Headline Story

Insight: Does Supply Create Its Own Demand?

A couple of weeks ago, the satirical newspaper The Onion reported that the City of San Francisco was looking to relocate because its current location had become too expensive. Funny though this was, I expected the follow-up story to focus on the economic development incentive package being put together to keep San Francisco where it is. 

A week or so later, Gabriel Metcalfe – head of the respected San Francisco urban planning organization SPUR – published a provocative piece in CityLab blaming the city’s affordability crisis on progressive politics – especially progressive politics of the no-growth kind. Progressive San Francisco, he argued, “had a fatal, Shakespearean flaw that would prove to be its undoing: It decided early on to be against new buildings. It decided that new development, with the exception of publicly subsidized affordable housing, was not welcome.”

All up and down California – especially in the expensive coastal enclaves around San Francisco and Los Angeles – community activists have been lately decrying how the rising cost of housing is making it impossible for normal people with normal incomes to live in these towns. Yet, as Metcalf points out, most of the time these same community activists are arguing that the trend toward high housing cost must be countered with... less housing construction. Or at least less market-rate housing construction. 

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Coastal Act: Lot Line Adjustment Qualifies as Coastal Act Development

A proposed lot line adjustment constitutes a development under the Coastal Act of 1976, even though the proposal would not result in more parcels, the Second District Court of Appeals has ruled. The decision means the Coastal Commission has jurisdiction over the proposed lot line adjustment.

The unanimous three-judge appellate panel upheld the decision of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Yaffe, who compared a lot line adjustment to a lot split. "In either case, the reconfigurat...

Met Reorganizes, Slashes Expenses

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has embarked on a major reorganization and a series of cost-cutting measures, partly in response to cost overruns for the construction of Eastside Reservoir in Riverside County.

In July, MWD’s new general manager, Ronald Gastelum, unveiled the first phase of a series of organizational reforms, calling for $10 million in immediate cost savings and perhaps as much as $100 million in cost savings in the coming years.

Like the Calfed negotiations, ...

Judge Stalls SD Stadium Pending EIR Completion

Efforts to build a new ballpark for the San Diego Padres hit a snag when historic preservation advocates won a round in San Diego County Superior Court, potentially jeopardizing the project’s targeted completion date of February 2002.

Superior Court Judge Judith McConnell ordered the City of San Diego and its downtown redevelopment agency to halt eminent domain proceedings, land assembly and the awarding of a $50 million contract for infrastructure improvements until an environmental impact ...

Coastal Commission Alters UCSB Housing Plan

University of California, Santa Barbara, officials proposed building 200 dorm rooms a little too close to wetlands, the California Coastal Commission had decided. The commission approved the student housing but ordered the university to keep the planned construction at least 100 feet from a slough, coastal pools and other wetlands.

The decision requires a major redesign of the San Rafael housing addition and will delay the project by a year, according to Tye Simpson, UCSB director of physical and env...

Adult Businesses: Court Extends ‘Baby Tam’ Tp Permit Suspension Process

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the City of San Diego’s method for suspending and revoking nude dancing licenses is unconstitutional because it allows an adult business to be closed down while the business appeals the city’s action.

The Ninth Circuit said adult businesses have the right to prompt judicial review of suspensions and revocations. The court also ruled businesses that engage in protected speech, such as nude dancing clubs, must be allowed to stay open until a ju...

Calfed Preferred Alternative Named; But Massive Report Postpones Peripheral Canal, Storage Issues

State and federal officials early this summer released a “draft preferred alternative” for the Calfed Bay-Delta Program, which officials inside the process contend will overhaul the plumbing system on which most California residents, farms and businesses rely.

Many observers outside the program, however, struggle to determine how significantly Calfed will alter water and land use policies. Although the full plan weighs in at 40 pounds, it is light on some crucial details that might have major implicat...

San Bernadino County Extends Its Influence Near Cities

San Bernardino County has adopted a policy that calls for the county to assume more control over land use in unincorporated areas within incorporated cities’ spheres of influence. The policy concerns leaders of many cities in San Bernardino County who fear the county may compete with cities for desirable development and approve substandard projects that cities eventually must serve.

The policy, which the Board of Supervisors adopted as a general plan amendment in June, is the latest in a se...

