Headline Story

Ballot Initiative Takes Aim at Planning in Los Angeles

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.  

Supreme Court:

The U.S. Supreme Court let stand another 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, thus one striking down a zoning ordinance aimed at adult businesses. The 11th Circuit said the City of Jacksonville, Florida, impinged on businesses’ free speech by requiring so-called lingerie shops — actually nightclubs with nude dancers — to get a special exemption before they could open in any but two locations in the city.

The 11th Circuit said Jacksonville’s zoning law gave city officials too much discreti...

Stanislaus County Considers Growth Initiatives, Salida Development Plan

Two events will shape Stanislaus County planning and development issues this year: a proposed ballot initiative to rein in urban sprawl, and a plan to encourage business development in an unincorporated community north of Modesto.

Proponents of the farmland-protection initiative have until May 11 to gather signatures to place it on the November ballot after the county Board of Supervisors refused to do so. Sponsored by the group GOAL (Growth: Orderly, Affordable, and Livable), the measur...

Cathedral City Tames the Highway

Few other land uses inspire ambivalence like the highway, and rightly so. Like the twin Hindu deities, Brahman and Vishnu, the highway is both creator and destroyer, giving life to cities and then making them uninhabitable. Serving the role played by the railroad and the river in earlier times, the highway is the city’s lifeline to the larger world. And just as the river and the railroad each gave the city a new kind of settlement, the highway has given rise to its own type of urbanism: the strip....

George Brewster

George B. Brewster has served as executive director of the California Center for Land Recycling since its founding in 1996. The nonprofit organization advocates sustainable community development and provides programs to facilitate redevelopment of brownfields, which are abandoned or underutilized sites hampered by real or perceived contamination.

Brewster has an extensive background in real estate development, asset management and finance, and he serves on the Urban Land Institute’s Infill Dev...

April 11 Municipal Election Results: Culver CIty Electorate Backs Redevelopment While Benecia Voters Support Green Spaces

Voters in Culver City rejected an initiative that would have blocked a downtown redevelopment project, while voters in Benicia overwhelmingly approved an open space protection measure during April 11 special elections. The split decisions on growth follow March 7 balloting, when three-quarters of slow-growth measures failed.

In Culver City, which lies a few miles north of Los Angeles International Airport, Measure M received only 32.8% of the vote. The complex Save Our Schools Initiative would ...


The Kings County Board of Supervisors has approved conditional use permits for four giant dairies on 6,000 acres of farmland between Hanford and Corcoran. The dairies could accommodate up to 47,700 milk cows.

Farming conglomerate J.G. Boswell Co. has indicated it will sell the four dairy sites to farmers who want to expand their herds or who are moving from the Chino diary preserve in San Bernardino County, where urban development is planned.

In early April, Kings County supervisors voted 3-0...

Local Planners Resist OPR Mandate: Annual General Plan Progress Reports Are a Source of Contention

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research is insisting that cities and counties file annual general plan progress and implementation reports, but many local planners are questioning the mandate.

Some planning directors do not want such reports to become political fodder because they have the potential to reflect badly on a local jurisdiction. Others say preparing an annual report is a bureaucratic exercise that takes time away from more worthwhile planning. The California County Planning Di...

Regional Malls, Big Boxes Flood Sacramento Retail Market

There is no doubt that the Sacramento metropolitan area is awash in retail shopping development, but whether or not the region is facing an excess of retail stores is subject to debate.

The question arises while a 1.1-million-square-foot regional mall prepares to open in Roseville this summer, and regional malls of similar size are proposed in Folsom and Elk Grove. Plus, the City of Sacramento continues to consider large-scale downtown retail development.

In three recent studies performed fo...

Garbage Company Loses Case Because It Lacks Legal Standing

A garbage company does not have legal standing to file a lawsuit regarding the environmental review of a competing company’s landfill plans, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled.

The three-judge panel unanimously voted to dismiss a suit filed by Waste Management of Alameda County. Waste Management argued that Alameda County should have required environmental impact report before allowing Browning-Ferris Industries to accept "designated wastes" because the county required Waste Manageme...

Department of Fish and Game Fees for Reviewing Documents Survives

The Department of Fish & Game’s flat fees for reviewing documents under the California Environmental Quality Act do not constitute taxes even though the fees do not reflect the exact cost of the CEQA review in every case, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled.

In rejecting a Shasta County landowner’s argument to the contrary, the Third District reaffirmed a longstanding principle of "takings" law that property-rights advocates have unsuccessfully sought to overturn: the courts should no...

State Supreme Coourt Accepts Election-Based CEQA Case

The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear its first California Environmental Quality Act case in three years.

The state’s high court also agreed to review a significant brownfields case, and to let stand a controversial CEQA ruling involving water and local general plans.

The court accepted for review Friends of Sierra Madre v. City of Sierra Madre, No. S085088, in which the Second District Court of Appeal invalidated an election because the city violated CEQA. (See CP&DR Legal Digest, Janua...

Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor served as executive director of the San Jose Redevelopment Agency for 20 years before retiring in 1999. Prior to his work in San Jose, Taylor held a similar job in Cincinnati. A Boston native, he is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s School of Architecture.

With a tight control over the Redevelopment Agency, Taylor’s task was to revive San Jose’s downtown, from which developers, businesses, residents and even city government had been fleeing since the 1950s. At times h...

Prescriptive Rights: Recreational Trail Users Win Right to Access Dirt Road

A Nevada County landowner cannot prevent the public from using a dirt road across his property, as public access to the road was established prior to a 1972 state law that greatly limited prescriptive easements, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled.

The public acquired — under the manner outlined by State Supreme Court rulings — the right to walk, run, cycle and ride horses on a dirt road adjacent to a Nevada Irrigation District (NID) irrigation canal on property owned by Jon Blasius, t...

Housing Bills Receive Broad Support: More Than 100 Land-Use Bills Alive in State Legislature

Business owners, labor leaders and housing advocates have formed an alliance to promote a package of nine bills intended to ease the approval process for new homes near job sites. The bills would, variously, modify the California Environmental Quality Act, provide financial incentives to local governments, address liability hurdles to construction of condominiums, and even allow additional analysis of growth-control initiatives.

The coalition has formed because of the affordable housing shortage...

Municipal Liability: City Not Liable for Landslide Despite Ignoring Regulations

A city is not liable for damages sustained because it failed to record a notice that a property was in a known landslide zone, despite a city ordinance requiring such recordation, the California Supreme Court has ruled.

In a case watched closely by many California cities and counties, the state Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the City of Los Angeles was not liable when the 1994 Northridge earthquake caused a landslide that destroyed a house in Pacific Palisades.

Justices did not dispute landowne...

Tenative Parcel Map Expiration Upheld: Court Rejects Many Arguments Presented By Developer, City

A vesting tentative parcel map approved in 1990 but never recorded as a final parcel map had expired by the time a developer tried to act on the map in 1996, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled. The court held that under both the Subdivision Map Act and the Manhattan Beach Municipal Code, the map for a four-unit beachside condominium project was no longer valid.

The unanimous three-judge panel also found that project opponents properly exhausted their administrative remedies even thou...