On August 9, 2019, Sean Hecht and Benjamin Harris of UCLA Law School’s Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic filed an amici curiae brief on behalf of the League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties in Chevron v. County of Monterey.
The brief argues that California cities and counties possess broad authority to regulate and govern land uses for the general welfare under their local police power. In this case, the people of Monterey County enacted an initiative, Measure Z, that amended the Monterey County General Plan to limit or forbid certain land uses supporting oil and gas drilling countywide. This action falls squarely within the inherent power of local governments, and the initiative’s approach squares with the reach of local government authority recognized in the California and federal Constitutions, in case law over the past century, and implicit in the state’s statutory provisions governing oil and gas drilling.
The Clinic represents cities and counties in California whose decision-making authority will be jeopardized if the Court of Appeal adopts Respondents’ arguments. The brief concludes that the trial court’s decision undermines California cities’ and counties’ well-established authority to govern land use for the general welfare under its police powers in the context of regulation of fossil fuel extraction, and the Court of Appeal should decline Respondents’ invitation to unsettle the law.