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CPD&R News Briefs March 23, 2015: Housing Costs Drag Down State Economy; Caltrans Proposes 710 Freeway Fixes,

A report issued by the Legislative Analyst's Office shows that California's high housing costs are stifling the state's economy and making it difficult to create affordable housing. The report says that the state "probably would have to build as many as 100,000 additional units annually...to seriously mitigate its problems with housing affordability." But housing construction has fallen behind population and job growth, with builders only getting authorization to start 37,000 single-family homes and 49,000 multifamily units statewide last year.

DWR must reopen environmental review on the Kern Water Bank

About 20 years after the Monterey Agreement sewed up disputes among contractors of the State Water Project (SWP), opponents of the deal have come as close to unstitching it as they've been in many years.

In an October 2 ruling on the Kern Water Bank cases, Judge Timothy Frawley ordered the EIR on the "Monterey Plus Project" settlement to be revised and submitted for recertification, but with the revisions to focus only on the environmental impact of the "use and operation" of the Kern Water Bank.

Study finds a few ways to lower affordable housing costs per unit

California's state housing finance administrators published a long-delayed study October 13 on the cost of building affordable housing. It found no single factor to blame for California's high costs per unit. But it said economies of scale tend to help, and multiple layers of restrictions don't help, and that perhaps cost containment should be a more important factor in awarding housing tax credits.

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CP&DR News Summary, October 8, 2014: State Supreme Court to review Friant Ranch case, Laguna Beach activists win a round, LA issues transportation plan

The California Supreme Court agreed on October 1 to review a major CEQA case, Sierra Club v. County of Fresno, (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 704, in which the Fifth District Court of Appeal blocked the "Friant Ranch," a large planned development focused on seniors' housing. (See prior coverage at http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3504.)

SGC revisits key questions on proposed cap-and-trade program design

This week the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) came back to some questions on distributing cap-and-trade proceeds that were asked but not conclusively answered this summer -- and hinted that maybe these are the tough ones. The occasion was a public airing at the Council's October 6 meeting for a recently circulated draft of proposed guidelines for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program.

Atkins appoints Urban Land Institute ED to Strategic Growth Council

Speaker Toni Atkins of the California Assembly on October 2 appointed Gail Goldberg to one of two new public-member positions on the Strategic Growth Council (SGC). The SGC is about to set major aspects of policy for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities cap-and-trade grantmaking program. (See prior coverage at http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3578.)

CP&DR News Summary, September 30, 2014: Merced CAG approves new RTP/SCS; Antelope Valley Area Plan approved, and more

The Merced County Association of Governments board approved a Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy September 25. Choosing between a "Scenario A" that assumed continuing growth trends, and a "Scenario B" that presumed a 35% density increase over current trends, the board chose "B". Neither version meets the Air Resources Board's prescribed goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 10% by 2035, so an Alternative Planning Strategy will need to be prepared as required under SB 375.

Governor's signing decisions – Key land-use bills plus picks from the SGF 'Greatest Hits'

In this review of Governor Brown's signing and veto decisions, which by law were due September 30, we start with outcomes on some bills previously covered by CP&DR during the year, then move on to excerpts from the "Greatest Hits" list maintained by Senate Governance and Finance Committee staff:

Insight: Everyone wants to keep leverage under CEQA

A few weeks ago I stopped by Bacara for the first time. Bacara is a superfancy resort along the Gaviota Coast, just off Highway 101 west of the UC Santa Barbara campus. With a rack rate of maybe $700 a night for a room, it’s far from cheap. And it’s beautifully designed – a collection of Santa Barbara-style white buildings, two and three stories, tumbling down a hill toward the ocean.

Legal news briefs: SANDAG suit status, another administrative record costs case, and more

California's Fourth District Court of Appeal heard oral arguments in August on the major suit by conservation groups against the San Diego Association of Governments over its Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy. The court took the case under submission August 27 so a decision is expected in the next month or two. For the online docket see http://bit.ly/1uSBoHd. The case concerns the first Sustainable Communities Strategy that was issued under SB 375.

Coastal Commissioners ask for more agenda control

The Coastal Commission met in Smith River this September, just three miles from the Oregon state line. The reduced two-day agenda and remote setting gave the meeting aspects of a retreat. Members used the slack in the session to raise big-picture and procedural questions – and at the end of the second day, a group of Commissioners staged a mini-rebellion seeking greater power to choose agenda items.

OPR's transportation metric drafters hint they're more open to change

The Office of Planning and Research (OPR) staff members working on the SB 743 transportation impact metric are showing signs they may be receptive to criticism, possibly slowing the CEQA Guidelines changes down and rethinking the “regional average” metric for vehicle miles traveled that they proposed last month.

OPR staffers' discussion tour both explains and shapes SB 743 proposal

The state’s proposed switch in transportation metrics for analysis under the California Environmental Quality Act came into sharper focus during September, as Office of Planning & Research staff provided more detail – and listened to criticism – in a series of forums around the state.

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CP&DR News Summary, September 24, 2014

In land use and planning this week:

Highlights from APA California

CP&DR was livetweeting extensively from panels at the APA California conference, as you can see by scrolling back to our September 14 and 15 posts at http://www.twitter.com/Cal_plan. Following are some notes filling out those highlights in context, and adding some further notes on issues raised at the conference.

How to relate VMT estimates to each other?

SGC proposes 40% of cap-and-trade funds for transit-oriented development

The Strategic Growth Council has proposed that 40% of its estimated $130 million in cap-and-trade funds be devoted to transit-oriented development (TOD) projects and that another 30% be devoted to a variety of infrastructure-related programs that may include housing.

The SGC issued draft program guidelines yesterday afternoon. The week before, the Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted guidelines on benefits to disadvantaged communities.

CP&DR News Summary, September 17, 2014: non-conference news, including two CEQA cases

While CP&DR and lots of our readers were at the APA California conference, land use news continued to appear in the outside world. A few highlights are summarized here. (Coastal Commission coverage to follow in a few days.)

Keep watching our Web site as we unpack and follow up more news from the conference, and if you haven't seen our livetweeting stream from some of the September 14 and 15 panels, it's still available at https://twitter.com/Cal_plan.