Public Transit Advances in Congested Bay Area

Silicon Valley's job boom has underscored gaps in the transit systems in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has renewed calls to extend BART, the costly regional transit system that was once supposed to ring San Francisco Bay.

But while construction continues on a $1.5 billion extension of BART from northern San Mateo County to San Francisco International Airport, other plans to extend BART have received mixed receptions. A ballot initiative to extend BART south of the airport through S...

Sonoma Voters Reject Resort

An initiative to prevent hotel and resort development on 60 acres of city-owned land in Sonoma passed with 77 percent of the vote during a Sept. 21 special election that attracted 59% of registered voters. A Mexican investor had proposed an upscale, 100-room resort for the hillside above Sonoma Plaza. Project opponents said they wanted to preserve open space and a scenic view.

Takings Case Doesn’t Get Jury Trial: Del Monte Dunes Precedent Not Applicable in All Cases

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has rejected a takings claim and request for a jury trial filed by a property owner in Washington who disputed a zoning decision made under that state’s Growth Management Act of 1990.

It was the Ninth Circuit’s first takings decision since the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold a takings decision and jury award of damages in May. In City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at Monterey Ltd., 119 S. Ct. 1624, the high court broke new ground by allowing an aggrieved...

CERCLA: Lawsuit Over Ft. Ord Cleanup Gets Light to Proceed

The federal Superfund law allows citizens to file lawsuits challenging remedial cleanup of hazardous material at a former military base, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. The September ruling permits a federal lawsuit to move forward against the Army over burial of hazardous materials at the former Fort Ord Army base in Monterey.

Environmentalists charge that the Army’s plan to bury contaminated soil in an on-site landfill is subject to review under the California Environmental Quality...

Lawmakers Pass Few Significant Land-Ue Bills : Davis Vetoes Attempt to Halt Spread of Big-Box Retailers

Although Democrats took control of state government this year for the first time since the early 1980s, the legislative session did not produce a batch of liberal bills. In fact, with regards to land use, environmental regulation and local government finance, the session may have been most remarkable for what lawmakers did not do.

The Legislature approved no major changes to the California Environmental Quality Act. Transportation and affordable housing bonds died. Proposals to reduce the v...

Roy Rodgers Meets Marks-Roos in Murrieta

I need to start this column with some personal disclosures: I have never shot fish in a barrel. I deny ever having stolen candy from a baby. (Actually, it depends on how you define "stolen.") And I have never rolled off a log, at least not as an adult.

So, I don’t really know how easy all these things are. But then again, none of them could be easier than finding the flaws in the City of Murrieta's plan to provide about $115 million in bond financing for the RogersDale theme park to be built in the R...

Wal-Mart Takes Its Case to Eureka Voters--And Loses

Voters in Eureka have handed a setback to the Bentonville, Arkansas-based denizens of gray big boxes. In a late August election, Eureka voters rejected rezoning to allow a Wal-Mart near the waterfront. The election polarized the city, but officials pledged that economic development efforts would continue with or without Wal-Mart.

The loss in the Humboldt County seat was a rare defeat for Wal-Mart — but probably not surprising considering that it occurred in an independent-minded North Coast...

Wal-Mart Takes Its Case to Eureka Voters--And Loses

Voters in Eureka have handed a setback to the Bentonville, Arkansas-based denizens of gray big boxes. In a late August election, Eureka voters rejected rezoning to allow a Wal-Mart near the waterfront. The election polarized the city, but officials pledged that economic development efforts would continue with or without Wal-Mart.

The loss in the Humboldt County seat was a rare defeat for Wal-Mart — but probably not surprising considering that it occurred in an independent-minded North Coast...

After 3 Decades, Environmentalists Continue to Win CEQA Cases

Citizens and organizations with gripes about proposed developments are continuing to win more big lawsuits based on the California Environmental Quality Act than they are losing. According to a CP&DR analysis, petitioners — who these days range from environmentalists to public agencies in dispute with other public agencies — have won 14 of 25 significant, published CEQA cases since 1996. And that record appears to be just fine with the state Supreme Court, which shows no interest in CEQA these ...

LAFCO: Cal Supremes Hand Setback to Central Valley Annexation

A lawsuit challenging the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission’s approval of a large annexation has been reinstated by the California Supreme Court.

The state’s high court overturned a decision by the Third District Court of Appeals against the Sierra Club and the San Joaquin Valley Farm Bureau. The appellate court ruled that the environmentalists and farmers did not exhaust their administrative remedies because they had not requested a LAFCO rehearing. Thus, under the "Alexander rule...

Local Assessments: 1 Survives, Another Fails Legal Challenges

Local government won one round and lost one round in separate, recent decisions over taxes levied without voter approval. The City of La Habra defended its utility users’ tax from a lawsuit that claimed the tax violated a Proposition 62 requirement of voter approval. However, the City of Los Angeles lost a case in which an annual assessment on apartment owners was ruled a violation of Proposition 218, which also mandates voter-approval.

Both cases — which appear to set important precedents regarding l...

Napa Uncorks New Downtown to Tap Tourist, Wine Industries

Although it shares a name with the ritzy wine-making region, the City of Napa has long been a mostly blue collar city with only weak links to the big-dollar wine and tourism industries. But downtown Napa, home to professional offices and mom-and-pop stores that close before dark, is about to become a player in the business of wine tourism, which brings 5 million visitors a year to Napa Valley.

Legendary winemaker Robert Mondavi chose a 12-acre site on the eastern edge of downtown Napa for th...

Cal Supremes Won’t Review Dump EIR, Hotel Conversion

In state Supreme Court action, the court declined to review a landfill EIR, and, in an unrelated case, the court said it will not decide a San Francisco hotel conversion case that had already been briefed.

In the landfill case, a Fourth District Court of Appeals decision to uphold an environmental impact report for the giant Eagle Mountain landfill in Riverside County will stand. Only two of the seven justices, Joyce Kennard and Ming Chin, voted to review the decision in National Parks & Cons...

Adult Business Ruling Stands

The Fourth District Court of Appeals has denied the City of Anaheim’s petition for rehearing in a case in which the court ordered Anaheim to approve permits for an adult cabaret.

The court did modify its opinion in Badi Abraham Gammoh v. City of Anaheim, 1999 Daily Journal D.A.R. 6685, (CP&DR Legal Digest August 1999), but the modifications did not alter the judgement against the city.

The court had ruled that Anaheim’s actions in denying permits for Gammoh’s Funtease theater did not pass ...

Padres Stadium Election Upheld

In an unpublished opinion, the Fourth District Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit over the November 1998 ballot measure approving financing for San Diego’s new baseball stadium.

Ballpark opponents, led by former City Councilman Bruce Henderson, argued that the city should have prepared an EIR ahead of time, that the measure required a two-thirds vote, and that Proposition C should have specified that the city would incur $225 million of new debt. The unanimous three-judge panel rejected al...