Headline Story

SGC Confirms Recipients of $122 Million in Grants

Following the recommendations of its staff, the Strategic Growth Council formally approved $122 million in grants for 28 projects designed to provide affordable housing and reduce carbon emissions throughout the state.

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...

Landmark Preservation Backers Gain Cal Supremes Review

The California Supreme Court will decide the constitutionality of a 1994 law that allows religious organizations to exempt themselves from local historic preservation laws.

The court agreed to take the case of East Bay Local Development Corp. v. State of California, 69 Cal.App.4th 1033 (1999), in which the Third District Court of Appeal ruled that the exemption for religious groups did not violate the federal and state constitutional ban on establishing religion. Historic preservation advoc...

State Tries to Halt Local Bond Sale

Treasurer Phil Angelides and Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed papers in San Bernardino County Superior Court to halt a planned $15 million bond sale by two Central Valley cities. The bonds would finance a housing development 300 miles away in San Bernardino County.

Angelides and Lockyer filed an answer to a validation action submitted by the Rancho Lucerne Valley Public Financing Authority. The Superior Court will now conduct a trail to determine if the bond sale can go forward.

Waterford, a 6,60...

State Oficials Focus on Local Finance; But ‘Fix’ May be Complicated

The complex financial relationships among taxpayers, local governments and the state is receiving more study than at any time since the 1978 passage of Proposition 13. But "fixing" local government finance is turning out to be exceedingly complex and may require the approval of voters.

Lawmakers threw a couple hundred million dollars worth of bones to local government with the $81 billion 1999-2000 state budget. But many people have their eyes focused on a state constitutional amendment that co...

Did L.A. Overbid at Job Auction?

The gavel came down last year on the greatest job auction of all time: The State of Kentucky agreed to give Willamette Industries up to $8.8 million in tax credits for each new job the company would provide in the City of Hawesville. As it turned out Willamette created 105 jobs instead of the required 15, so the subsidy was only $1.26 million per job.

In that light, the $35 million subsidy approved last month by the Los Angeles City Council to the developer of the Playa Vista development seems l...

Rare Habitat, Sprawl-Threat Pose Challenges to UC Merced

Vice President Al Gore has promised to speed environmental review of the proposed University of California campus near Merced. Ironically, the likely "Smart Growth" candidate for president in 2000 has sided with a project proposed on rangeland outside Merced’s earlier-adopted urban growth boundaries which contains habitat for endangered species. The campus and "university community" would rise on the western edge of a large vernal pool grassland, which is home to fairy shrimp — a federally listed enda...

Burbank Airport Expansion Remains In Holding Pattern

The City of Burbank, which has vigorously fought a proposed Burbank Airport expansion, won a major victory when the Second District Court of Appeal ruled the Airport Authority must receive approval from the city before proceeding with a new terminal.

In a ruling delivered May 5 and ordered published on May 20, a unanimous three-judge panel said the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority must submit its land use plans for city approval, and must get the city’s approval to condemn land for the proj...

Despite SB 50, Concerns Linger Over School Impact Fees; Some Cities Continue Charging More Than State-Allowed Maximum

The long-running feud over school impact fees was supposedly settled with passage of last year’s SB 50 and subsequent approval by voters of Proposition 1A, a $9.2 billion school construction and rehabilitation bond. Some city and school officials, however, continue to argue that schools need more money from developers than allowed by SB 50, and a few cities appear openly defiant of the law.

In Livermore, for example, homebuilders still pay more than double the SB 50 cap of $1.93 per square foot as par...