits of the petition and concluded that the ordinance was not a “development” under the Coastal Act. CAP appealed.
Court of Appeal’s Decision
On appeal, CAP argued that the City’s purported failure to comply with the Coastal Act when it adopted the ordinance was not an “action” or “decision” contemplated by section 65009 of the Government Code, but was instead subject to the three-year statute of limitations in Code of Civil Procedure section 338, subdivision (a), for actions “upon a liability created by statute.”
The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court that CAP’s petition constituted an action to “attack, review, set aside void, or annual” the decision of the City to adopt the ordinance, and therefore, the 90-day limitations period applied. The court explained that, unlike in cases where it would have been impossible for a petitioner to bring a lawsuit within 90 days, the Coastal Act predated the County’s ordinance. If the City did have a duty to obtain a permit for application of the ordinance to residences in the Venice coastal zone, the court held, that duty would have existed when the City enacted the ordinance. The statute of limitations in the Government Code therefore applied. Because CAP waited over a year to file suit, the Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court that the petition was untimely. The court concluded by noting its determination comported with the Legislature’s stated intent to “provide certainty for property owners and local governments regarding” local zoning and planning decisions. (Gov. Code, § 65009, subd. (a)(3).)
Since its holding on the statute of limitations issue was dispositive, the Court of Appeal did not address whether the ordinance constituted a “development” subject to the CDP requirements of the Coastal Act.
– Elizabeth Pollock