Headline Story

The Tech Housing Crunch’s Fracking Dilemma

A couple of weeks ago I heard a spiel by one of the founders of a new startup called Feastly, which is trying to pair up chefs with diners. Chefs wake up in the morning, go into their kitchen, prepare whatever they want, put out a call on the Internet – and if it’s something you want to eat, you go to their house and dine. Feastly, in other words, turns every dining room into a restaurant.

It was a compelling pitch, but the truth of the matter is that Feastly is one of hundreds – thousands – millions? – of startups trying to be the Uber or AirBNB of [name your activity]. And it highlights a sudden and enormous challenge that planners in California are facing. Planners, for the most part, write and implement regulations that seek to plan for and control land uses. They do so for a variety of well-established reasons – ensuring that public health and safety are protected, but also helping to stimulate, shape, and channel the supply of built space so that the interests of a given community are balanced against the demands of the marketplace.

But how can you possibly plan for and control land uses when every bedroom is a hotel room, and every dining room is a restaurant, and every coffee shop is an office, and conversely every office is a potential living room or dining room or bedroom? 

Pending Litigation: Developer Attacks Referendum Over Subdivision Agreement

Less than a week after voters decided nearly 20 growth-related ballot measures, an attorney for a developer who lost an election last January made its case to the Second District Court of Appeal. The lawyer for Costa Mesa-based Messenger Development argued that a referendum over a 3,200-home development in the City of Moorpark was illegal.

During a January special election, Moorpark voters overturned their City Council’s approval of Hidden Creek Ranch, a subdivision proposed inside Moorpark’...

Growth-Control Initiatives Receive Mixed Reception In Off-Year Election: Voters Defeat East Bay CAPP, But Development Fight Cont

In an off-year election that surprised many observers, slow-growth advocates lost battles in some surprising places, but they also claimed victories in some pro-growth cities. Most importantly, voters in the East Bay cities of San Ramon, Pleasanton and Livermore rejected the Citizens Alliance for Public Planning initiatives that would have put on future ballots all but the tiniest of developments. And, in the first test of a Ventura County SOAR growth restriction, the electorate approved rezoni...

Native Americans Agree To Follow County Rules

"I don’t have to talk to you," the developer says to the public official. "I have the right to build whatever I want, wherever I want it."

How many developers, exhausted or hamstrung by local government, have longed to say those words? And how can local government respond, when a developer actually does say those words to them — with the full support of federal law?

As it turns out, at least one group of developers in California actually can say those words, and back them up: Na...

Mello-Roos Foreclosure Upheld

Delays in constructing roads and utilities funded by Mello-Roos bonds do not absolve property owners of paying Mello-Roos assessments, the Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled in a recently published opinion. In a case from Riverside County, the unanimous three-judge panel found that property owners have an obligation to bondholders that is independent of any dispute over how bond proceeds are used.

The County created a community facilities district under the Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act of 1...

Long Beach Argument to Cut Base-Year Property Values Fails

The Fourth District Court of Appeal has sided with the County of Los Angeles in its tug of war with the City of Long Beach over the setting of base year property values in a redevelopment area.

The court concluded that the tax assessment role in place when Long Beach approved the redevelopment plan contained the base year property values. The court rejected Long Beach’s argument that the base year values should reflect the lowering of some property values by the county’s own Assessment Appeals Board.

Developer May Sue City Over 20-Year Planning Process

A landowner may sue the City of Huntington Beach for a temporary taking because of city delays in adopting a Local Coastal Plan and zoning for the property, the Fourth District Court of Appeals has ruled.

The city argued that the takings claim of the Mills Land & Water Company was not ripe because Mills never sought a final determination regarding the permissible type and intensity of development. But the appellate court ruled that "[t]he city had an obligation to get its LCP in place within a reason...

Water Transfers Remain an Easy Answer in Theory : But Practical Rules Are Muddy

As more large development proposals rely on water transfers to meet expected urban needs, the complexity of such transfers becomes apparent. Water transfers can engender strong opposition, especially from people in the area that would lose the water, and sizeable water transfers continue to hit major snags.

At least four giant development projects, several Central Valley cities, and one Southern California water agency intend to siphon water from farmland to new homes and businesses. But all...

