LAFCO: AG’s Opinion Addresses Alternate Member’s Role

Alternate members of a Local Agency Formation Commission, when not serving in the place of regular members, may participate in public hearings and deliberations, but they may not attend closed sessions, according to a state Attorney General’s opinion.

The opinion should lead to a standardization of practices for the 57 LAFCOs in California, said Mike Gotch, executive director of the California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions.

In fact, Gotch was the one who raised the issue of parti...

Amphitheatre and Speedway Find a Home in Yuba County

Auto racetracks and rock concert venues are often seen as noisy land uses with the potential to generate monster traffic jams. Rare is the homeowner who wants a speedway or concert amphitheater in his back yard.

Thus, the lack of opposition to plans to build a speedway and amphitheater in southern Yuba County is extraordinary — but no more extraordinary than the fact that this $90 million development is pegged for one of California’s poorest counties.

Preliminary grading and road work has commenced ...

L.A. may have multiple planning commissions

L.A. may have multiple planning commissions

An overhaul of the Los Angeles City Charter, which will go before voters June 13, calls for creation of at least five area planning commissions. But those area commissions would have limited powers, and the citywide Planning Commission would remain in place, under the proposal.

"The citywide Planning Commission is seen as a body that’s not very closely related to the people," Jackie DuPont-Walker, chairwoman of the Elected Charter Reform Commission said. ...

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...