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San Diego Considers Dueling Plans to Finance Stadium, Convention Center

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.

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Path to Nice Roads Bypasses California

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Likewise, you can lead California’s road builders to ISTEA/TEA-21Transportation Enhancements, but you apparently can’t make them take advantage of the matching funds. That’s a shame because this resistance ensures that the state has poorly landscaped roads, fewer bridge and railroad depot renovations, and minimal interpretive centers for historic and scenic area.

The Transportation Enhancement (TE) program is a cornerstone o...

Local Adult Business Zoning Gets 3 Hearings in Ninth Circuit

In three adult business cases decided in late June, the Ninth District Court of Appeals upheld one city’s zoning ordinance, struck down another city’s code and sent a third city’s regulatory system back to district court for further proceedings.

The court upheld the City of Taft’s ordinance that restricts adult businesses to a select few parcels in town, but it struck down a similar ordinance in Simi Valley as unconstitutional because that city’s process essentially permitted third parties to block ad...

Councilman Defends Right to decide Own Appeal: Court Rules Applicant can Still receive a Fair Hearing

A city councilmember can appeal a planning commission decision and then cast a vote on the appeal, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled. The court decided that the owner of a pool hall in Torrance who sought a permit to sell alcohol could get a fair hearing in such circumstances.

The unanimous three-judge panel made clear that the case was dissimilar to a 1994 case in which the Second District ruled that it was a conflict of interest for the Thousand Oaks City Council to appeal a ...

Councilman Defends Right to decide Own Appeal: Court Rules Applicant can Still receive a Fair Hearing

A city councilmember can appeal a planning commission decision and then cast a vote on the appeal, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled. The court decided that the owner of a pool hall in Torrance who sought a permit to sell alcohol could get a fair hearing in such circumstances.

The unanimous three-judge panel made clear that the case was dissimilar to a 1994 case in which the Second District ruled that it was a conflict of interest for the Thousand Oaks City Council to appeal a ...

Subdivison Map Act: Ruling Against ‘Paper Subdivisions’ Will Not Stand as Precedent

A recent appellate court opinion that cast doubt on the legal status of thousands of lots in 19th century subdivisions has been decertified.

The California Supreme Court ordered the depublication of the Second District Court of Appeals’ decision in Circle K Ranch Corp. v. Board of Supervisors of the County of Santa Barbara, B124996 (see CP&DR Legal Digest, May 2000). However, the state’s high court did not accept the case for review.

The Second District ruled that separate parcels do not exist today...

Variances: Government Regulations Can Be Grounds for Variance, Court Rules

Santa Cruz County’s granting of six variances for a new house on the beach has been upheld by the Sixth District Court of Appeal. The unanimous three-judge panel ruled that the county could consider federal and county regulations as "special circumstances" in approving variance requests.

The controversy was centered on some of Santa Cruz County’s most desirable real estate, namely, Beach Drive, next to Rio Del Mar Beach, in Aptos. In 1996, Jim and Judi Craik purchased a house at 415 Beach D...

Guideline Authors Allege Misreading; State supreme Court to Decide

The two principal authors of the 1998 revisions to the California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines say a recent appellate court decision misinterpreted the Guidelines. The case, Friends of Sierra Madre v. City of Sierra Madre, (1999) 76 Cal.App.4th 1061, has since been accepted for review by the state Supreme Court.

Last December, the Second District Court of Appeal overturned an election in which voters approved a city-sponsored ballot measure to remove 29 properties from the city’s Register of H...

David Solaro

David Solaro is a first-term El Dorado County Supervisor representing the Lake Tahoe area. Solaro is a former police and fire chief for the City of South Lake Tahoe, and he holds a master’s degree in organizational management from Cal Poly Pomona.

In May, the Board of Supervisors unanimously endorsed Solaro’s plan to begin a "stakeholder assessment" process, which includes creating an eight- to twelve-member steering committee and hiring a neutral facilitator. Solaro’s goal is to work throug...

