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Posts on Jan 1970

Parking at the San Luis Obispo Courthouse

Have you ever parked at a non-functioning parking meter to run to the court and returned to your car to find a traffic citation on your windshield?  The laws about broken meters vary from city to city and just like they always say, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

When I checked with the City of San Luis Obispo, I was told the vehicle must be moved to another meter in case the (non-functioning) meter suddenly clears itself.  If you choose not to move the vehicle, have someone stay with the car in case the meter begins to work so they can pump in some coins or use a cash key or credit card.  It might be difficult for a law office with limited staff having an employee  sit in the car and keep an eye on the parking meter.  Better to just move the car.  Parking is enforced from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The City of SLO has a color-coded map to let you know what kind of parking meters you can expect to find in the downtown area.  You can get the parking map from the City of San Luis Obispo website at and click on “Parking Map”.  Every office doing business with the court or City offices should have one.

And at the Paso courthouse, there is no problem with parking meters – yet.

In Ventura County, parking is just plain prohibited at a broken meter.  In Santa Barbara County, it is allowed, but only for 45 minutes.  Some larger cities have begun installing “smart meters” that supposedly self-report maintenance issues.  Usually, there is no way for the municipal authority to know that a meter is broken unless someone reports it – that’s most likely to happen after getting a citation for parking next to one.

It’s best to call the municipality to ask what the local policy is before leaving your car at a broken meter location.  Parking tickets can be expensive!

Ellen Sheffer

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Fast Tracking Lawsuits Challenging Large Construction Projects

In an effort to address the State’s alarming unemployment rate, certain large construction projects which implement innovative measures to reduce environmental impacts will be processed under new procedures designed to fast track such projects.

The Jobs and Economic Improvement through Environmental Leadership Act (the “Leadership Act”) was signed by Governor Brown last year and took effect January 1, 2012. The Leadership Act establishes an expedited process for judicial review of lawsuits challenging a project’s compliance with the environmental review required by the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) for certain large projects.

In order for a project to qualify, the project must (1) be related to the clean energy industry or non-industrial development projects that comply with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) energy-efficiency standards and are located on an infill site; (2) result in a minimum investment of $100,000,000; (3) create high-wage, highly skilled jobs that pay prevailing wage and living wages and provide construction jobs and permanent jobs for Californians; and (4) not result in any net additional emission of greenhouse gases.

In addition, the project applicant must enter into a binding and enforceable agreement that all mitigation measures will be conditions of approval and will be fully enforceable by the lead agency. Further, the project applicant must agree to pay the costs of any hearing challenging the project.

The Governor must certify each project individually for streamlining under the Leadership Act. If the Governor determines that a project qualifies, that determination must be submitted to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee for their review which must make a determination within thirty days of receipt of the determination.

The draft and the final environmental impact report for a project that has been deemed to qualify under the Leadership Act must include a notice that the environmental impact report is subject to the procedures set forth in the Leadership Act. The lead agency processing the project application must prepare the administrative record concurrently with the administrative process and certify the administrative record within five days of its approval.  This ensures that if the project is challenged the administrative record will already be prepared and available.

If the environmental review of a project that qualifies under the Leadership Act is challenged, the action will go directly to the California Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal will have 175 days to issue its decision. This will greatly decrease the time within which CEQA challenges are typically resolved. Such challenges usually are commenced in the superior courts and may take several months to one year to resolve. This expedited judicial process will allow project applicants to receive a final determination sooner, which will allow construction to commence sooner.

The Leadership Act is scheduled to sunset on January 1, 2015.  The legislation states the purpose of the Leadership Act is to provide unique and unprecedented streamlining benefits for a limited period of time to put people to work as soon as possible.

The full text of the Leadership Act can be accessed at:

Carmel & Naccasha has lawyers who are familiar with the California Environmental Quality Act and the new Leadership Act, should you desire any additional information.

Heather K. Whitham

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Guidelines for Creating Professional E-mail Messages

The rapid growth of the use of e-mail as a professional communication tool has necessitated the development of guidelines, or “netiquette” in handling, managing and writing e-mail.  Here are some common pitfalls to avoid:

Who among us has mistakenly chosen “reply” when that is not what we intended?  Be careful to review who will actually receive the message, especially when you were simply copied on the original message.  Always take a second look at the recipient of your message.  One way to reduce the chance of sending a message to an unintended recipient is to forward, rather than reply, to messages.  By doing so, you must insert the name of the recipient.

Flag a message as “Urgent” only when it truly is.  This rule also applies to requesting that the recipient indicate the message has been received and read.

Do not slide on proofreading, spell checking, and reviewing for proper grammar and syntax.  Using e-mail does not excuse us from communicating in a professional manner.  This extends to using appropriate fonts, formatting and stationery.

Do not use stationery that makes it difficult to read the text.  Many firms avoid the use of stationery altogether.

Beware the use of taglines; your audience may not share your personal philosophy and may, indeed, be put off by the views expressed.  The content of the message is what should take center stage.

Curb the need to respond to every message.  When the exchange reaches a natural stopping point, stop.

Include a signature line that provides enough information for the recipient to know exactly who you are, your firm, your title, and appropriate contact information.  Some people may prefer to respond to an e-mail with a phone call.

Using an informative subject line will assist the recipient to search for and find the message later.

E-mail is here to stay, and stay, and stay.  Your message is forever so think twice before committing your thoughts to posterity by sending them in an e-mail.

Ellen Sheffer                                Leslie Donahue  

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