Cities Struggle To Regulate Adult Business

They raise the ire of homeowners and merchants, councilmembers and supervisors, police chiefs and chamber of commerce leaders. They are seen as blights on a town, attractions for the wrong element. They should be run out of town, is the common sentiment.

Stable Funding Sources Elude Several State Land Conservancies

Money problems for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy earlier this year have highlighted a need among most of the state's six land conservancies to find a long-term funding source to carry out their mission of acquiring, restoring and preserving open space.

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, which acquires land throughout Los Angeles County and in southeastern Ventura County, announced it had run out of money to even pay administrative costs as of June 30. A state Assembly budget subcommitte...

Construction Pace Quickens

It is said that a rising tide lifts all ships. It would stand to reason, then, that California's resurgent economy is uniformly raising construction activity. But tides are, after all, fluid. Swells and surges may drop a boat here or there, depending on the harbor.

And so it is with California’s building. Some of the trends that we began to notice last year are holding strong, while others have reversed — suggesting that the current boom manifests in ways that are particular to Califor...

There’s Nobility in Simplicity

We have grown suspicious of simplicity. We late 20th Century folk have come to equate complexity with competence. We tend to give the benefit of the doubt to things that have been over-intellectualized, over-wrought and over-papered.

We want massive documents with hundreds of appendices that only consultants can read and interpret for us. The trend has given rise to a kind of info-snobbery: If a non-expert offers us an opinion, we tend to give it less weight than if a specialist weighs in on th...

Rapidly Growing Contra Costa Considers Tighter Urban Limit Line; New Regional Planning Efforts Stretch From Bay Area to Valley

In the latest chapter in a long-running story, Contra Costa County and many of its cities appear to be ready to tighten up the county’s urban limit line. The county is examining the creation of tighter boundaries in the controversial Tassajara Valley area and in fast-growing eastern Contra Costa County. Meanwhile, the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission recently adopted a written policy committing itself to honoring the county’s urban limit line wherever possible.

Urban limit line tightening co...

San Diego Waterfront Continues Transformation

The San Diego waterfront, already the scene of a growing San Diego Convention Center, is on the verge of adding 750 hotel rooms, a massive retail village and an expanded public park.

The project is the first phase of the Port of San Diego’s South Embarcadero Redevelopment Project. Two to three year’s worth of construction is likely to begin this spring, according to Ralph Hicks, the port’s director of land use and planning.

The project involves three separate undertakings: adding a 750-room tower to ...

Design Review: City May Block Home Addition For Solely Aesthetic Reasons

The Del Mar City Council had enough evidence to deny a permit for a two-story home addition based on aesthetic grounds only, the Sixth District Court of Appeal has ruled. In so doing, the court reversed San Diego County Superior Court Judge Lisa Guy-Schall's decision to grant the homeowner a writ of mandate requiring the city to issue the permit.

In overturning the trial judge, the appellate court found that Del Mar had not violated the landowner’s civil rights under federal law. Significantl...

Elsewhere Near River City . . .

Elsewhere Near River City …

West Sacramento hopes to become home to a minor league baseball team in little more than a year. The 12-year-old city is forming a Joint Powers Authority with Yolo and Sacramento counties to issue $40 million worth of taxable bonds to build a 10,000-seat baseball stadium near the Sacramento River. The new owner of the Oakland A’s Triple-A franchise, now located in Vancouver, B.C., wants to play ball in West Sacramento in April 2000.

Under the plan all three entities appr...

Defendant Entitled to Attorney’s Fees Even if Case Dropped

The defendants in an alleged SLAPP suit are entitled to attorneys fees even if the plaintiffs drop the case before the SLAPP motion to strike is heard, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled.

The appellate panel overturned the ruling of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl, saying that Kuhl’s ruling "constitutes a nullification of an important part of California’s anti-SLAPP legislation" because it denies the defendants monetary relief and relieves the plaintiffs of punis...

San Bernadino County Planner Indicted for Hiding Public Records; Valery Pilmer Denies Wrongdoing in Failed Desert Landfill Propo

The lengthy story of a proposal to bury Los Angeles County trash in San Bernardino County took a surprising turn when San Bernardino County’s long-time planning director was indicted on charges of allegedly hiding, altering or destroying public records and lying about it in a sworn statement.

Land Use Services Director Valery Pilmer pleaded not guilty after being indicted in late January by a special San Bernardino County grand jury investigating the Rail-Cycle landfill project. She has since been pla...

North Natomas HCP

North Natomas

A lawsuit challenging a habitat conservation plan for Sacramento's North Natomas area has been filed in federal court by a group of environmentalists. A popular tool promoted by the Clinton administration, HCPs are intended to end disputes with landowners over plants and animals covered by the Endangered Species Act.

Under the Natomas HCP, an acre of land is to be preserved for every two acres developed in the area, a few miles north of downtown Sacramento along Interstat...

Smart Growth Hits the Agenda of California and National Leaders; Al Gore Supports ‘Livability Initiative’ as an Elixir for Subu

State and national politicians are jumping on the anti-sprawl bandwagon like never before, with no less than Vice President Al Gore launching a "livability initiative." Gore’s proposal, which President Clinton mentioned during the State of the Union speech, promotes mass transit, open space conservation and development within existing cities. Pundits expect Gore may make the issue a cornerstone of his presidential campaign.

Although new California Gov. Gray Davis has yet to discuss the subject...

Richmond City Center: The Virtues of Simplicity

Heavens, how did we ever design cities before marketing existed?

Sarcasm aside, let us observe that the Main Street movement, despite its harkening of the past, has not necessarily encouraged simplicity. In today's marketing-driven urban-design culture, it does not seem to be enough to bring back housing and commercial uses. We must also bring in giant retail centers and brand-name retailers (usually the same 50 or so names you find in regional malls).

Then the city itself must be...

El Dorado County May Reconsider Long-Range Development Plans

A Superior Court ruling invalidating the environmental impact report for El Dorado County’s general plan is likely to reopen debate over the amount of growth allowed in the county and puts into question the future of several large developments.

In a 142-page ruling, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Cecily Bond determined that the EIR violated the California Environmental Quality Act in 23 different ways. The judge found the county did not adequately address, among other things, impacts on w...

Ordering Poolrooms Closed at 2 a.m. Violates Equal Protection

In a split decision, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled that the City of Riverside’s requirement that poolrooms be closed from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. is unconstitutional because it denies poolroom owners equal protection under the law.

Noting that the ordinance dates back to 1909, Acting Presiding Justice Thomas Hollenhorst wrote for the majority: "Unfortunately, times are different today, and there are many establishments that cater to idleness and are open all night. The City...