Josh Stephens


Book Review: ‘Making the San Fernando Valley’

Early in her account of the development of San Fernando Valley, Laura R. Barraclough describes an 1880s-era photo that captures the wholesome spirit of what would become Los Angeles’ great bedroom community: “Captioned ‘Lankershim’s best product,’ [it] showed several hundred white children standing in a field, grinning at the camera.” 

Jeff Spicoli and Moon Unit Zappa, they are not. 

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Redevelopment Case, Issues Stay of Payments

California's redevelopment agencies have won a minor, but far from permanent victory, in their effort to shield a total of $1.7 billion in tax increment funds from the state. 

Budget Cuts Could Imperil Review of Housing Elements

The process of planning for affordable housing in California just got, inadvertently, more affordable. 

Among the many cuts that Gov. Jerry Brown enacted in his effort to balance the budget  is a $1 million hit to the Department of Housing and Community Development Building Equity and Growth in Neighborhoods Fund. That fund supports the department’s housing element review activities; with roughly 20 staff members, the housing element review staff will be effectively cut in half. 

Borders’ Demise Could Open New Chapter In Urban Retail

To its minimal credit, Borders Books & Music always had a a few shelves where the works of Jacobs, Mumford, Kunstler, Whyte, Florida, and others resided. 

Ken Alex Leads State Planning Efforts at OPR

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research occupies an unusual place in California planning. Even though planning is an intensely local function, part of OPR’s mission is to convey Sacramento’s planning agenda to the local level. At times when that agenda has been ill-defined, OPR has nearly withered. But now that Gov. Jerry Brown has articulated support for Senate Bill 375 and for a host of smart growth principals, OPR may regain prominence. 

Redevelopment Fun Facts

OK, nothing surrounding redevelopment is much "fun" these days. But let's try to lighten the mood. 

The Real Problem with Carmageddon

If you haven't heard, we're expecting a little traffic here in west Los Angeles this weekend. Actually, we're expecting it all over the city. No, wait. All over the county. 

Forget it. The entire state is going to be paralyzed. Now everybody freak out!

Shoe Warehouse Stumbles Towards Sustainability

Here’s one for the irony hall of fame: the new distribution center of one of the world’s largest shoe companies is located in one of the most un-walkable places in California. 

I mean to rib Skechers USA Inc. and its warehouse in Moreno Valley only lightly. No one expects to walk to an industrial or logistics facility the way they would to an office building or corner grocery store. 

Redevelopment Agencies Prepare to Fight for Their Lives

After an agonizing six-month prelude, the curtain has finally risen on the drama that is redevelopment in California. Agencies are now forced contemplate the costs of staving off their own demise.

Update: Brown Signs Budget Bills, Forces Redevelopment Agencies' Hand

After six months of debating and negotiating, Governor Jerry Brown today signed AB 1x 26/27, the pair of bills that would compel redevelopment agencies to make voluntary contributions to the state or else face elimination. Opponents of the budget trailer bill contend that the requested contributions would be so burdensome--totaling $1.7 billion this fiscal year--as to effectively end redevelopment in the state by putting all but the most financially solvent agencies out of business.