Here's CP&DR's roundup of recent events around the state regarding the redevelopment wind-down. Just click on the headline to read more -- sometimes from us, sometimes from other sources.
If skepticism about growth is an indication that the economy is on the rebound, then Tuesday's land use elections throughout California might be called good news.
About a dozen land use measures were on the ballot Tuesday and most cases the anti-growth forces won. Most of those that did win were focused on job creation. Several measures focused on downtown development in small cities, with mixed results.
Everybody in Northern California is proud of the World Champion Giants., but apparently the 49ers are a different story. The Department of Finance beancounters in Sacramento have nixed a negotiated agreement between the City of Santa Clara and other taxing agencies that would have allowed the city to keep $30 million in tax-increment funds to help finance the 49ers new $1.2 billion stadium.
Last week, I posted a blog from the American Planning Association, California Chapter, conference suggesting that the new guidelines to implement the streamlining of environmental review for infill projects under SB 226 might be making the whole process even more complicated. Relying on comments by Ron Bass and Terry Rivasplata of ICF International, I titled the blog, “Streamlining CEQA is Really Complicated,” and I concluded that because CEQA is a complicated law, simplifying it really is a complicated matter.
Though painful, the unwinding of redevelopment would seem to be a pretty straightforward process for most cities: Designate yourself as the successor agency, negotiate with your oversight committee to keep as much stuff going as possible, and try to keep the state Department of Finance from vetoing the whole situation.
Ever since the passage of SB 226 -- the law designed to streamline environment review for infill projects -- the state has been working on changes to the California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines to implement the law. There's a draft of the guidance out (you can find it here), and CEQA-sters Ron Bass and Terry Rivasplata of ICF International did a good job of laying out what the draft says at a session at the American Planning Association, California Chapter, conference.
Last week, in my Insight column available to CP&DR subscribers, I suggested that there were two possible reasons Gov. Brown vetoed SB 1156 and the other redevelopment bills. First, there's still bad blood between him and the cities. And second, he doesn't want to do anything that would stimulate the revival of a redevelopment lobby in Sacramento.
Barrington, Ill.—What can California learn from a sleepy exurb on the edge of nowhere? Not much, I don’t think. California has scarcely ever pretended to care much for small town America. But something that is at once very modern and very old-fashioned is afoot here on Main Street.
I mean Main Street literally. Barrington has a primary commercial street, and it’s called Main. And in the middle of that street, watching over it calmly and without imposition, stands the Catlow Theater, its neon casting a red glow over the prairie.
DUBLIN, Ireland -- Mike McKeever and I traveled 5,000 miles east from California this week to debate SB 375 in front of a Trans-Atlantic audience of planning and policy wonks at University College Dublin. Characteristic of how we each look at things, when we sit down to answer questions, my water glass was mostly empty and his was mostly full.
Last week I published a short op-ed in the Los Angeles Times suggesting that low-density development patterns are one of the reasons California cities are experiencing fiscal problems. But I have to admit I wasn’t prepared for the type of pushback I got from readers, most of whom seemed to view me as an apologist for public employee unions or as a radical wishing to overturn Proposition 13.
Even the most irate objectors to Gov. Jerry Brown's dismantling of redevelopment held out hope that in agreeing to killing redevelopment, the legislature would invent a new, better system for stoking local economic growth. Yesterday, the governor dashed those hopes.
On Saturday, California tax law finally catches up with the 21st century: some online retailers -- most notably, juggernaut Amazon.com -- will start charging sales tax for items sold in California if they have warehouse space in the state. Though we always knew there was something fishy about the tax exemption, as a consumer this development does not thrill me. As a citizen of the state, I suppose it's fine. The more money we can raise, the better.
As an urbanist, however, I say bring on the tax.
At least someone thinks California is going to emerge from its mess.
Update: Sen. Michael Rubio and Senate Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg have announced that Senate Bill 317, which would have made major changes to the enforcement of the California Environmental Quality Act, has been killed and will not be heard by the Senate.
Robert Venturi has, as of last week, retired from architecture. If that seems like unremarkable news, because you didn’t know Robert Venturi was still practicing, you’re probably not alone.