Initiatives and referendums
What do touchdowns, trade shows, room service, rivers, and dorm rooms have in common? In San Diego, quite a bit.
Spooked by the possible relocation of the San Diego Chargers football team, the city is doubling down on opportunities not only to retain the Chargers but also to pursue a host of other initiatives related to tourism and economic development. The matters may be resolved through one of two competing measures that are expected to appear on upcoming ballots.
"The Citizens Plan" could appear on the citywide ballot as early as November. Proposed by Cory Briggs, an environmental attorney famous instead for halting city projects, it would raise hotel taxes and allow the city to expand its convention center, build a new Chargers stadium, secure long-term funding to promote the city to tourists, create a new San Diego River park and hand San Diego State University an expansion opportunity. It would make way for a joint-use convention center-stadium built on 10 downtown acres, next to the Padres ballpark and across the street from the city’s existing convention center.
Sexy-sporty clothing brand American Apparel has long been one of the Los Angeles’ most beloved, and most controversial, corporate citizens. It is known for paying decent wages and treating its workers well.
When it easily could have outsourced jobs to Asia, it has also resolutely kept its main factory in Los Angeles, occupying a muscular, seven-story industrial building on the southeast edge of downtown since 2000. American Apparel has proudly championed social-justice causes, including immigration reform and gay rights, and assured consumers that they are buying “sweatshop-free” garments made by well treated workers.
They’re just the sort of workers who might – might – benefit from the forthcoming increase in California’s minimum wage. If only they – and every other low-wage worker in Los Angeles – had decent roofs over their heads.
On the morning of Wednesday, November 9, while the nation takes stock of its future, its second-largest city will be doing the same. By then, the proposed Hollywood Palladium Residences may be one of two things: a proud testament to a progressive city's embrace of smart growth, or a 28-story symbol of the hubris of Los Angeles’ planning and development community.
Was Tuesday's election the turning point in the San Francisco density battles?
There's been a lot of talk lately about how the city's longtime policy of controlling new development may be outdated now that it's the most expensive city in the country. And in the election, affordable housing, urban density, and short-term housing rentals all prevailed . In fact, more people voted on land use measures yesterday in the City and County of San Francisco than in the rest of the state's jurisdictions combined -- four time as many, in fact. Roughly 130,000 San Francisco voters weighed in on a ballot packed with six land use measures.
Elsewhere in the state, measures to curtail development and/or preserve open space prevailed in Malibu, El Dorado County, and San Anselmo, so some things never change.
CP&DR News Briefs, May 18, 2015: L.A. Mobility Plan; Delta Smelt Face Extinction; Solar Power Plan PostponedBy Matthew Hose on 18 May 2015 - 10:45am
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.