Mammoth Lakes: Resort Town Prepares for the Big Time

Long seen as something of a second-tier resort area, Mammoth Mountain appears headed for the big time. Intrawest, a Canadian company with extensive resort development and operation experience, intends to build 2,300, mostly upper-end housing units and create a new town center in the City of Mammoth Lakes.

The idea is to make Mammoth Lakes and the nearby Mammoth Mountain Ski Area competitive with premier all-season resorts such as those in Vail and Aspen, Colorado, Park City, Utah, and Whist...

Slow-Growth Ballot Measure Influences UCD Planning

The University of California is preparing to expand its Davis campus to accommodate more students during the next 10 years. Although Davis’s expansion is not expected to be as large as at other campuses in the UC system, UCD’s plans could conflict with a slow-growth initiative that city voters approved in March.

At the very least, Measure J appears to have strained relations between university representatives and city officials. Although the planning process is just getting started, UC officials have ...

Proposition 218: Appelate Court Upholds Rental Tax; No Election Necessary

The Fourth District Court of Appeal has turned away a Proposition 218-based challenge to the City of San Diego’s tax on rental residences. The court held that the tax is an excise tax that is not subject to the provisions of Proposition 218, the "Right to Vote on Taxes Act" of 1996.

San Diego began assessing a "rental unit business tax" on apartments and hotels in 1942. The tax evolved over the years, and in 1992 was extended to cover all residential properties available for rent, including ...

Oakland Shows How to Gain Attention

Doctor, I need to tell you why I am lying on the couch today. In my line of work, as you know, I report on public-private deals for California’s most distinguished land-use newsletter. And, for the most part, I perform my job without major psychic distress or disturbance (except for occasional bouts of rage when I learn that redevelopment agencies have declared open fields of wildflowers to be "blighted" in order to build power centers.)

But something has happened recently. I ...

Increased Scrutiny Slows Dairies: Legal and Political Challenges Strike at Central Valley Expansion Plans

Although Wisconsin may be home to the "cheeseheads," California is actually the nation’s largest dairy state. In fact, with annual production at $3.6 billion and rising, the dairy industry is the largest agricultural sector in California.

But these are not the best of times for the industry. The Chino dairy preserve in San Bernardino County, the center of Southern California’s dairy industry for decades, is pegged for urban development (see CP&DR Local Watch, March 2000). And building new fa...

Mamoth Lakes Redevelopment Plan, EIR Invalidated

An appellate court has thrown out the Town of Mammoth Lakes’ redevelopment plan and the plan’s EIR. The Third District Court of Appeal held that there was no substantial evidence that the 1,139-acre redevelopment project area was blighted or even predominately urbanized. The court also ruled there was no evidence that current conditions prevented economic development. As for the EIR, the court ruled that the town’s program EIR was inadequate and the town should have thoroughly analyzed all 72 projects i...

Sludge War Pits Rural Kern County Against South State Cities

Each day, a parade of trucks heads north out of the Southern California metropolis, grinding over the Tehachapis and descending into Kern County, one of the state’s premier agricultural regions. The convoy is nearly a mirror image of the truck traffic heading the other way laden with commodities grown in the fertile Central Valley.

There is an important difference, however. Whereas the southbound trucks, bearing oranges, tomatoes, almonds, carrots, cotton and other valued products, are we...

Governor Bypasses Traditional System for Planning Transit and Highways

No government planning process is more given to cumbersome bureaucratic procedures than transportation planning. The whole process by which we determine what transportation projects get built is often portrayed — even by policy wonks — as little more than a mind-numbing collection of acronyms: ISTEA, TEA-21, CTC, MPO, RTP, RTPA, STIP, RTIP, and on and on.

The very bureaucratic denseness of this system, however, reveals the solid public policy logic on which it is based. When we talk about transportati...