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CP&DR News Briefs, April 13, 2015: L.A. Sustainabilty Plan; S.D. Rescinds Embattled Climate Plan; Californians Win National APA Awards; and More

Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles announced his new "Sustainable City pLAn," a far-reaching decree that seeks to make Los Angeles sustainable in ways ranging from water to solar energy to waste. Among other things, the plan seeks to reduce daily Vehicle Miles Traveled by 5 percent by 2025, to implement the Vision Zero policy to reduce traffic fatalities, to have zero days in which air pollution reaches unhealthy levels by 2025, and to complete 32 miles of Los Angeles River public access by 2025. The plan defines sustainability broadly, to include not only ecological goals but also broad goals of social and economic sustainability.

The plan seeks to reduce driving and pollution, increase walkability within neighborhoods (using WalkScore), improve pedestrian safety, promote development of affordable housing and transit-oriented development, support the re:codeLA initiative to update the city’s zoning code, revitalize the L.A. River, and support environmental justice, among other goals. Garcetti also signed a mayoral directive that requires all city departments to incorporate pLAn goals into their programs, and establishes sustainability officers in applicable departments and bureaus. At a signing event, he pledged that this "is not a plan for the shelves."

Envirnomental Impact Report required for Mitigation Bank

The Metropolitan Water District must complete an environmental impact report before creating a mitigation bank that MWD and private developers would use to offset building on habitat for endangered species, the Fourth District Court of Appeals has ruled.

The ruling reverses a trial court judge’s decision that allowed plans for the multiple species reserve in western Riverside County to go forward with only a mitigated negative declaration. The appellate court backed San Bernardino Valley Audubon Socie...

Approval Process: Landowner Loses Subdivision for a Second Time

Completing the subdivision application process twice, and having the project rejected both times, does not qualify as an exhaustion of the administrative process, The First District Court of Appeal as ruled.

In a case from the Town of Ross, a unanimous three-judge panel said a landowner’s taking claim was not ripe because the landowner had not used up all administrative remedies. The court also said the "futility exception" was not available because the landowner had filed only two applications, both ...

Trustee Agencies Must Get Negative Declaration Notice

Failure of a county to send a copy of a mitigated negative declaration to the state Department of Fish & Game is a big enough oversight to require setting aside the mitigated negative declaration and a subsequent rezoning, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled.

In interpreting Public Resources Code §21005, the unanimous three-judge panel ruled that the lack of notice given to a trustee agency "deprived the county of information necessary to informed decision making and informed public participa.

Court Defines Environmental ‘Baseline’: Conditions Allowed By CUP Serve As Starting Point

A county considering the environmental impact of a proposal to expand a mine may use full-capacity operation of the existing facility as the environmental "baseline" even if the facility is operating at less than full capacity, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled.

SF Lawyer Named Director of OPR

Loretta Lynch, a San Francisco lawyer with solid Democratic credentials, is the new Office of Planning and Research director.

Gov. Gray Davis in mid-March named Lynch to the top job at OPR, which provides technical assistance to local planners and runs the State Clearinghouse for project review. The 37-year-old Lynch has been a partner in Keker & Van Nest since 1991, where she represented small and large companies in securities trading matters.

Lynch is a graduate of University of Southern California ...

Rent Control: Court Upholds City Board’s Denial of Requested Increase

Carson’s mobile home rent control board acted properly in granting a mobile home park owner a rent increase of only $58 per month rather than the $160-170 that the park owner requested, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled. The court also ruled that the city’s formula for granting rent increases is constitutional even though it is vague.

The city board reduced the rent increase by determining that the mobile home park should amortize the cost of remediating contaminated wetlands over...

LAFCO: AG’s Opinion Addresses Alternate Member’s Role

Alternate members of a Local Agency Formation Commission, when not serving in the place of regular members, may participate in public hearings and deliberations, but they may not attend closed sessions, according to a state Attorney General’s opinion.

The opinion should lead to a standardization of practices for the 57 LAFCOs in California, said Mike Gotch, executive director of the California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions.

