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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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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 ...

Lake Tahoe Property Owners Lose Takings Fight: Ninth Circuit Terms Temporary Moratorium a ‘Crucial Mechanism’

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against Lake Tahoe landowners who claimed that temporary building moratoriums and regional land use plans amounted to unconstitutional takings of their property.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency was not liable for a taking when it imposed a 32-month building moratorium during the early 1980s. The court also held TRPA was not liable for a taking when a court blocked implementation of a 1984 Regional Plan. Finally, ...

Sacramento County Attempts to hold the Line on Urban Growth

A recently adopted specific plan for nearly four square miles in southern Sacramento County represents the first time county officials have instituted a major farmland mitigation program. The East Franklin Specific Plan calls for developers of 2,475 acres to contribute $950 per acre to an account that will purchase agricultural easements or property in a nearby farming area. Whether farm owners will cooperate, however, is uncertain.

The mitigation fee is intended to protect about 26,000 acres ...

Indian Casinos Sweep Across State: Locals Have No Jurisdiction, But Some Tribes Are Negotiating Anyway

With the approval last March of a statewide initiative and the signing of a pact between the governor’s office and 63 Indian tribes, development of Indian casinos is taking off. Proposals for major new casinos are introduced seemingly every week, and tribes that operate many of the existing 39 casinos have expansion plans.

The casino boom is passing by local government officials, who have no say over what happens on lands held in trust for Indian tribes. "If it’s reservation land, they pretty much do ...

Michael Sweeney

Michael Sweeney is the undersecretary of the California Resources Agency, the umbrella entity for seven state departments that address natural resources. Prior to his appointment in 1999, Sweeney was an Democratic assemblyman from Alameda County for two terms. He also served as mayor of Hayward from 1990 to 1994, and as a Hayward city councilman from 1982 to 1990. A teacher before entering politics full-time, Sweeney has bachelors and masters degrees in political science from California State U...

Redevelopment Repairs Economy and Environement

The Park Avenue Project in the City of South Lake Tahoe is not the largest or the most expensive downtown plan ever contemplated in California, but it might be the most ambitious. I can’t name too many other downtown projects that undertake, all at once, to remove blighted buildings, provide all-new urban design, build a new resort hotel, retail space, high-end condominiums and an ice-skating rink, erect a gondola that carries visitors to two local ski areas — and undertakes major environmental pro...

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The massive Newhall Ranch development project received a setback when a Kern County Superior Court judge found defects in the environmental impact report and ordered Los Angeles County to re-examine some issues — especially issues related to water supply. However, the judge rejected Ventura County’s argument that it should have some regulatory jurisdiction over the project.

Los Angeles County approved a project of 21,600 homes on the 12,000-acre site last year (see CP&DR, January 1999). The propo...

Jobs are Plentiful, Homes are Not: Effects of Silicon Valley Housing Shortage Spread over Vast Region

A proposal from Cisco Systems to build a 6.6 million-square-foot campus for up to 20,000 workers in south San Jose has focused attention on the Silicon Valley’s housing shortage. Cities and counties south of San Jose feel threatened by the continued industrial development in Silicon Valley because more and more technology employees are commuting from places like Hollister, Salinas and Santa Cruz.

The City of San Jose, however, says it has long carried more than its fair share of the housing load...

U.S. Supreme Court: BLM Rangeland Grazing Rules Withstand Ranchers’ Challenge

In a case watched closely by ranchers and environmentalists, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld 1995 grazing regulations for public lands, including about 6.7 million acres in California controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.

Ranchers challenged Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt’s power to impose the new rules, which ranchers said would raise their expenses and threaten their livestock businesses. But a unanimous Supreme Court, interpreting the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act, 43 U.S.C. §315, said ...

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"Takings" litigation appears to be having a substantial impact on planners and planning, according to a new study by the California Research Bureau. Researcher Daniel Pollack found that takings concerns affect policymaking, the levying of fees and exactions, and reviews of individual projects.

"It is clear that takings issues are having some effect on both the style and substance of land use planning in many cities and counties," wrote Pollack, who surveyed California city and county planning ...