Court of Appeal applies 90-day statute of limitations to city denial of zoning change

General Development, LP v. City of Santa Maria (January 25, 2012)

Cal. Court of Appeal (Second District, Division 6) B228631

The Court of Appeal held that the short 90-day statute of limitations contained in Government Code section 65009 barred a later-filed action by a developer challenging a city decision denying a zoning change. The developer argued the plain meaning of section 65009(c)(1) only barred actions filed after 90 days “To attack, review, set aside, void, or annul the decision of a legislative body to adopt or amend a zoning ordinance.” Because the city had merely denied developer’s request for a zoning change, developer argued such section did not apply.

The Court of Appeal disagreed. Section 65009(b)(1) states the shortened statute of limitation applies to any “action or proceeding to attack, review, set aside, void, or annul a finding, determination or decision of a public agency made pursuant to this title at a properly noticed hearing … .” The Court agreed with the trial court, the California Supreme Court, and a District Court decision that the foregoing language is not limited to only those decisions that adopt or amend a zoning ordinance, but, rather, applies to any decision by a legislative body involving planning or zoning. Further, the legislative intent is to avoid placing any cloud over the property; that is best accomplished by applying the shorter statute of limitations rather than the general three-year statute of limitations applying to real property.


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