Schools Use SB 50 To Hike Impact Fees

A 1998 law that builders hoped would keep a lid on school impact fees is instead becoming a tool for some districts to charge far higher fees than builders envisioned.

The 1998 measure, known as SB 50, capped school fees at $1.93 per square foot. The Legislature passed SB 50 as part of a deal in which developers then agreed to support a $9.2 billion school facility bond on the November 1998 state ballot. Voters subsequently approved Proposition 1A. (See CP&DR June 1999.)

However, SB 50 al...

Voters Approve New L.A. Charter; Bay Area Projects, Ventura Redevlopment Defeated

Community empowerment appears to have been the overriding theme during June’s local elections. Los Angeles voters approved a new city charter that calls for area planning commissions, Pleasanton and Scotts Valley voters rejected separate city council-approved subdivisions, and Ventura voters defeated a redevelopment area backed by the City Council. Meanwhile, school bond proposals had mixed results, with bonds in Northern California generally doing better than those in Southern California.

Passage of ...

Housing Plasn Suits Retired Factory to A (Model) T


Thirty years after the start of the historic preservation movement, a debate has arisen in the preservation community on how best to save old buildings. Two camps have emerged: let’s call them the Authenticizers and the Pragmatists.

The Authenticizers are purists in preservation matters, and believe that buildings should be maintained, or returned, as closely as possible to their original condition and use. The Pragmatists, for their part, see ...

Envirnomentalists, Lockyer Say Valley Dairies Deserve Subsidy

Dairy expansions in the southern San Joaquin Valley have slowed after Attorney General Bill Lockyer submitted legal challenges and an environmental group filed lawsuits. Lockyer and environmentalists have forced local planning departments to examine their practices in approving dairies, and to begin preparing environmental impact reports.

"The issue seems to be focussing on cumulative impact," said Leonard

Garoupa, Madera County’s planning director.

Prior to Lockyer’s involvement and lawsuits fi...

Analysis: Del Monte Dunes Decision Isn’t Total Property-Rights Victory

Although they appeared to lose on the most basic issue, municipal and environmental lawyers are claiming victory in the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Del Monte Dunes case. They claim that government agencies dodged a bullet when the Supreme Court refused to extend the so-called Nollan/Dolan test to takings cases.

In Del Monte Dunes v. City of Monterey, 99 C.D.O.S. 3846, the Supreme Court granted property owners the right to a jury trial in some regulatory takings cases if they are broug...

Old Steel Mill to Become Warehousing, Retail Center

An industrial business park, a commercial truck center and what may be the largest truck stop in the United States will create an estimated 5,200 jobs on a portion of the former Kaiser steel mill in unincorporated San Bernardino County, according to project backers.

County supervisors unanimously approved a specific plan for a 320-acre industrial and commercial complex, and granted a conditional use permit for a 75-acre truck stop between the cities of Fontana and Ontario. Kaiser Ventures, owned mostl...

General Plans: City Must Process Application During General Plan Update

A city may not use an interim ordinance to suspend the processing of development applications during a general plan update, the Fourth District Court of Appeals has ruled.

The appellate panel threw out a City of San Juan Capistrano interim ordinance that stopped the processing of applications for certain large parcels. The ordinance, first adopted in June 1998, stalled Concorde Development’s application for the 356-unit Whispering Hills subdivision and golf course on the eastern edge of the south coas...

Disabilities Act Applies to Zoning: Court Bolsters Group Homes, Treatment Centers

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act applies to local zoning ordinances, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled.

The decision stemmed from a City of Antioch urgency ordinance that prevented a methadone treatment clinic from opening on an appropriately zoned site. The unanimous three-judge appellate panel reversed a ruling by District Court Judge Susan Illston, who agreed ADA applies to local zoning but refused to issue a preliminary injunction against the city.


Exactions: Connection, Capacity Charges Not Subject to AB 1600

Sewer connection fees and capacity charges are not the same as development fees imposed as a condition of project approval, meaning they are not subject to the conditions of the Mitigation Fee Act, The Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled. The court decided that a hotel builder was not entitled to a refund of unspent sewer connection fees, as the developer might be to unspent development fees.

The unanimous three-judge panel ruled that the Government Code (§ 66013) specifically excludes sewer con...