I noticed the da Vinci apartment complex for the first time only a few months ago. How could I not notice it? It looked like a plywood ocean liner beached against the northbound side of the 110 freeway. Rising 4-5 stories at the time, it hovered over the freeway, uncomfortably close to the roadway. I remember hoping that it would have serious soundproofing. And air filtering.
Last week Harvard history professor Naomi Oreskes defended the public figure that many planners love to hate: the NIMBY. In a column in the Washington Post entitled, “Stop hating on NIMBYs. They’re saving communities,” she argues that "NIMBY" does not deserve the pejorative connotation that many in the planning community naturally ascribe to it.
News Item: the Los Angeles City Council has rescinded a long-standing ordinance requiring all high-rise buildings in the downtown area to have rooftop helipads. When the ordinance was in effect, all downtown buildings were flat-headed in design to accommodate the helipads.
As if we needed another story about Prop 13's unintended impacts on education, here's a new twist.
The SB 743 roadshow went to Anaheim over the weekend, where the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research – along with Ron Milam from Fehr & Peers – faced an overflow crowd and probed deeply into OPR’s proposal to dump traffic congestion as a significant impact under the California Environmental Quality Act. And the discussion showed just how much the OPR proposal is turning the CEQA’s traditional assumptions about traffic on their head.
The end of redevelopment has never turned into a cash cow for the state, as Gov. Jerry Brown hoped back in 2011. And while the 2012 cleanup law – AB 1484 – has clarified the rules, cities are still losing most lawsuits against the state that seek to retain former redevelopment funds.
This week CP&DR is livetweeting the APA California conference in Anaheim. You can read first impressions from the panels at http:// www.twitter.com/Cal_plan. (No need to have a Twitter account: just close any pop-up windows at the site and keep reading.) We'll have more detailed coverage here later on based on news picked up at the conference.
The proposed CEQA Guidelines prohibiting lead agencies from categorizing traffic congestion as a significant impact will likely trump any significance finding tied to local general plans that contain a level of service standard, state officials said at a forum on the draft guidelines Friday in San Diego.
It’s hemi-semi-official: In the opinion of one of the state’s leading geologists, no earthquake fault lies beneath the immense Millennium office development in Hollywood. That is the expert opinion of Stephen Testa, who is executive director of the State Mining and Geology Board. Unlike several other geologists who have addressed the board in this case, Testa is not a consultant for the Millenium project.
Dear CP&DR Readers,
By now, you may have heard that I have decided to move on from my current job as Planning Director of the City of San Diego to become the Director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University in Houston. (See http://kinder.rice.edu/content.aspx?id=2147485438&blogid=306.) I’m writing this short missive to reassure you that I remain committed to California Planning & Development Report – and, in fact, I’ll have more motivation and bandwidth to devote to CP&DR than I have had in recent years.
It’s no secret that Walmart stores have caused the entire economies of small towns to decamp for some highway strip and, ultimately, wind up in Bentonville. But at least you know a Walmart when you see it – from miles away, no less.
A similarly insidious trend toward generic placelessness has been taking place in smaller-scale communities, even in many of the places that progressive planners hail as attractive, functioning communities.
Since our last discussion of architect Peter Zumthor’s proposed new design of the Los Angeles County Art Museum, aka the Black Hole on Wilshire Boulevard (see http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3442), several important events have taken place:
The Page Museum, which employs paleontologists to excavate bones of ancient mammals from tar pits that lie east of the museum, pointed out that the new museum would overlie several active research sites. Emergency IM to Switzerland: Mr. Z, your tar pit museum has become mired in the honest-to-God tar pits! Back to the drawing board!
A coalition of San Francisco tenants' groups has won the needed four votes from county Supervisors to place an “anti-speculation tax” initiative on the city and county municipal ballot in November. The initiative, which would impose a 24-percent tax on investors who sell rental housing within five years of purchase, is the latest attempt of long-time city residents to beat back the waves of rising rents and housing values in what has become the nation’s most expensive housing market.
If you think browsing court records in public policy lawsuits is a sensible use of time -- and since you're reading this publication, you may -- here's a warning that, if you don't work in California or federal government, the best time to read court documents in Sacramento Superior Court is before July 1. On that date, unless local court officials relent, online case records will become expensively paywalled.
In a case that could reset the parameters of reality, the developer of a mixed-use development under construction in Hollywood has asked the state geological service to change the earthquake map of Los Angeles.