In fact, Gotch was the one who raised the issue of parti...

Amphitheatre and Speedway Find a Home in Yuba County

Auto racetracks and rock concert venues are often seen as noisy land uses with the potential to generate monster traffic jams. Rare is the homeowner who wants a speedway or concert amphitheater in his back yard.

Thus, the lack of opposition to plans to build a speedway and amphitheater in southern Yuba County is extraordinary — but no more extraordinary than the fact that this $90 million development is pegged for one of California’s poorest counties.

Preliminary grading and road work has commenced ...

L.A. may have multiple planning commissions

L.A. may have multiple planning commissions

An overhaul of the Los Angeles City Charter, which will go before voters June 13, calls for creation of at least five area planning commissions. But those area commissions would have limited powers, and the citywide Planning Commission would remain in place, under the proposal.

"The citywide Planning Commission is seen as a body that’s not very closely related to the people," Jackie DuPont-Walker, chairwoman of the Elected Charter Reform Commission said. ...

Cities Struggle To Regulate Adult Business

They raise the ire of homeowners and merchants, councilmembers and supervisors, police chiefs and chamber of commerce leaders. They are seen as blights on a town, attractions for the wrong element. They should be run out of town, is the common sentiment.

Stable Funding Sources Elude Several State Land Conservancies

Money problems for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy earlier this year have highlighted a need among most of the state's six land conservancies to find a long-term funding source to carry out their mission of acquiring, restoring and preserving open space.

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, which acquires land throughout Los Angeles County and in southeastern Ventura County, announced it had run out of money to even pay administrative costs as of June 30. A state Assembly budget subcommitte...

Construction Pace Quickens

It is said that a rising tide lifts all ships. It would stand to reason, then, that California's resurgent economy is uniformly raising construction activity. But tides are, after all, fluid. Swells and surges may drop a boat here or there, depending on the harbor.

And so it is with California’s building. Some of the trends that we began to notice last year are holding strong, while others have reversed — suggesting that the current boom manifests in ways that are particular to Califor...

There’s Nobility in Simplicity

We have grown suspicious of simplicity. We late 20th Century folk have come to equate complexity with competence. We tend to give the benefit of the doubt to things that have been over-intellectualized, over-wrought and over-papered.

We want massive documents with hundreds of appendices that only consultants can read and interpret for us. The trend has given rise to a kind of info-snobbery: If a non-expert offers us an opinion, we tend to give it less weight than if a specialist weighs in on th...

Rapidly Growing Contra Costa Considers Tighter Urban Limit Line; New Regional Planning Efforts Stretch From Bay Area to Valley

In the latest chapter in a long-running story, Contra Costa County and many of its cities appear to be ready to tighten up the county’s urban limit line. The county is examining the creation of tighter boundaries in the controversial Tassajara Valley area and in fast-growing eastern Contra Costa County. Meanwhile, the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission recently adopted a written policy committing itself to honoring the county’s urban limit line wherever possible.

Urban limit line tightening co...

San Diego Waterfront Continues Transformation

The San Diego waterfront, already the scene of a growing San Diego Convention Center, is on the verge of adding 750 hotel rooms, a massive retail village and an expanded public park.

The project is the first phase of the Port of San Diego’s South Embarcadero Redevelopment Project. Two to three year’s worth of construction is likely to begin this spring, according to Ralph Hicks, the port’s director of land use and planning.

The project involves three separate undertakings: adding a 750-room tower to ...

Design Review: City May Block Home Addition For Solely Aesthetic Reasons

The Del Mar City Council had enough evidence to deny a permit for a two-story home addition based on aesthetic grounds only, the Sixth District Court of Appeal has ruled. In so doing, the court reversed San Diego County Superior Court Judge Lisa Guy-Schall's decision to grant the homeowner a writ of mandate requiring the city to issue the permit.

In overturning the trial judge, the appellate court found that Del Mar had not violated the landowner’s civil rights under federal law. Significantl...