City Must Pay for Temporary Takings: L.A.’s Delay in Issuing Permit Earns Landowner $1.2 Million

Delays by the City of Los Angeles in issuing a permit to demolish a burned-out hotel amounted to a temporary taking, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled. The unanimous three-judge appellate panel upheld a trial court’s ruling that awarded the landowner $1.2 million, plus interest, for the inverse condemnation.

The court upheld the trial court’s monetary award after concluding that the city’s delay in issuing the demolition permit was not part of the normal development review process, and...

Stanford Losing Land-Use Autonomy to County

Stanford University has proposed construction of about 3,000 housing units and 2 million square feet of academic and cultural facilities, offices and athletic structures. At the same time, Santa Clara County is exerting greater control over Stanford land use then ever before. Stanford — which owns 8,180 acres, two-thirds of which is open space — has submitted a draft Community Plan to the county. The document is more detailed than previous plans, something local government leaders and community ac...

Indian Wells donates housing money.

The wealthy City of Indian Wells will give $1.5 million in housing funds to the City of Coachella, a neighboring town where residents’ median income is less than one-third that of Indian Wells’ citizens. The money is a portion of the mandatory 20% housing set-aside from an Indian Wells redevelopment project, which transformed desert land into an upscale golf resort.

Indian Wells has spent $13.6 million in housing funds on 90 senior apartments and earmarked $14.6 million for 100 more senior units. The ...

Riverside County Integrates Three Planning Efforts: Land Use, Transportation and Habitat Planning are Combined

Faced with the possibility of adding another 1.5 million people during the next 20 years, Riverside County has embarked on an ambitious effort to plan for that growth. The Riverside County Integrated Plan seeks to combine land use, transportation, and habitat planning into one unified blueprint for growth.

County officials emphasize that the planning process does not seek to restrict growth. Rather, the goal of the process is to channel and accommodate new growth while meeting federal standards f...

Monster Houses Devour Neighborhood Scale

In a currently popular coffee-table book titled The Not So Big House, Minneapolis-based architect Sarah Susanka argues for an age-old idea that seems quaint in our hyper economic boom times: quality is better than quantity. When it comes to addressing the current planning dilemma called monster houses — the phenomenon of tearing down older houses and rebuilding with Godzilla proportions in Bambi neighborhoods — Susanka may be to the 2000s what Andres Duany was to the 1990s: an architect that has desig...

Army Corps of Engineers Changes Course in Flood Control

Five California waterways are in the running for federal funding in a new program to help restore and protect their environmental features while building protection against floods.

A federal water bill signed by President Clinton last August listed the waterways. The program is another sign of a dramatic shift in how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approaches flood control. Instead of trying to control water flows and protect every structure from harm’s way, under the new Challenge 21 (also.

Growth Borders Start Taking Hold In Central Valley: Stanislaus County Voters Could Decide UBG Initiatives This Year

California’s Central Valley, the most important part of the state’s giant agriculture industry, will have three times as many residents in 2040 as it does now, according to demographers. The conflict between population growth and farming is driving many planning efforts, some of which are including urban growth boundaries as a means of protecting agriculture.

The growth-boundary concept is not new in the Central Valley. Tulare County and its largest cities have had urban growth boundaries for 20 year...

Housing Rises On Sacramento’s List Of Priorities : Gov. Davis Wins Praise For Choice Of New HCD Director

As a booming economy continues to drive up housing prices, California’s top officials are placing a higher priority on housing issues in the year 2000. But with Democrats firmly in charge in Sacramento, the state’s efforts appear likely to focus on providing more public assistance for housing, rather than pushing for a dramatic reform on policy issues such as the housing element law.

Gov. Gray Davis appears ready to give higher priority to housing issues in his second year in office than he did in his...

Sonoma County Grapevine Wars Continue to Rage

With complaints rising in Sonoma County regarding the expansion of vineyards, county officials have adopted regulations for grape planting. However, at least some environmentalists and homeowners believe the restrictions are inadequate, and the protests show no sign of abating.

Within the last year or so, the amount of Sonoma County property planted as vineyards has surpassed the acreage in the county’s nine incorporated cities. Environmentalists and homeowners complain that these new viney...

Brownfields Reuse Is Not Always Black and White

About 1,000 industrial and warehouse jobs would return to downtown Los Angeles if a project proposed next to Chinatown moves forward. However, environmentalists and some neighborhood advocates are fighting the project because they say the area already has enough warehouses.

Developer Ed Roski Jr., who recently helped bring the Staples Center to downtown, proposes building a $60 million, 950,000-square-foot warehouse and industrial center called River Station. Roski’s firm, Majestic Realty,...

Disney goes to Glendale

Less than 10 miles north of the Cornfield, Walt Disney Co. has proposed a large “creative campus” on the grounds of the former Grand Central Air Terminal, a Glendale airport that closed in 1959. Disney’s plans are sketchy, but the entertainment giant has revealed plans for four district projects on the site: a 52-acre campus to house the theme park research and development operations; a 24-acre soundstage and production facility; a 27-acre media and technology campus that would have space available for ...

Water Plan Must Match General Plan: Court Also Expands State Say Over FERC-Licensed Dams

An appellate court has thrown out an environmental impact report for a 17,000-acre-foot water project in El Dorado County because the EIR was predicated on an unadopted, draft general plan. In the same far-reaching opinion, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled that the purchase of three reservoirs by an irrigation district was not categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act because the district planned to provide the water for consumption, which would have been a new use.

Th...

Lack of Environmental Study Dooms Sierra Madre Election

The Second District Court of Appeal has thrown out the results of an election in the City of Sierra Madre because the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act.

In a December 1999 decision, the court invalidated an April 1998 election in which voters approved a city-sponsored measure that removed 29 properties from the city’s Register of Historic Landmarks. City officials put the issue on the ballot as a way of avoiding a study of the impacts of delisting the properties. But the court sai...

Rent Control: Mobile Home Rent Control Ordinance Ruled Constitutional

The City of Montclair’s ordinance controlling rents in mobile home parks is constitutional, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled. The court rejected mobile home park owners’ argument that the ordinance was a regulatory taking without compensation.

Citing the California Supreme Court’s decision in Santa Monica Beach, Ltd. v. Superior Court, (1999) 19 Cal.4th 952, the appellate court ruled that “a rent control ordinance is a regulatory taking if it is an arbitrary regulation of property rights....

Inverse Condemnation: Court Rules Telephone Tower Neither A Taking Nor Nuisance

Construction of a 130-foot-tall cellular telephone transmission tower does not constitute inverse condemnation of a neighboring property from which residents can see the tower, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled.

In a case from Butte County, the court also ruled that the tower did not constitute a nuisance because it did not harm neighbors’ use of their property.

“[W]hile we have sympathy for plaintiffs’ plight, not all plights give rise to legal rights,” Justice Daniel Kolkey wrote for th...