Headline Story

Insight: Does Supply Create Its Own Demand?

A couple of weeks ago, the satirical newspaper The Onion reported that the City of San Francisco was looking to relocate because its current location had become too expensive. Funny though this was, I expected the follow-up story to focus on the economic development incentive package being put together to keep San Francisco where it is. 

A week or so later, Gabriel Metcalfe – head of the respected San Francisco urban planning organization SPUR – published a provocative piece in CityLab blaming the city’s affordability crisis on progressive politics – especially progressive politics of the no-growth kind. Progressive San Francisco, he argued, “had a fatal, Shakespearean flaw that would prove to be its undoing: It decided early on to be against new buildings. It decided that new development, with the exception of publicly subsidized affordable housing, was not welcome.”

All up and down California – especially in the expensive coastal enclaves around San Francisco and Los Angeles – community activists have been lately decrying how the rising cost of housing is making it impossible for normal people with normal incomes to live in these towns. Yet, as Metcalf points out, most of the time these same community activists are arguing that the trend toward high housing cost must be countered with... less housing construction. Or at least less market-rate housing construction. 

An Underwhelming Attitude Towards Density

Consider this headline, which accompanied a recent Citylab article on a townhouse development in Echo Park: “In Los Angeles, Density That Doesn't Overwhelm.” It doesn’t take much to unpack that statement. It implies that density is inherently overwhelming.

Greatest Hits of 2014 Land Use Law, Pt. 1: CEQA

UCLA Extension convened its annual Land Use Law and Planning Conference last week in Los Angeles.

California Engages in Mature Debate Over Spending of Cap-and-Trade Funds

As the inane “debate” over climate change drags on in the more benighted corners of our republic (Washington, D.C., included), it’s becoming abundantly clear that California is no longer the place where America’s fruits, nuts, and loose ends come to rest. I’ve been on the periphery of the stateside discussion of SB 375 for the past two years, so I know that it’s not news to say that there have been many earnest, productive discussions about it across the state.

Parallel Newhall Ranch Cases: the CA Supreme Court Won't Decide Them All

In addition to the state Supreme Court dispute on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's action, three other Newhall Ranch cases continue in litigation, all brought by plaintiffs and attorneys overlapping with the group before the high court. (See http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3461 for more links on these cases.)

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California's Supreme Court About to Consider One Strand of the Newhall Ranch Tangle

The Newhall Ranch environmental review litigation, itself a mighty matter of land use legend, has an important strand of its multiply braided conflicts awaiting an oral argument date before the state Supreme Court. 

The parties' briefing is complete. The court has accepted a deep layer of amicus briefs from state-level land use players. And with the confirmation of Justice Leondra Kruger, the court has finally returned to full membership. So the court has little reason to delay setting an argument date.

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CPD&R News Briefs, January 26, 2015: Infrastructure Districts; Ontario Airport Squabble; S.D.'s $3.9 Billion Problem; and more

In the latest step towards an alternative to redevelopment in Los Angeles, city officials are considering the creation of an “infrastructure district” to fund a $1 billion revitalization plan for the Los Angeles River.

Smart Growth Advocates in Fresno Have a General Plan -- If They Can Keep It

The 2035 Fresno General Plan adopted by the City Council on December 18 puts the city's foot down on sprawl. Supporters see the approval as a major victory for Smart Growth principles, though it had critics on left and right.

A strong center/left coalition joined Mayor Ashley Swearengin in backing the plan, However, environmental justice and equity activists asked how strongly the plan would limit suburban expansion and who would benefit from infill development. They sought policies for affordable housing and against displacement, and attention to industrial polluters such as the notorious Darling International rendering plant southwest of downtown. 

Meanwhile, local developers and small-government advocates questioned whether the plan would curtail property rights or lifestyle choices, and asked if people accustomed to suburban densities and private auto use would remain in Fresno if it meant accepting denser housing, especially in the stigmatized downtown area. Tea Party-oriented opponents recoiled at federal funding for projects such as bus rapid transit (BRT).

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SGC Approves Cap-And-Trade Program On Fast Track

The Strategic Growth Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program – the program that will distribute tens of millions of dollars in cap-and-trade funds – with only one minor amendment.

The program now kicks into high gear, with six workshops in a row next week and prospective applicants required to submit “concept proposals” by February 19th.

New Rule on Wireless Towers May Frustrate Cities, Planners

Among all of California’s non-native tree species, one in particular may experience a growth spurt in the coming years. It’s not the fan palm or the eucalyptus but rather the cell-phone pine and its incongruous cousin, the cell-phone palm. A new rule, established in 2012 by the Federal Communications Commission and recently updated, might mean taller palms, bigger pines, and more prominent towers for cities that are caught flat-footed – even if they don’t the like the way the cell towers are disguised.

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Mendocino County Timber Plan Upheld by Court

The First District Court of Appeal has upheld Calfire’s Nonindustrial Timber Management Plan to permit logging of a 17-acre parcel of land in Mendocino County. The First District also rejected the Center for Biological Diversity’s claim that the California Department of Fish & Wildlife can be sued under the California Environmental Quality Act over its role in the approval of the NMTP.

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Appellate Court Upholds Emeryville's Post-Redevelopment Agreements

In an important victory for local governments, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled that the state Department of Finance improperly rejected Emeryville’s action to re-enter into several redevelopment agreements with its successor agency.

The case is perhaps the first big win in the post-redevelopment era for local governments, which have battled DOF daily since the elimination of redevelopment three years ago. 

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CP&DR News Briefs, January 19, 2015: Monterey County Settles Suit; NorCal Light Rail; Irvine (Non-)General Plan

Monterey County has settled a lawsuit over its General Plan filed by the LandWatch advocacy group. The settlement includes a commitment to addressing water supply problems and paying more than $400,000 in LandWatch’s legal bills.

CP&DR News Briefs, January 13, 2015: Natomas Development Area to Reopen; State Budget Reactions; LOCUS legislative goals, and more

Developers are awaiting a federal decision that may allow them to start building again in the Natomas region of Sutter and Sacramento Counties. The region, which sits between the Sacramento and American Rivers, was one of the most active areas of development in the Sacramento metro region in the early and mid-2000s. Based on concerns over levees whose solidity has been likened to that of toothpaste, the Federal Emergency Management Agency imposed a moratorium on the area in December 2008.

Coastal Commission: Land Use Designations Set Off False Alarm on San Diego Waterfront; Two Big Laguna Beach Rulings in a Day

The Coastal Commission approved two possible future industrial land use designations for San Diego after the Commission and city staff reassured industrial waterfront business representatives that the designations were unlikely to affect the shipyard areas around Barrio Logan.

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Proposed Final AHSC Guidelines Would Broaden Possible TOD Funding Sites

A late-added change in proposed final guidelines for California's new cap-and-trade grant program might broaden transit-oriented development sites.

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