Reatiling and the Web

One of the more interesting outcomes of the explosion of the Internet on our culture is the wave of anxiety it has produced at City Halls and in Sacramento. And it's not because the powerful new interactive media isn't already being used in hundreds of ways by state and local government to connect and its constituents - or otherwise benefiting our technology-strong economy. It is because the Web's success threatens to siphon off the lifeblood of the public agency revenue stream: sales tax.

The threat...

SFO Offers 15:1 Wetlands Swap for New Runway

San Francisco Airport officials have proposed an airport runway expansion that has a novel tradeoff for environmentalists. In exchange for filling up to 1,400 acres of San Francisco Bay for new runways, the airport proposes to restore 29,000 acres of bay wetlands that are located east and south of the airport.

The proposal, which is to be formally presented at the end of January, is already proving controversial in the environmental community, and is strongly opposed by Cargill Salt, whose land could...

Anaheim Still Moving Forward with Sportstown

Despite a developers' decision to drop out of a 40-acre sports-themed project in Anaheim, city officials are keeping the project on track.

Known as Sportstown, the entertainment project is taking shape in the parking lot of the Big A, home of the Anaheim Angels baseball team, and close to the Arrowhead Pond, home to the major league hockey team, the Mighty Ducks.

In November, Cleveland-based developer Forest City Enterprises Inc. dropped plans to develop Sportstown, which is to include sports-theme...

Landowner Loses Again: No Taking in Coastal Dispute, Apppellate Court Rules

The Second District Court of Appeal has reaffirmed its decision to overturn a $2 million takings judgment against the Coastal Commission - even after reconsidering the case in light of a California Supreme Court ruling in another coastal case.

However, the property owners' lawyers appear determined to fight on to the California Supreme Court on the very issue that caused the remand in the first place. Lawyer Thomas Banks said his client, Peggy Ann Buckley, plans to appeal the case to the Calif...

Catellus, Conservancy Make Big Deal Over Desert Land

A major land deal to preserve thousands of acres of Southern California desert land is in the works between a land conservation organization and the Catellus Corporation. Acquisition of the land is considered as significant for Southern California as the Headwaters Forest acquisition has been in Northern California.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein threw her support behind the proposal in mid-December. Feinstein, a longtime supporter of efforts to create two national parks and a national prese...

Santa Cruz Pushes Lumber Rules

Santa Cruz Lumber Rules

Santa Cruz County supervisors are clamping down hard on the logging industry, and have approved "in concept" new ordinances that limit logging near residences, helicopter harvesting, and logging near riparian corridors.

The ordinances are expected to be presented to the state Board of Forestry next year as proposed rules that would impact only Santa Cruz County. The county is one of a handful of California coastal counties that have special authority to propose rules to the ni...

No EIR Needed on Plan for Landfill, Court Rules

San Diego County's integrated waste management plan did not require preparation of an environmental impact report even though the plan called for the creation of new landfills and identified 10 possible sites for those landfills, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled.

"There is no substantial evidence in the administrative record to support a fair argument that the county's adoption of the summary plan and siting element may have a significant environmental impact, and thus the county did not ...

Supreme Court Takes Landslide Case

The California Supreme Court has agreed to review an appellate court decision that ruled the City of Los Angeles should not be held liable for landslide-related damage to a property in the Pacific Palisades even though it violated municipal code requirements.

In Haggis v. City of Los Angeles, Supreme Court Docket No. S074364, property owner Paul Haggis argued that his house was damaged by a landslide triggered in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and later condemned and demolished by the city.

After t...

AG: No Conflict in Infrastructure Deal

Requiring a landowner to provide an excess amount of infrastructure capacity - and reimbursing that landowner later with other county funds - does not fall under the state's conflict of interest laws if a county supervisor is one of the landowners, according to a new opinion from the state attorney general's office.

According to the attorney general, such a requirement - permitted under the state's Subdivision Map Act - is not a contract between the developer and the landowners and therefore does not ...

City Not Required to Condemn Lease

The City of South San Francisco isn't required to compensate a property owner for the city's own leasehold interest in the property - as well as the value of the property itself - in an eminent domain action, the First District Court of Appeal has ruled.

The case involves South San Francisco's decision to take the property of the Mayer family by eminent domain - property that the city had already leased from the Mayers for use as a city conference center.

The Mayers leased the property to the city ...

Santa Clara Moves Forward with Controversial Sun Project

A state hospital once used as an insane asylum has triggered one of the most contentious development battles in Silicon Valley, with officials on both sides of the deal calling each other crazy - and more.

"It was a sweetheart deal and there was a lot of yelling over it," said Eddie Souza, former Santa Clara mayor.

Sun Microsystems is building new corporate headquarters on 82.5 acres it bought from the state for $52 million. The high-tech company's digs will rise on a portion of the former Agnew Dev...

L.A. County OKs Newhall Ranch Development Project; But Approval Raises Familiar Water Supply Issues

By importing water from at least three sources, the largest housing subdivision ever processed by Los Angeles County could actually enhance the health of the wild river that splits the project site, according to proponents. Opponents of Newhall Ranch, however, see the proposed 12,000-acre development as a threat to the Santa Clara River, the region's last undammed river, and to Ventura County farmers and urban water customers.

No matter who is right, Newhall Ranch is being closely watched statewide by...

The Suburban Novelty Made Urbane

The proposed expansion of Farmers Market in Los Angeles raises an important question: Can "theme-park" architecture co-exist with "real" urbanism?

By now, everyone is familiar with the coming urban apocalypse known as "Disney-fication" or "the theming of America." Outside of Las Vegas and Hollywood Boulevard, this phenomenon has largely been limited to suburban "entertainment centers," which are usually anchored by multiplex theaters and sell fast food and other "impulse" items amid an atmosphere of...

NEPA: EIS Required for Logging on U.S. Land After Fire

The U.S. Forest Service should have prepared an environmental impact statement before awarding a series of contracts for timber salvage sales in the Umatilla National Forest in eastern Oregon, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

The Ninth Circuit's ruling - the latest in a long series of decisions on Forest Service operations in the Northwest - reversed the ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken, who had granted summary judgment to the Forest Service against the claims brought by...

Zoning Ordinances Come Under Renewed Scrutiny; Cities, Counties Ponder Radical Shift or Simple ‘Tweak’

As California’s post-recession economy picks up steam, many city and county planning departments are revisiting an important policy document that serves as one of the pillars of the community’s planning.

Contrary to expectation, however, this policy document is not the general plan. It’s the zoning ordinance — a document that serves as the workhorse of day-to-day land-use planning but can easily be rendered obsolete or irrelevant by a rapidly changing economy or a highly political planning environmen...