Headline Story

Peace in Burbank?

Burbank city leaders and the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority have announced a new agreement that would lead to expansion of the crowded Burbank Airport and end a four-year legal battle.

The deal allows the airport to build a terminal nearly twice the size of the current terminal but retain the same number of gates — 14. The airport would close concessions and services from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily and phase out noisier Stage 2 jets. If the airport convinces federal regulators to approve a 1...

Growth Initiatives Grow in Number; Measures Head for Ballot This November, Next Year

Stimulated by the success of Ventura County’s SOAR initiatives, citizens — and some City Councils — throughout the state are placing growth restrictions on the local ballot in increasing numbers.

Four growth-control initiatives are scheduled for the November ballot, including three sponsored by the Citizens’ Alliance for Public Planning, or CAPP, a Pleasanton-based citizen organization active in the Tri-Valley area of eastern Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Up to eight measures may appear n...

Taxes: Streetlighting District Passes Prop. 218 Test

A streetlighting assessment district created prior to Proposition 218 is exempt from the tax-limiting initiative, the Fourth District Court of Appeals has decided.

The court held that the City of Riverside’s Street Light Assessment District is exempt because it provides revenue to operate streets, which was a specific exemption in the 1996 initiative. The July ruling was a blow to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Paul Gann’s Citizens Committee, two statewide organizations that ba...

Schools Soar Above Initiative: AG Says Schools Exempt From Local Land-Use Rules

An elementary school proposed for agricultural land is not subject to a Ventura County initiative intended to preserve farmland and open space, according to an attorney general’s opinion.

A school district board of trustees, by a two-thirds vote, may exempt itself from local land use regulations, according to the opinion prepared by Deputy Attorney General Gregory Gonot. He quoted extensively from City of Santa Clara v. Santa Clara Unified School District (1971) 22 CalApp.3d 152, in which t...

Silicon Valley Housing Crunch Gains Attention; San Benito County Is Newest Bedroom For High-Tech Workers

The row crops and cattle ranches of San Benito County are remarkably similar to those of Santa Clara County during the pre-Silicon Valley era. But, just as the computer chip has transformed Santa Clara County into one of the world’s great industrial centers, it is now exerting influence on rural San Benito County, where land remains available and relatively inexpensive.

San Benito’s predicament is the result of Santa Clara County’s well-known jobs-housing imbalance. And the disparity only ge...

The Imaginary Cyclist’s Guide to the New Portola

I have found myself studying, of all things, a site plan of a bicycle path in the City of Portola. Why would a small-town bike path be interesting, particularly one that exists only on paper? Perhaps because site plans, like all maps, seem so static, while the dotted line that represents the bike trail suggests movement and freedom. It is easy to imagine ourselves as tourists on bicycles in this small mountain town in the Sierra Nevada, tooling through the historic district, and then crossing the bridge...

Adult Businesses: Court Says Anaheim Must Approve Proposed Strip Joint

The City of Anaheim’s attempts to bar a proposed adult cabaret from an industrial area were unconstitutional and the city must approve the business’s permits, the Fourth District Court of Appeals has ruled.

According to the unanimous appellate court decision, three city actions failed constitutional muster: an attempt to prevent "secondary effects" of an adult business, a retroactive amendment to the zoning ordinance, and denial of the strip club to protect the city’s image. Presiding Justice David Si...

LAFCO: 9th Circuit Overrules District’s Election Conducted in 1977

The Novato Fire Protection District detached the former Hamilton Air Force Base in 1977, but last month the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the detachment was an illegal attempt to tax the federal government. The court said the fire district is obliged to serve the former base, now occupied by the Navy, the Coast Guard, other federal agencies and even some private entities.

The unanimous three-judge appeals court upheld Northern California District Judge Fern Smith’s ruling that the detachme...

Retailers Top List of Favorite City Developments; Study Finds Far Less Interest in Affordable Housing, Industry

A new survey has documented what many planning and public policy experts have long suspected: California city managers prefer retail projects in their community over any other type of land use, and they least favor multi-family housing and heavy industrial projects.

The survey — part of a study of land use and sales tax issues by the Public Policy Institute of California — was released just as the California Legislature considers a bill that would require cities that lure large retailers ac...

EIR Delays Earn Civil Rights Suit: City Can’t Blame Applicant for Document’s Tardiness

A city has an obligation to complete an environmental impact report and may not just continually reject an EIR prepared by a developer’s consultant, the Fourth District Court of Appeals has ruled.

The court also ruled that foot-dragging on an EIR by the City of Redlands gives the developer of a proposed housing complex a right to seek damages under the federal Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

The City of Redlands three times rejected a proposed draft EIR prepared by consultants of a ho...

A Roundabout Way of Solving Congestion

It was bound to happen. The neo-traditionalist planning movement is making inroads into the most doctrinaire of planning dynasties – Caltrans. Late last year, in a little-noticed but potentially monumental policy shift, the state road bureaucracy issued Design Information Bulletin Number 80, thereby granting guarded approval of modern roundabouts as part of California’s highway design toolbox.

Now it’s up to local governments to press ahead with a back-to-the-future concept: intersections where...

TMDLs: The Revolution is at Hand

The next big thing in water quality management — measuring specific pollutants in bodies of water and setting limits for those pollutants — is likely to impact land use and planning, but the exact ramifications remain unclear.

After years of delay, federal and state agencies are developing definitions to show how much pollution can be allowed in a water body before it becomes polluted. These definitions are known as total maximum daily loads, or TMDLs.

Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Wat...

Second Diablo Grande EIR Rejected by Superior Court

Opponents of a 5,000-unit subdivision and golf resort in the western foothills of Stanislaus County continued their courtroom winning streak when Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Donald Shaver ruled a supplemental environmental impact report was inadequate.

In a July decision, Shaver said the county "failed to adequately evaluate the environmental impacts and the cumulative impacts, failed to accurately describe one portion of the project and failed to recirculate the SEIR."

In the fi...

Movies as Economic Development? Dream On

DEALS: THE UNRAVELING OF DREAMWORKS AND WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT PUBLIC-PRIVATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DEALS

Economic development and motion picture development are not alike. Economic development is a slow, often bureaucratic, process involving the collaboration of many people, including government, real estate interests, and big employers. Motion picture development, on the other hand, is dominated by a handful of powerful personalities, predominately studio heads, who can simply axe a project if they have...

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, ...