Headline Story

Rent Control Gains Traction Amid Housing Crisis in Bay Area

Like a monster that’s been hiding in the basement for decades, rent control is rearing its head in the Bay Area. Whether it is an ugly countenance or a smiling face is a matter of perspective.
While the Bay Area has struggled with housing shortages and rising rents for the past decade or so, it has become evident that no amount of development will, in the near term, bring rents back down to manageable levels for residents earning median incomes and below. As tech jobs have made Bay Area residents more wealthy, and attracted newcomers flush with cash, landlords in unregulated cities have tried to cash in by raising rents and even evicting incumbent tenants. 

Therefore, over the past year, cities have again turned to what is, in many ways, the tool of last resort to preserve affordable housing.
“A year ago we had the wild west,” said Eric Strimling, spokesperson for the Alameda Renters Coalition, of Alameda’s rental market. “There were pretty much no regulation at all. Evict at will, raise rents at will.”

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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...

San Diego Cargo Airport Plan Hits Local Turbulence

A proposed $500 million cargo airport southeast of San Diego could bolster the area’s manufacturing sector, but opposition to the airport is growing.

With passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the economic expansion of the late 1990s, the San Diego-Tijuana metropolitan area has become a major manufacturing hub. Factories on either side of the border turn out clothes, televisions, appliances, parts and other items.

However, distributing the products to markets, or to final ass...

Court Rules That Losing Party Doesn’t Qualify for Attorney’s Fees

The Fourth District Court of Appeal has overturned an award of nearly $300,000 in attorneys fees to groups that lost a case based on the California Environmental Quality Act. The Fourth District ruled that even though the groups felt obliged to pursue the lawsuit, which followed an earlier successful suit, they were not entitled to fees in the second lawsuit.

The case stems from Riverside County’s approval of the giant Eagle Mountain landfill at a former iron-ore mine only 1.5 miles from Joshua...

Initiatives: Homeowners Associations Cleared in Anti-El-Toro Airport Campaign

Homeowners associations in the retirement community of Leisure World acted legally when they spent half a million dollars of homeowners assessments on an initiative campaign to halt a proposed airport, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled.

The court cleared the political activity of the Golden Rain Foundation of Laguna Hills and three of its member homeowner associations. The groups provided $542,000 for Orange County’s Measure S, a 1996 ballot initiative aimed at blocking development...

Water: Ruling for Met Water District Strikes at ‘Water Wheeling’ Plans

The Metropolitan Water District won a round of a lawsuit over the price it charges for conveying private transfers of water. A three-judge panel of the Second District Court of Appeal, Division Five, ruled that Metropolitan can include its capital investment and other system-wide costs when figuring the fee it charges for handling water transfers.

The appellate court overturned the decision of San Francisco Superior Court Judge Laurence Kay, who had ruled Metropolitan improperly included costs unrelat...

County Finds ‘Smart Growth’ Isn’t Easy

When they adopted a new general plan in 1993, Sacramento County supervisors approved what would now be called "smart growth" policies. The general plan established an urban growth boundary (called an urban services boundary), encouraged dense residential development, and designated a number of areas for transit-oriented development.

Thus far, the county has blocked development outside the urban services boundary, despite attempts by developers to bust the boundary. But implementing higher densi...

Army Corps of Engineers’ Removal of Piers at Oakland is Upheld

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had the authority to remove two dilapidated piers in Oakland Harbor to make room for port expansion, and then bill the pier owner for the removal, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

The Ninth Circuit made clear that the Corps of Engineers has broad authorities under the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899, 33 U.S.C. §403, and the Commerce Clause of the constitution. The ruling was another loss for the pier’s owners, Alameda Gateway Ltd. ...

Project Opponents Lose for Not Following Appeal Process

An appellate court has ruled against a citizens group that had protested Placer County’s handling of an application for a 22-unit lodge at Lake Tahoe. The Third District Court of Appeal ruled that the citizens group had no standing to bring a lawsuit based on alleged violations of the California Environmental Quality Act because the group did not seek county Board of Supervisors’ review of the negative declaration approved by the Planning Commission.

The unanimous three-judge panel rejected the ...