May 2010


Court Upholds Broad Use of Housing Funds

Use of redevelopment funds by a city-formed nonprofit organization to develop school administrative buildings and a housing project with units reserved for low- and very low-income residents was valid and did not require voter approval, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled. 

In reaching its decision, the court had to interpret the various restrictions in redevelopment law as well as Article 34 of the state constitution.  

Article 34 as part of the California Constitution, adopted by voters in 1950, had the effect of requiring voter approval of “low rent housing projects.” Over time, the Legislature has codified various interpretations of Article 34, excluding from the voter approval process certain types of affordable projects. On a parallel path, the Legislature has modified redevelopment law to ensure that cities spend a certain amount of their tax increments on affordable housing. 

SB 375 And Political Realities

When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in California, one size does not even come close to fitting all.

That’s all I could conclude after the SB 375 Regional Targets Advisory Committee (RTAC) and metropolitan planning organization (MPO) representatives touched on an amazing array of policy and technical issues during an all-day meeting on Tuesday.

All right, I could also conclude that what has been a highly technical process may be on the verge of becoming very political.

Brentwood's Measure F Tests Definition of 'Control'

Even as commuters have grown weary of the long drive from the western edge of the Central Valley to the employment centers of the Bay Area, a group of landowners in Brentwood see robust development opportunities. The formerly diminutive Contra Costa County city, now of 51,000, is hotly debating what its next round of expansion will look like. 

At issue is the fate of a 740-acre tract of largely undeveloped land, which lies to the west of the county urban limit line that governs Brentwood but is nonetheless already addressed in its general plan. That plan calls for up to 579 homes to be built on the property, which is owned by only five landowners, in the event that the land was annexed by the city. Measure F, however, would expand the urban limit line and in so doing authorize a 20-year development agreement for up to 1,300 homes and 30 acres of commercial development. 

How Can a Broke State Fund Housing for People Who Are Merely Poor?

(Please note that the word “draconian” does not occur once in the following post concerning the ongoing budget debacle. Readers susceptible to cliché-induced seizures (CIS) can read this article without ill effect.)

By his own characterization, the governor's latest proposal attempts to close the $19 billion shortfall in the coming year's budget almost entirely through cuts. For CP&DR readers, it's probably unnecessary to explain that many of these cuts affect – or have effectively eliminated – services for low-income people, not limited to affordable housing, health care and early childhood education. Hell, we can't even afford our prisons—an irony well deserved by the Lock-'em-Up State. 

Eastvale Will Decide Whether it Can Afford Cityhood

Riverside County has gained the dubious distinction of being one of the foreclosure capitals of California, if not the country. 

One bright spot, however, has been the unincorporated community of Eastvale, which has grown from an exurb of scattered homesteads a decade ago to a major unincorporated bedroom community of roughly 40,000 residents. 

"Eastvale is really leading Riverside County in its ascendance from the recession," said Jeff DeGrandpre, president of the Eastvale Incorporation Committee.  

On June 8 Eastvale residents will consider Measure A, a multi-part ballot measure to decide whether the community, located in the northwest corner of the county adjacent to the City of Norco, will become the county's 27th city. 

Stalled Federal Transportation Bill Puts Local Funding on Hold

With state and local government revenues shrinking throughout California, planners are increasingly looking to the federal government – and especially transportation funds – to pay for local planning efforts, especially if they involve infill and transit-oriented development efforts. But the two major possible sources of funding – the transportation reauthorization bill and the climate bill – are both stalled with little hope of passage anytime soon.

The climate bill has been caught, at least for the moment, in the crossfire of the immigration debate. So let’s get back to that later and focus instead on the bill that ought to have no trouble passing: the transportation reauthorization bill.

GHG Emissions Target-Setting Process Grows Thick

The Regional Targets Advisory Committee returns to work next week for what promises to be a very technical meeting regarding greenhouse gas reduction forecasts.

The meeting and discussion are the next step in trying to answer this question: How is California going to grow in a way that reduces the amount that people drive?  

As you probably recall, the committee (known as the RTAC or “Are-Tack”) was charged with making recommendations to the Air Resources Board for regional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions from passenger vehicles, based on transportation systems and land use planning. The committee report issued last September was one of the first steps in implementing SB 375, the 2008 legislation that ties land use planning and transportation so as to reduce GHG emissions.

Court Rules Against Refinery in First-Ever Greenhouse Gas Decision

In the first-ever appellate court decision regarding the California Environmental Quality Act and climate change, the First District Court of Appeal has held that the future development of a plan for greenhouse gas mitigation constituted improperly deferred mitigation. For that reason and others, the court ruled the environmental impact report for an oil refinery project was invalid.

Redevelopment Agencies Ponder Next Move After $2 Billion Raid

California’s redevelopment agencies are pondering their next step after a court ruling that forced them to give $2.05 billion to the state in early May. The state’s redevelopment association plans to appeal the ruling by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly – but most of them had to write big checks back to their county treasurer on May 10 to comply with the ruling.

The Third District Court of Appeals ruled against the California Redevelopment Association's request for a temporary stay on making a potentially devastating transfer of would-be redevelopment intended to ease the state's $20.7 billion budget deficit. California's redevelopment agencies were forced to hand over a collective $1.7 billion on May 10, with another payment of just over $300 million slated for next year.

State Supremes to Hear CEQA Case on Plastic Bags

After recently clearing its docket of California Environmental Quality Act cases, the state Supreme Court has accepted a new CEQA case for review.