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San Diego Considers Dueling Plans to Finance Stadium, Convention Center

What do touchdowns, trade shows, room service, rivers, and dorm rooms have in common? In San Diego, quite a bit.

Spooked by the possible relocation of the San Diego Chargers football team, the city is doubling down on opportunities not only to retain the Chargers but also to pursue a host of other initiatives related to tourism and economic development. The matters may be resolved through one of two competing measures that are expected to appear on upcoming ballots.

"The Citizens Plan" could appear on the citywide ballot as early as November. Proposed by Cory Briggs, an environmental attorney famous instead for halting city projects, it would raise hotel taxes and allow the city to expand its convention center, build a new Chargers stadium, secure long-term funding to promote the city to tourists, create a new San Diego River park and hand San Diego State University an expansion opportunity. It would make way for a joint-use convention center-stadium built on 10 downtown acres, next to the Padres ballpark and across the street from the city’s existing convention center.

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Hyperloop and Hyperbole

On December 21, the Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, deployed a suite of communications satellites, and, in impressive fashion, came back down to Earth. Using its engines to dull the force of gravity, it survived re-entry and hit its football-field sized landing pad like a Tesla backing into a garage.  

The Falcon 9’s return from the heavens was an early Christmas miracle, courtesy of Elon Musk, one of the world's few celebrity engineers. It is a product of SpaceX, Musk’s pioneering private space-travel company based in Hawthorne. He can now add space to the list of fields — from electric cars, to battery power, to credit card payments — that his ventures have conquered. (A similar launch Jan. 17 didn't go quite so well.)

Next, Musk hopes to revolutionize long-distance transit. That one may make rocket science look like child’s play.

No Triable Issue of Fact in AirBNB-Related Eviction Case

A Venice tenant who was renting her attic or loft out through AirBNB does not have a “triable issue of fact” on an eviction case brought against her by her landlord, the appellate division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court has ruled.

The case highlights one of a myriad of legal issues created by the such online services as AirBNB, which facilitates occupants of regular housing to rent out their bedrooms as if they were hotels, often in violation of zoning ordinances and homeowner association rules.

The case involved Joella Kraft, who lived in a rent-controlled unit in the Venice neighborhood in Los Angeles pursuant to a written agreement with the property’s then-landlord dating back to 1997, which also permitted her two then-young sons to live there on a part-time basis.

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CP&DR’s Top Ten Land Use Stories of 2015

With the economy humming along, innovative ideas sprouting up around the state, and, of course, the occasional dispute, 2015 was as lively a year for land use as any other in recent memory. To mark the new year, CP&DR presents its most-read stories of 2015. 

Sponsored Announcement: International Change Makers of the Built Environment Come Together in L.A. for FutureBuild

ULI Los Angeles, in partnership with VerdeXchange, announces FutureBuild 2016. This assembly of the land-use thinkers and innovators in business and government, local and worldwide, will be Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 7:30 am to 1:30 pm, at L.A. Downtown Hotel, 333 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071.

CP&DR News Briefs, January 12, 2016: Legislators Issue Homeless Proposal; Warriors' Arena Draws Suits; Sacramento Considers Greenway; and More

To address the state’s intensifying homelessness crisis, state senators proposed a $2 billion bill to help provide up to 14,000 units of permanent housing for the state’s mentally ill homeless population. California has roughly 116,000 homeless people. The monies, to be raised as bonds, would be repaid over 20 to 30 years with money from the tax for mental health services approved in 2004 (Proposition 63).

Using Tuolumne Tactic, Moreno Valley Approves Development of 40 Million Square Feet

For years, National Football League teams have been trying to find places to play in the Los Angeles area. Soon enough, 700 of them could move to Moreno Valley, with room to spare.  

In what may be the largest single commercial development in the history of California — or possibly the universe — the World Logistics Center will, as currently envisioned, cover 40 million square feet, most of which will be dedicated to storage, transshipment, and other functions related to the logistics industry. It will be more than twice as large as New York City’s much-heralded Hudson Yards project.  

WLC was approved last summer on a 3-2 vote of the Moreno Valley City Council. Following the filing of as many as nine California Environmental Quality lawsuits against the project, that vote was reaffirmed in November as the council voted to adopt a ballot initiative to approve the project – using the so-called “Tuolumne Tactic” after developer Highland Fairview qualified a measure for the ballot. It is believed to be the first time the tactic has been used after a project had been approved by local elected officials and CEQA lawsuits had been filed. 

CDFA Erred in EIR Alternatives Analysis on Pest Control Action, Court Rules

The California Department of Food & Agriculture erred in preparing an environmental impact report for a program intended to eradicate with an invasive pest without examining the long-term consequences of an alternative program to control the pest rather than eradicate it, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled.

As it happens, CDFA actually switched the program at the last minute from eradication to control, but the Third District said the defeat in the EIR would have been a legal problem under any circumstances. Relying on Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority (2013) 57 Cal.4th 439, the Third District said CDFA’s action was “prejudicial,” requiring the appellate court to reverse two trial court rulings related to the case.

