By: Steven M. Taber, Esq.
On May 29, 2020, the California State Judicial Council amended its California Rule of Court, Emergency Rule No. 9, which it had entered in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic and the Governor’s declaration of a statewide emergency. The amendment will affect the filings of actions under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Emergency Rule No. 9, which was effective April 6, 2020, tolled the statutes of limitations for all civil causes of action until 90 days after the Governor lifted the state of emergency. The Governor has yet to lift the state of emergency and there are no plans that the state of emergency will be lifted any time soon.
In response to pressure from various housing groups and building developers, the Judicial Council has now, effective May 29, 2020, amended its Emergency Rule 9 so that:
- Causes of action with statutes of limitations of 180 days or less are tolled from April 6, 2020 to August 3, 2020;
- Causes of action with statutes of limitations that exceed 180 days are tolled from April 6, 2020 to October 1, 2020.
Filing deadlines under CEQA are generally 30 days (Notice of Determination), 35 days (Notice of Exemption), thus, CEQA statute of limitations will stop tolling on August 3, 2020. This decision will also affect the 90-day limitations periods in the Planning and Zoning Law as well as the Subdivision Map. The Judicial Council reasoned that the amendment to the Emergency Order will provide “litigants with greater certainty.”
As a reminder, the amendment ends the tolling period, not the limitations period. After August 3, 2020, the remaining number of days left in applicable statute of limitations will still run. That is, if there were 10 days left in a limitation period on April 6, 2020, there would be 10 days left in the limitation period on August 3, 2020. Additionally, project applicants and public agencies seeking to invoke the CEQA statute of limitations should be mindful of the need to keep CEQA notices posted for the full statutory period, as well as to consider the provisions of Executive Order N-54-20, which states that it suspends the filing requirements for CEQA notices until June 22.
If you have any questions regarding Emergency Rule 9 or CEQA compliance, please contact Steven M. Taber.
Steve is a Partner at Leech Tishman and is based in the firm’s Pasadena office. He is a member of the Environmental, Corporate and Litigation Practice Groups. Steve can be reached at 626.796.4000 or via email at email@example.com.
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