Fourth District rules special 'electorate' not OK for San Diego's special hotel tax

California's Fourth Appellate District on Friday struck down a special hotel tax that San Diego hotel operators had willingly imposed on themselves, as members of an unusually defined special district, to raise money for the city's convention center expansion. The court ruled that the tax required a two-thirds citywide popular vote for approval.

Under Proposition 13 as broadened in 1996 by Proposition 218, special taxes must be approved by a two-thirds vote of "the qualified electors" of the affected district, also expressed as "the electorate" of the district.

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Insight: What comes next after LOS?

The Governor’s Office of Planning & Research is a month late in issuing its final recommendation on whether to replace “level of service” as the measurement of significant transportation impacts in transit priority areas under the California Environmental Quality Act. But there’s not much mystery: OPR has sent clear signals that it is going to propose replacing LOS with vehicle miles traveled, or VMT.

Courts and OPR may revise CEQA sooner than the Legislature

CEQA's future has been in holding patterns across all California's branches of government this summer. But while big things are expected any day in the administrative or judicial branch, CEQA is a sore and sour subject in the Legislature.

Third District upholds high-speed rail EIR over Peninsula towns' objections

In the latest decision on a long series of legal challenges by Peninsula cities and environment groups to the California High Speed Rail project, the Third District Court of Appeal has upheld the final programmatic environmental impact report for the portion of the project that calls for a route from the Central Valley over the Pacheco Pass into Bay Area suburbia.

Westlands Water District contracts found exempt from CEQA

California's Fifth Appellate District on July 3 upheld the Westlands Water District's 2012 interim renewal contracts for Central Valley Project water from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, finding the changes they represented were exempt from CEQA review sought by environmental groups.

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Treasure Island EIR upheld

The First District Court of Appeal has upheld the EIR supporting a $1.5 billion development plan for Treasure Island, the man-made former World's Fair site at the middle of the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

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Court allows Kern wind farm mitigation that depended on FAA action

California's Fifth District Court of Appeal has issued a partial publication order for its June 30 decision upholding the EIR for a wind turbine farm in Kern County's Tehachapi Wind Resource Area.

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Can planners find common ground with Tea Party and property rights activists on means even if they don’t agree on ends?

This fall, California’s Strategic Growth Council will release a preliminary assessment about SB 375’s implementation to date. So now is a good time to step back and deeply reflect on how we are running public participation processes in this state, especially legislatively mandated ones. We need to consider how legislative requirements like those for the SB 375 regional planning process may help or hinder meaningful public engagement.

Sierra Club contests Marin Local Coastal Program revisions; EAC doesn't

The Sierra Club's Marin Group of chapters brought a court challenge July 10 seeking to reverse the Coastal Commission's May approval of the Marin County Land Use Plan Update.

CP&DR News Summary, July 22, 2014: Walnut Creek starts on BART-focused specific plan; Fairfax and Mountain View activists have surprisingly different takes on housing;

Walnut Creek officially began preparation last month of a West Downtown Specific Plan focused on links between the city's BART station and downtown, with related attention to nearby major boulevards. The city's initial Notice of Preparation papers are at

Message to Architect: Do Not Blot Out Wilshire Boulevard!

Since our last discussion of architect Peter Zumthor’s proposed new design of the Los Angeles County Art Museum, aka the Black Hole on Wilshire Boulevard (see, several important events have taken place:

The Page Museum, which employs paleontologists to excavate bones of ancient mammals from tar pits that lie east of the museum, pointed out that the new museum would overlie several active research sites. Emergency IM to Switzerland: Mr. Z, your tar pit museum has become mired in the honest-to-God tar pits! Back to the drawing board!

Local land use measures pile up on November ballots

November's local ballots aren't quite final; officials are still checking signatures on many petitions. But it's late enough in the season to have a sense of what's headed for a vote. (Especially in San Francisco and Santa Monica.) Here are some highlights of local measures likely to be on November ballots that are related to land use: [This article was revised July 29, mainly to reflect the compromise that is now likely to take two housing measures off San Francisco's local ballot.]

CP&DR News Summary, July 16, 2014: Water Board working on statewide waterway trash rules; Cal Supreme Court grants Newhall Ranch case review; San Diego housing fee compromise; Fresno General Plan draft; SF open space element

The State Water Resources Control Board is circulating a statewide version of proposed amendments to tighten existing statewide trash control rules. The proposals, released June 10, are at The proposal applies to all California surface waters except for the Los Angeles rivers and streams that, uniquely in the state, already have trash Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) standards for trash. Even those would be reconsidered under the statewide rules.

SGC meeting begins to shape the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program

The Strategic Growth Council (SGC) held a celebratory but serious public meeting July 10 to take stock of its budgetary good fortune under California's cap-and-trade program. [This article was updated July 29, adding links and the newly announced August dates of planned workshops on the program guidelines.]

Coastal Commission July session: Santa Monica Mountains LCP wins its last big approval; Commissioners ask what's fair to preserve affordable beach vacations

The Coastal Commission had plenty to worry about this month but the big-ticket item, the Santa Monica Mountains Local Coastal Program (LCP), was at last not problematic. After 28 years of difficult stop-and-start negotiations, the final Local Implementation Plan (LIP) approval session sounded like a Thursday morning at the Oscars. [This article was updated July 30.]