The trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding plaintiff private attorney general fees under CCP 1021.5 after plaintiff prevailed on a writ of administrative mandate overturning six of eight zoning code variances that the City of Los Angeles had given Target. The trial court correctly found that plaintiff was successful in obtaining the writ and that it achieved a substantial public benefit in forcing the city to adhere to its planning and zoning ordinances. The Court of Appeal rejected Target’s argument that the court should withhold a decision on these two elements of a 1021.5 award pending the city council’s action on proposed code amendments that would make the six variances legal. Success is assessed in terms of the relief sought in the complaint, not in terms of a supposed ultimate objective (here, supposedly preventing the construction of a Target store). And both success and benefit are measured against the relief the court can award, not in view of later out-of-court actions over which the court exercised no control.
California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 2 (Hoffstadt, J.); May 3, 2018 (partial publication); 2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 396