The case involves CDFA’s efforts to eradicate the light brown apple moth, or LBAM, an invasive “leaf-roller” moth that was first seen in California in 2007. Because LBAM represented a threat to all California ornamental plants as well as fruits and vegetables, and its invasion of California was moving fast, the legislature quickly authorized CDFA to undertake a temporary LBAM program with the goal of eradicating the pest. 

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Can Bertoni Help Garcetti Run L.A. City Hall's Planning Gauntlet?

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Monday that he has selected Vince Bertoni as the city’s new planning director, replacing Michael Lo Grande. Bertoni is currently planning director of Pasadena and a former deputy director in Los Angeles. Bertoni must be confirmed by the L.A. City Council.

Lo Grande’s departure had been rumored for some time. He was selected as planning director by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in 2010 following the departure of Gail Goldberg. In contrast to Goldberg – a visionary long-range planner – Lo Grande was a nuts-and-bolts guy who had previously served as the city’s zoning administrator. 

Bertoni’s selection suggests that Garcetti wants to return to a more visionary approach. He has held top planning posts in such cities as Malibu, Beverly Hills, and Santa Clarita – and recently worked Pasadena through a general plan revision that included an innovative approach to traffic metrics similar to the switch called for in SB 743. He could play a key role in implementing Garcetti’s new transportation plan, Mobility 2035, which contains similar ideas

CP&DR News Briefs, January 4, 2016: SALC Expanded To $40 Million; DMV Considers Autonomous Vehicles; Oakland, SD Reiterate Stadium Offers; and More

With a significant increase in cap-and-trade funding for 2016, the Strategic Growth Council announced the expansion of the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation program (SALC). SALC provides funds that compensate farmers and ranchers for creating conservation easements.

Court Says Anaheim Played Bait-and-Switch on Hotel Developer

The Fourth District Court of Appeal has blocked the City of Anaheim’s attempt to build a surface parking lot on a property adjacent to two new hotels rather than a parking structure, as was implied in a conditional use permit the city approved in 1999.

Technically, the appellate court affirmed a trial judge’s ruling that the city was estopped (a legal term essentially meaning prohibited) from enacting a subsequent conditional use permit – applying to the city’s own property, not the hotel developer’s property – that called for a surface lot rather than a parking garage and deviating from the city’s own Resort Development Standards, which the hotel developer’s own project had to meet.

The case involves a complicated arrangement in which Intercontinental Hotel Group had agreed to a smaller, redesigned project because of the city’s plans to build an overpass over I-15 along Gene Autry Way that better connects Disneyland with Anaheim Stadium and other destinations east of the freeway. The overpass, which opened in 2012, takes up part of the hotel developer’s property and also part of an adjacent property. 

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A 'Dislike' for Facebook's Housing Bonus

Boundless as cyberspace may be, the companies that rule the internet still have to take up real estate. And their employees still have to put their heads down somewhere at night. For whatever reason, the mysterious forces of the "innovation economy" have lured an outside share of those companies, and their employees, to Silicon Valley. 

With all those likes, stock options, and organic cafeteria items comes, of course, a housing crisis. As absolutely no one is unaware, rents in Silicon Valley have gone up like Pets.com stock over the past few years. 

Last week Facebook announced that it was going to make an investment in the crisis. Not an investment in housing, mind you. Just an investment in the crisis.

Insight: How Will California's Cities Use Two New Redevelopment Options?

Ever since Gov. Jerry Brown killed redevelopment in 2011, the conventional wisdom has been that eventually he would give it a second life – but only after he was sure the old system was completely dead, in a way that protects the state general fund, and probably after he himself won re-election to a final term.

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Will CBIA v BAAQMD Make Infill Projects Easier To Build in California?

Last week’s unanimous, finely worded ruling by the California Supreme Court has spared builders their worst-case scenario in the long-awaited "CEQA in Reverse" case. It does not interpret the California Environmental Quality Act to require an environmental impact report whenever a project might attract more people within range of an existing hazard such as air pollution or earthquake risk. 

Attorneys for the plaintiff/respondent California Building Industry Association (CBIA) cheered the decision as especially likely to spare infill and affordable housing projects that might otherwise face CEQA challenges because of air pollution impacts on residents and others. 

But the ruling does still apply CEQA broadly enough to leave both sides claiming partial success in overall impact and in the underlying air quality guidelines matter. Each already disputes the other's claim. 

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CP&DR News Briefs, December 21, 2015: S.D. Climate Plan; Sale of ONT Airport; Coastal Comm. Sides with The Edge; & More

The San Diego City Council unanimously approved a new Climate Action Plan, one of the nation’s most ambitious plans to cut carbon emissions by creating legally binding mandates for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

CEQA Does Not Apply In Reverse

The California Environmental Quality Act does not apply in reverse, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Overturning the First District Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that, with a few exceptions, CEQA analysis must be limited to the project's impacts on the environment (and, by extension, the project's environmental impacts on its own population) but not the environment's impact on the project.

Among other things, the ruling would seem to suggest that a CEQA analysis cannot analyze and mitigate the effect of future sea level rise or other climate change effects on a proposed project. 

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