State of California
Pete Wilson, Governor

Governor's Office of Planning and Research

Lee Grissom, Director
Robert Cervantes, Chief, Planning Unit
Antero Rivasplata, Chief, State Clearinghouse

1400 Tenth Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
916-445-0613

March 1989


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The Governor's Office of Planning and Research gratefully acknowledges the prompt suggestions and incisive commentary that two individuals provided. Daniel L. Curtin, Jr. of McCutchen, Doyle, Brown, and Enersen and Debra L. Cauble, Senior Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Jose, both reviewed a recent draft of this edition and made valuable contributions to the final product.

Jose R. Ramos, Senior Deputy County Counsel, Monterey County, Philip W. Block, Merced City Planning Director, and Glen D. Worthington, formerly Principal Planner, City of Ontario, all offered comments on the earliest draft of this edition.

We also extend our thanks to the Monterey County Planning Department, the Alameda County Planning Department, and the Santa Barbara County Resource Management Department for their cooperation by furnishing exemplary staff reports.

Last, but not least, the following former staff members reviewed portions of the index or otherwise assisted in its compilation:

DeAnn Baker
John M. Ferguson
Karen A. Keene
James Goodfellow

Randy Pollack and Barbara Martinez, both former staff members, also contributed many hours to this project.


TABLE OF CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION

TOPANGA: THE CORNERSTONE FOR FINDINGS
Definition
Purpose
Circumstances Requiring Findings

JUDICIAL STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Traditional Mandamus (Or Ordinary Mandamus)
Administrative Mandamus
Substantial Evidence Test
Independent Judgment Test
Appellate Review
Principles Regarding Standards of Review
Land Use Control by Initiative and Referendum

OTHER GUIDELINES FOR MAKING FINDINGS

PREPARATION OF FINDINGS: A QUESTION OF TIMING AND JUSTIFICATION

SUMMARY

Table:
Local Land Use Decisions and Judicial Standards of Review

List of Cases Cited

Appendix:
Index of Statutorily Required Findings for Regional and Local Government Land Use Decisions in California

A Selected Bibliography on Land Use Findings


INTRODUCTION

In recent years, the struggle over land use planning and development has become more intense in state and local legislative arenas and the courtrooms. Typically, the parties have focused on issues like general plan adequacy, environmental impact report adequacy, voter-enacted growth controls, taking without compensation, and exactions. These controversies have had their share of impacts upon the continuous evolution of modern day planning in California. Meanwhile, a less heralded but equally important progression is affecting the way local officials must explain their land use decisions through the adoption of findings. Many citizens, planning commissioners, elected officials, and planning department staffs have indicated concern for a clearer understanding of what courts and state laws require in the realm of findings. In response, the Office of Planning and Research has prepared this advisory memorandum to explain the legal basis for findings. While this memorandum attempts to present the most current information available regarding findings, land use legislation and case law periodically establish new rules. For this reason, local agencies should consult their attorneys for advice on the latest developments.


Next:
TOPANGA: THE CORNERSTONE FOR FINDINGS

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