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Legal news briefs: Review denied on HSR, Westlands; no publication on SD's 'SOHO' case, and more

In brief legal news this week:

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Rail car builder calls off Palmdale expansion citing union pressure

Local political and business figures have joined Kinkisharyo International in blaming union-linked complaints, including a CEQA appeal, for deterring an expansion of the company in Palmdale. Kinkisharyo currently assembles light rail cars for LA Metro at a temporary plant. The expansion could have made it a major local manufacturing employer for the longer term.

An Unfortunate Education in Prop 13

As if we needed another story about Prop 13's unintended impacts on education, here's a new twist. 

Monterey Peninsula faces tough choices to meet water deadlines and needs

From many vantage points, the Monterey Peninsula looks idyllic. But it's always been a mess when it comes to water politics.

Throw in a long stalemate on solutions among the stakeholders, along with a disliked private water utility, administrative and judicial orders to cut back existing water supplies, no connections to state water – and a drought – and it's hard to see a clear path out of this morass.

DWR must reopen environmental review on the Kern Water Bank

About 20 years after the Monterey Agreement sewed up disputes among contractors of the State Water Project (SWP), opponents of the deal have come as close to unstitching it as they've been in many years.

In an October 2 ruling on the Kern Water Bank cases, Judge Timothy Frawley ordered the EIR on the "Monterey Plus Project" settlement to be revised and submitted for recertification, but with the revisions to focus only on the environmental impact of the "use and operation" of the Kern Water Bank.

Study finds a few ways to lower affordable housing costs per unit

California's state housing finance administrators published a long-delayed study October 13 on the cost of building affordable housing. It found no single factor to blame for California's high costs per unit. But it said economies of scale tend to help, and multiple layers of restrictions don't help, and that perhaps cost containment should be a more important factor in awarding housing tax credits.

CP&DR News Summary, October 8, 2014: State Supreme Court to review Friant Ranch case, Laguna Beach activists win a round, LA issues transportation plan

The California Supreme Court agreed on October 1 to review a major CEQA case, Sierra Club v. County of Fresno, (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 704, in which the Fifth District Court of Appeal blocked the "Friant Ranch," a large planned development focused on seniors' housing. (See prior coverage at http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3504.)

SGC revisits key questions on proposed cap-and-trade program design

This week the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) came back to some questions on distributing cap-and-trade proceeds that were asked but not conclusively answered this summer -- and hinted that maybe these are the tough ones. The occasion was a public airing at the Council's October 6 meeting for a recently circulated draft of proposed guidelines for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program.

Atkins appoints Urban Land Institute ED to Strategic Growth Council

Speaker Toni Atkins of the California Assembly on October 2 appointed Gail Goldberg to one of two new public-member positions on the Strategic Growth Council (SGC). The SGC is about to set major aspects of policy for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities cap-and-trade grantmaking program. (See prior coverage at http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3578.)

CP&DR News Summary, September 30, 2014: Merced CAG approves new RTP/SCS; Antelope Valley Area Plan approved, and more

The Merced County Association of Governments board approved a Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy September 25. Choosing between a "Scenario A" that assumed continuing growth trends, and a "Scenario B" that presumed a 35% density increase over current trends, the board chose "B". Neither version meets the Air Resources Board's prescribed goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 10% by 2035, so an Alternative Planning Strategy will need to be prepared as required under SB 375.

Governor's signing decisions – Key land-use bills plus picks from the SGF 'Greatest Hits'

In this review of Governor Brown's signing and veto decisions, which by law were due September 30, we start with outcomes on some bills previously covered by CP&DR during the year, then move on to excerpts from the "Greatest Hits" list maintained by Senate Governance and Finance Committee staff: