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CP&DR News Briefs, July 6, 18, 2015: $224 Million in Transit Grants; State Carbon Emissions Drop; Alameda Base Redevelopment

$224 Million in State Transportation Grants Awarded

County Wins ERAF Suit

Sonoma County has won the first round in its lawsuit over the state’s 1993 shift of property taxes from counties and cities to school districts.

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Laurence Sawyer ruled that the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) shift was unconstitutional because "the shift of local property taxes compels the counties to accept financial responsibility in whole or in part for a program that was required to be funded by the State." Fifty-three counties joined the lawsuit, whi...

LAFCO Skirts Proposition 218

The Proposition 218 requirement for public elections regarding property-based taxes does not apply to areas annexed into a jurisdiction that already has such taxes, according to an Attorney General’s opinion.

The opinion issued in October by Deputy Attorney General Gregory Gonot says that a Local Agency Formation Commission may require that taxes levied by the jurisdiction be imposed on the newly annexed parcels, even though those landowners did not vote on the taxes. The proposition was not intended ...

Fremont Project Meets Demand For High-Tech Business Space

Although it may not receive as much attention as high-tech powerhouses such as San Jose, Santa Clara and Mountain View, Fremont has attracted numerous small and medium-sized technology companies in recent years. Now, Fremont — in southern Alameda County about 12 miles north of downtown San Jose — is poised to become an even bigger player.

Catellus Development Corporation has received nearly all the government approvals necessary for 8.25 million square feet of commercial developm...

Mello-Roos Foreclosure Upheld

Delays in constructing roads and utilities funded by Mello-Roos bonds do not absolve property owners of paying Mello-Roos assessments, the Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled in a recently published opinion.

In a case from Riverside County, the unanimous three-judge panel found that property owners have an obligation to bondholders that is independent of any dispute over how bond proceeds are used.

The County created Community Facilities District 88-8 under the Mello-Roos Community Faci

Court Upholds 9-Year-Old Neg Dec As Adequate Study

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has rejected a takings claim and request for a jury trial filed by a property owner in Washington who disputed a zoning decision made under that state’s Growth Management Act of 1990.

It was the Ninth Circuit’s first takings decision since the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold a takings decision and jury award of damages in May. In City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at Monterey Ltd., 119 S. Ct. 1624, the high court broke new ground by allowing an aggrieved...

State Treasurer Wants to Influence Growth Patterms: Policies for Housing Tax Credits, Infrastructure Financing Are Tools

Four months after making a sweeping proposal to re-orient the state’s infrastructure investments around "smart growth" principles, State Treasurer Phil Angelides — a former "New Urbanist" developer -— is moving forward with at least three different proposals to change the selection criteria in state bond and tax credit financing programs.

"It’s a new way of thinking for the state and the public finance community," Angelides said. "But it’s not irresponsible and it is creditworthy."

Angelides has al...

A Foreign Concept for Planners to Consider

It’s no surprise that Ephrain Corona didn’t have time to talk when I called. The immigrant owner of a five-store Mexican roasted chicken chain based in Oxnard was too busy growing his business. What Corona undoubtedly realizes is that the time is ripe to cash in on California’s fastest growing consumer segment: foreign immigrants. Joining this growing group of entrepreneurs are a few developers and a handful of planning departments – mainly redevelopment agencies – all of whom may have found the...

Public Transit Advances in Congested Bay Area

Silicon Valley's job boom has underscored gaps in the transit systems in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has renewed calls to extend BART, the costly regional transit system that was once supposed to ring San Francisco Bay.

But while construction continues on a $1.5 billion extension of BART from northern San Mateo County to San Francisco International Airport, other plans to extend BART have received mixed receptions. A ballot initiative to extend BART south of the airport through S...

Sonoma Voters Reject Resort

An initiative to prevent hotel and resort development on 60 acres of city-owned land in Sonoma passed with 77 percent of the vote during a Sept. 21 special election that attracted 59% of registered voters. A Mexican investor had proposed an upscale, 100-room resort for the hillside above Sonoma Plaza. Project opponents said they wanted to preserve open space and a scenic view.

Takings Case Doesn’t Get Jury Trial: Del Monte Dunes Precedent Not Applicable in All Cases

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has rejected a takings claim and request for a jury trial filed by a property owner in Washington who disputed a zoning decision made under that state’s Growth Management Act of 1990.

It was the Ninth Circuit’s first takings decision since the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold a takings decision and jury award of damages in May. In City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at Monterey Ltd., 119 S. Ct. 1624, the high court broke new ground by allowing an aggrieved...

CERCLA: Lawsuit Over Ft. Ord Cleanup Gets Light to Proceed

The federal Superfund law allows citizens to file lawsuits challenging remedial cleanup of hazardous material at a former military base, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. The September ruling permits a federal lawsuit to move forward against the Army over burial of hazardous materials at the former Fort Ord Army base in Monterey.

Environmentalists charge that the Army’s plan to bury contaminated soil in an on-site landfill is subject to review under the California Environmental Quality...

Lawmakers Pass Few Significant Land-Ue Bills : Davis Vetoes Attempt to Halt Spread of Big-Box Retailers

Although Democrats took control of state government this year for the first time since the early 1980s, the legislative session did not produce a batch of liberal bills. In fact, with regards to land use, environmental regulation and local government finance, the session may have been most remarkable for what lawmakers did not do.

The Legislature approved no major changes to the California Environmental Quality Act. Transportation and affordable housing bonds died. Proposals to reduce the v...

Roy Rodgers Meets Marks-Roos in Murrieta

I need to start this column with some personal disclosures: I have never shot fish in a barrel. I deny ever having stolen candy from a baby. (Actually, it depends on how you define "stolen.") And I have never rolled off a log, at least not as an adult.

So, I don’t really know how easy all these things are. But then again, none of them could be easier than finding the flaws in the City of Murrieta's plan to provide about $115 million in bond financing for the RogersDale theme park to be built in the R...

Wal-Mart Takes Its Case to Eureka Voters--And Loses

Voters in Eureka have handed a setback to the Bentonville, Arkansas-based denizens of gray big boxes. In a late August election, Eureka voters rejected rezoning to allow a Wal-Mart near the waterfront. The election polarized the city, but officials pledged that economic development efforts would continue with or without Wal-Mart.

The loss in the Humboldt County seat was a rare defeat for Wal-Mart — but probably not surprising considering that it occurred in an independent-minded North Coast...

Wal-Mart Takes Its Case to Eureka Voters--And Loses

Voters in Eureka have handed a setback to the Bentonville, Arkansas-based denizens of gray big boxes. In a late August election, Eureka voters rejected rezoning to allow a Wal-Mart near the waterfront. The election polarized the city, but officials pledged that economic development efforts would continue with or without Wal-Mart.

The loss in the Humboldt County seat was a rare defeat for Wal-Mart — but probably not surprising considering that it occurred in an independent-minded North Coast...

After 3 Decades, Environmentalists Continue to Win CEQA Cases

Citizens and organizations with gripes about proposed developments are continuing to win more big lawsuits based on the California Environmental Quality Act than they are losing. According to a CP&DR analysis, petitioners — who these days range from environmentalists to public agencies in dispute with other public agencies — have won 14 of 25 significant, published CEQA cases since 1996. And that record appears to be just fine with the state Supreme Court, which shows no interest in CEQA these ...