Latest initiative Might Preclude New Airport at El Toro

The future of the El Toro Marine Corps base in Orange County remains as clouded as ever, with voters likely to decide in March on an initiative that could doom a commercial airport proposed for the site.

A 3-2 majority on the Orange County Board of Supervisors continues to push ahead plans for an international airport at El Toro, located in and adjacent to the City of Irvine. But the Safe and Healthy Communities initiative would require two-thirds of voters to approve a new airport.

Further ...

One Phase of Diablo Grande Construction May Begin Soon

A Stanislaus County superior court judge appears to have cleared the way for housing construction at the controversial Diablo Grande development in the hills west of Interstate 5, near Patterson. Judge Donald Shaver said Stanislaus County may permit construction that would be served by water sources that have been "fully and adequately reviewed under CEQA."

Project proponents contend the Oct. 1 ruling allows them to pursue the first phase of the project, which amounts to 2,000 homes, two go...

Anti-Stadium Initiative Barred

An appellate court has blocked from the ballot an initiative that seeks to overturn a 1997 ballot measure that approved partial public financing for a new San Francisco 49ers football stadium and amended the city’s zoning ordinance to allow the stadium and an adjacent shopping mall. (See CP&DR Economic Development, July 1997.)

Stadium opponents gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot an initiative that would overturn the 1997 measures. The 49ers sued and San Francisco Superior ...

Planner Pleads No Contest in Rail-Cycle Case

Valery Pilmer, a former San Bernardino County land use services director, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of stealing a public document. Under the plea agreement with the county district attorney’s office, Pilmer was sentenced to 300 hours of community service and retired from county employment effective October 15.

Pilmer was indicted earlier this year on four felony counts relating to hiding, altering or destroying public records and lying about it in a sworn statement. The charges stem f...

Paseo Pasadena: A Retail Mall Turns Urban Village

Architects and planners like to think they are building "for the ages." Recent experience, however, suggests the very opposite. The culture, the economy and fashions in urban design all appear to be in a rapid state of change. Perhaps the Internet and advances in telecommunications are shortening the half-life of cultural events. Perhaps we’re just getting older and the world seems to be getting faster. Notwithstanding, buildings that exemplified urban life only 20 years ago are rapidly becoming obsolet...

Infill Receives CEQA Exemption: In FIrst Published Ruling, Court Makes Guidelines Retroactive

A 5,855-square-foot retail and office building proposed for downtown Mill Valley is exempt from environmental review under revised California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines, the First District Court of Appeals has ruled.

The court ruled that buildings of up to 10,000 square feet proposed for an urban area may be exempt from CEQA review. In the Mill Valley case, the court concluded that the project opponent did not prove the existence of any "unusual circumstances" that would preclude the exempti...

Incorporation: City of Shasta Lake Entitled to Proposition 172 Revenue

A six-year dispute between Shasta County and the new City of Shasta Lake regarding tax revenue has been decided in favor of the city.

The Third District Court of Appeals upheld nearly all aspects of a ruling issued during binding arbitration by retired Siskiyou County Superior Court Judge James Kleaver. The appellate court said the city, which incorporated on July 2, 1993, has the right to receive Proposition 172 sales tax revenue and that the Proposition 172 revenue should offset the amount the count...

Court Makes DFG Adfd CEQA to Stream Permit Reviews

Forced by a lawsuit to incorporate the California Environmental Quality Act process into the way it issues streambed and lake alteration permits, the California Department of Fish & Game has issued new procedures that will require more property owners to do greater environmental review before they undertake such projects.

Every permit (often called a "1600" for a section of the Fish and Game Code) will be examined to see how CEQA applies, according to Jim Steele, a DFG program manage...

Governor Leaves Mark on 1999 Legislative Session : Redlands ‘Doughnut Hole’ Bill, Marks-Roos Reform Earn Vetoes

In his first year as governor, Gray Davis has gained a reputation as a chief executive quick to wield the veto pen — and the field of planning and development legislation proved to be no exception.

Even though the Legislature passed only small and incremental bills — opting against sweeping change in any area — Davis vetoed one-third of all planning and development bills that reached his desk.

"I think he actually striped the middle pretty well," said Clyde McDonald, Assembly Local Governme...