Initiatives and referendums


CP&DR News Briefs, May 18, 2015: L.A. Mobility Plan; Delta Smelt Face Extinction; Solar Power Plan Postponed

The Los Angeles Planning Commission advised the City Council to adopt the city's proposed Mobility Plan 2035 (pdf), update the land use element of 35 community plans, and adopt an ordinance to implement new street standards and complete street principles.

Fourth District rules special 'electorate' not OK for San Diego's special hotel tax

California's Fourth Appellate District on Friday struck down a special hotel tax that San Diego hotel operators had willingly imposed on themselves, as members of an unusually defined special district, to raise money for the city's convention center expansion. The court ruled that the tax required a two-thirds citywide popular vote for approval.

Under Proposition 13 as broadened in 1996 by Proposition 218, special taxes must be approved by a two-thirds vote of "the qualified electors" of the affected district, also expressed as "the electorate" of the district.

November 2012 Land Use Ballot Measures

It’s safe to say that the City of Calistoga’s Silver Rose Referendum will not be the most important question on the ballot in the this November. Nor will Escondido’s general plan measure, nor even a preliminary vote on draining Hetch Hetchy reservoir.

Strategic Plan, Grant Programs Drive SGC's Agenda

With funding scarce and plans large and small in abundance, the latest round of Sustainable Communities Grants and Urban Greening Grants awarded by the Strategic Growth Council come as welcome relief to cities, counties, and other agencies. Last month, the SGC announced that it would award $24.6 million in Sustainable Communities Planning Grants and $20.7 million in Urban Greening Grants. Both programs are funded by the clean water bond Prop. 84.

June Ballots Include Few Questions on Local Land Use (Updated)

While the presidential Primary Election will be a non-event in California,this upcoming Election Day, June 5, will be a relatively quiet one for land use measures in California as well. Only a handful of measures appear on city and county ballots. Perhaps not surprisingly, Orange County features two of the most contentious measures: one to promote affordable housing in Yorba Linda and to create a new commercial center in Cypress.

Insight: 100 Years After Introduction of Voter Initiatives, ‘Ballot-Box Zoning’ Prevails

This month – October 10, to be exact – marks the 100th anniversary of initiative and referendum in California. It’s hard to imagine that Gov. Hiram Johnson, the godfather of the constitutional amendment, could have imagined all the different ways that the initiative process would be used – especially by the moneyed interests that were his target in 1911. But it’s equally hard to imagine that Johnson could have foreseen the way the initiative and referendum process would transform planning and development in California.

Judge Rejects Initiative to Banish Ventura Parking Meters

A ballot initiative to remove parking meters from downtown Ventura has been knocked off the November ballot by a Ventura County Superior Court judge. 

Redevelopment Supporters Gird for Legal Battle

If Gov. Jerry Brown gets his way in the Legislature in the coming days, he and the state will face a conundrum to make a Zen master's head spin: Is it illegal to transfer funds from agencies that no longer exist?

The governor has thus far been unyielding in his effort to eliminate the state's redevelopment agencies. In doing so he hopes to recoup up to $1.7 billion to help offset the state's estimated $26 billion deficit. Negotiations are ongoing at the Capitol, with a handful of Republican legislators--the so-called "GOP 5"—still in discussions with the Democratic governor. A vote is expected any day now. 

March 8 Elections Include Few Local Land Use Measures

Voters will face only a handful of local ballots March 8, and the slate is mercifully light--and concentrated in Southern California. After a November election (see CP&DR Vol. 25, No. 21 Nov. 2010) packed with some of the most contentious local and statewide questions in recent memory, next month's smattering of project approvals and parking spats likely comes as welcome relief. The biggest local question surrounds the would-be city of Jurupa Valley, which will vote to become yet the newest city in the Inland Empire, a region that is maturing in fits and starts.

Cash-Strapped Planning Agencies Get Prop. 84 Windfall

When Proposition 84 passed in 2006, it reflected a booming economy. Providing $5.4 billion for clean water, parks, and open space the measure was seen as an important way to protect the state’s natural resources at a time before many were worried about $28 billion deficits or maxing out the state’s bonding capacity. 

Prop. 84’s primary focus is on waterways and water management. However, it also includes a relatively tiny set-aside for innovative planning that is proving to be a godsend to planning departments that are suffering unprecedented budget cuts (see CP&DR Insight Vol. 25, No. 5, March 2010).