The recently released U.S. Cities Sustainable Development Global Index (pdf) aims to help urban leaders address the many sustainable development challenges affecting their cities. California cites dominated the top of the list. The San Jose-Santa Clara-Sunnyvale region came in No. 1, the San Francisco-Oaland-Hawyard region came in No. 4, San Diego-Carlsbad took No. 5, and Oxnard-Thousand Oaks took No. 8 nationally. The Index covers the 100 most populous cities (measured as Metropolitan Statistical Areas). It synthesizes data available today across 49 indicators spanning 16 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were agreed upon by all countries in September 2015. The data provides a more holistic and comprehensive assessment of sustainable development challenges faced by U.S. cities than available through other metrics. Results show that all U.S. cities, even those at the top of the index, have far to go to achieve the SDGs. Provo-Orem, Utah, and Seattle-Tacoma Washington round out the top five.
Los Angeles Launches Database of City Properties
The City of Los Angeles launched a new online portal that designed to help the city maximize the value of its property, and more efficiently provide options for affordable housing, homeless service facilities, and other priorities. The comprehensive, searchable property database will enable staff to manage city property more effectively, and allow the public to track the development of community assets like police and fire stations, libraries and public parks. The portal is available at lacity.org/property. The portal will be used to maximize the value of underutilized or vacant properties. With departments such as the Department of Transportation, the Economic and Workforce Development Department, and Los Angeles Public Library now utilizing the system, the unused spaces could potentially turn into a vast array of public amenities. “City-owned property is one of our most valuable assets, and we must maximize its value to advance critical priorities like building affordable housing and expanding homeless services,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement. “This innovative new portal will streamline our property management, and help us put more of our land to work serving our communities’ needs.”
AHSC Technical Assistance Available
The Strategic Growth Council has released a survey for localities and organizations interested in receiving technical assistance under the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program. The goal of AHSC TA Program is to ensure disadvantaged and low-income communities have access to the resources and tools to successfully compete in the AHSC program. Organizations interested in receiving technical assistance for a potential AHSC application, must complete the informational formby Friday August 25th. The information collected will help determine overall TA need. SGC Staff will assess the collected information and allocate TA resources according to the following criteria: Project Viability & AHSC Threshold Criteria; TA Needs; Geographic Diversity; Value Add; Disadvantaged, Low-Income, and/or Tribal Community; Capacity Needs. Based on the above criteria, the SGC will determine if the potential AHSC applicant will receive services in preparation for the upcoming funding round (October 2017) or, as resources allow, longer-term capacity-building services to prepare for a future AHSC funding round.
Superior Court to Rule on S.F. Height Limit Measure
A dispute over San Francisco ballot measure limiting the height of buildings along the city’s waterfront is going to trial. Measure B, passed in 2014 with 59 percent of the vote, limits the height of new waterfront buildings to whatever the existing limits are unless voters approve an exception. The state Lands Commission sued to overturn the measure on the grounds that only the state can set regulations for waterfront development. But this month a San Francisco Superior Court judge has ruled preliminarily that the city may claim precedence in certain instances and is allowing the case to go to trial. The ruling is concerned a victory for supporters of the measure. Trial is set for Sept. 11.
U.S. Rep. Cook Requests Shrinking of San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
As the Trump administration considers shrinking or eliminating protected federal lands, Rep. Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) has requested that the administration consider eliminating territory from the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Cook wants to eliminate 4,873 acres, out of a total of 346,000, adjacent to the Inland Empire Communities of Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, and San Antonio Heights. Cook contends that the monument is opposed by local residents and infringes on local economic activity, such as the possible expansion of Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts. Many local officials, including the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, support the monument as-is. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors opposed expansion of the monument in 2014.
Agricultural Groups Sue over Amphibian Habitat Designation
Three agricultural organizations are challenging the designation of 1.8 million acres of critical habitat for two yellow-legged frog species and the Yosemite toad. the California Cattlemen’s Association, California Farm Bureau, and California Wool Grower’s Association have filed suit in federal court against the state Fish and Wildlife Service on the grounds that the agency failed to analyze the impacts of the habitat designation on small businesses. The suit claims that the agency improperly failed to prepare a Regulatory Flexibility Analysis. More than half of the 1.8 million acres is used, to some extent, as grazing land; ranchers contend that the designation improperly infringes on their ability to graze. The forest service contends that it did take ranching into account and that the designation does not unduly impact ranching.
Inglewood Shrinks Potential Area for Clippers Arena
Stakeholders in Inglewood are raising concerns over the possibility that the city could authorize the use of eminent domain to develop a proposed arena complex for the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team. A four-block area of the city has been designated “potential participating parcels,” including two heavily residential blocks that are home to over 2,000 residents. Those residents, as well as some businesses, have not agree to the Clippers’ plan. The city recently shrank the potential development area to exclude a church and some single-family homes. Parcels currently occupied by a variety of businesses remain available for purchase or eviction via eminent domain to accommodate the arena.
Hotel Fined for Improperly Meddling in Santa Monica Land Use
The California Fair Practices Commission has fined Santa Monica’s Huntley Hotel $310,000 for improperly canceling donations to city council candidates and funding opposition to the redevelopment of a nearby rival hotel in downtown Santa Monica. The commission found 62 counts of improper behavior on the part of the hotel over a total of $97,000 in campaign contributions. The fine is significant because the Huntley not only opposed the redevelopment of neighboring Miramar Hotel but also gave support to the city’s slow-growh movement though its cover organization, Santa Monicans for Responsible Growth. Activism associated with the group has reportedly led to the down-zoning of Santa Monica’s Land Use and Circulation Element. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)