California Government Code Section 66474

Government Code section 66474 sets forth a list of findings that, if made, require "a legislative body of a city or county" to "deny approval of a tentative map," including, among other things, that the proposed map or the design or improvement of the proposed subdivision "is not consistent with applicable general and specific plans." ( 66474, subds. (a), (b).) "Perfect conformity is not required, but a project must be compatible with the objectives and policies of the general plan. A project is inconsistent if it conflicts with a general plan policy that is fundamental, mandatory, and clear." (Endangered Habitats League, Inc. v. County of Orange (2005) 131 Cal.App.4th 777, 782.) In addition, section 66474 requires a local government to deny approval of a tentative map if it makes any of the following findings: "(c) That the site is not physically suitable for the type of development. (d) That the site is not physically suited for the proposed density of development. (e) That the design of the subdivision or the proposed improvements are likely to cause substantial environmental damage or substantially and avoidably injure fish or wildlife or their habitat. (f) That the design of the subdivision or type of improvements is likely to cause serious public health problems. (g) That the design of the subdivision or the type of improvements will conflict with easements . . . ." Section 66427.2 of the Subdivision Map Act exempts condominium conversion projects from the requirements of sections 66473.5 and 66474 "unless applicable general or specific plans contain definite objectives and policies, specifically directed to the conversion of existing buildings into condominium projects or . . . unless new units are to be constructed or added." ( 66427.2.) In California, local governments are charged with decisionmaking in land use and planning. (Griffin Development Co. v. City of Oxnard (1985) 39 Cal.3d 256, 265-266.) The City, as the local "planning agency," is required to adopt a comprehensive, long-term general plan for its physical development ( 65300), and its zoning and subdivision approvals must be consistent with the general plan. (DeVita v. County of Napa (1995) 9 Cal.4th 763, 772.) The general plan "provides the blueprint for development throughout the community, and is the vehicle through which competing interests and the needs of the citizenry are balanced and meshed." (See Barclay, Curtin's California Land Use and Planning Law (30th ed. 2010) p. 9.) Cities may, but need not, address condominium conversions directly in their general plan. (Bownds v. City of Glendale (1980) 113 Cal.App.3d 875, 884-886 (Bownds).) Cities may regulate condominium conversions as an exercise of their police power, but their approvals of such conversions involving five or more units also are governed by the state's Subdivision Map Act, because such projects are considered a form of subdivision. (Santa Monica Pines, Ltd. v. Rent Control Board (1984) 35 Cal.3d 858, 868-869; Government Code 66424.) The Subdivision Map Act generally requires that a condominium conversion project be submitted for approval via a "tentative . . . map." ( 66411, 66426.) Government Code Section 66473.5 provides that a local government agency may not approve a tentative map "unless the legislative body finds that the proposed subdivision, together with the provisions for its design and improvement, is consistent with the general plan," meaning it "is compatible with the objectives, policies, general land uses, and programs specified in such a plan." ( 66473.5.)