If you think browsing court records in public policy lawsuits is a sensible use of time -- and since you're reading this publication, you may -- here's a warning that, if you don't work in California or federal government, the best time to read court documents in Sacramento Superior Court is before July 1. On that date, unless local court officials relent, online case records will become expensively paywalled.
Opponents of San Francisco's tech bus shuttle program filed May 1 for court review of the county Supervisors' decision to exempt it from CEQA review. The double-decker buses, which carry city residents to jobs on South Bay office campuses, pay the city a dollar every time a bus makes a stop. Opponents say the buses disrupt public transit but, more important, that they cause displacement by driving up housing prices along the bus routes. While the buses do reduce car trips to the campuses, they have been viewed as both a mitigation and a condition to mitigate.
As the California Legislature moves into spring horse-trading season, here's a review in links of some state-level legislation we're following that's relevant to land use, housing and the environment. In addition to the links provided here, the "Bill Information" section at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/ has status updates and texts for all bills and helpful legislative analyses for most.
The Fitch Ratings service on May 1 announced it was ready to take a sunnier view of tax allocation bonds (TABs) administered by successor agencies in California's redevelopment dissolution. The changed view could affect both the sale prices of existing bonds and the interest rates available to successor agencies when they refinance their existing debt with refunding bonds.
CP&DR News Summary, April 29, 2014: With SF ruling confirmed, local plastic bag bans may have Sept. 1 deadlineBy Martha Bridegam on 29 April 2014 - 8:52pm
California city councils may be in a short time window when it's to their advantage to pass local bans on plastic bags. They became more safely able to do so as of April 16 when the state Supreme Court declined to review the ruling by California's First District that upheld San Francisco's ban on plastic bags last winter. That decision was ordered published in January. At the other end of their time window is a deadline that could be imposed if the Legislature passes SB 270, proposed by State Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima.
The California Legislature's post-Redevelopment landscape is in a state of crumble and tentative growth. Like sprouts on a redwood stump, bills have crowded the space left by the 2011 abolition of local redevelopment districts and their tax-increment financing structures. The sprouts have begun variously to strengthen, clump together, or falter, but with little coherence: some of the most vigorous stems are tending in different, possibly incompatible directions. It's uncertain which if any will become new main trunks.
How Will Demography Drive California’s Destiny From Now On?
Demography drives destiny, the old saying goes. And in the past few months, we’ve gotten a couple of pieces of important demographic news that are likely to help shape the future of California – if we can understand what they mean.
As expected, the city of Brentwood has appealed a major April 2 Sacramento County Superior Court ruling that upheld a "clawback" of former redevelopment agency funds by the state Department of Finance (DOF). It's uncertain how much tax money statewide could be affected by the decision; state officials have said $3 billion or more.
What's coming down in Sacramento this month is more politics than precipitation: bills at all levels of realism, tough reexaminations of old water deals, horsetrading and litigation on big projects, and calls from Gov. Brown to revise the "Rainy Day Fund" measure on this November's ballot in case of more dry years. The LA Times' George Skelton called it "fighting season": http://lat.ms/QAaTb2 . Here's just a little of the mid-spring wrangle, in links:
Stadium proposal is battling stadium proposal in Oakland, a mid-sized city with limited resources that wants to keep its name on big-time sports marquees. So far, professional sports team owners appear to be tilting toward a proposal to build a new football stadium, and possibly a new venue for baseball, on the current Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site.
It has been a busy few weeks in toxics and nuisances. Southern California air quality enforcers battled lead, arsenic, chromium-6, red jalapeños and chicken manure. The Bay Area AQMD adopted a new greenhouse gas control program. A study found air pollution is worse in communities of color. Another found further evidence that pollution from traffic is bad for your heart. The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments on rail yard emissions, the state water board proposed three new TMDL standards, and the state public health department proposed new chromium 6 rules for public drinking water. All over the state, activists and local governments worked to discourage fracking in local wells, and local officials from Berkeley to Sacramento grew concerned about rail movements of oil from fracking. Vice Magazine accused Chevron of founding a local news site to buffer its image, and a crowd turned out to debate the EIR for Chevron's proposed plant upgrade to treat higher-sulfur crude.
A pair of local ballot measures supported by the Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association will remain on San Diego's June 3 city ballot thanks to an April 4 court decision.
When a new shopping center at the edge of town might skim off customers from existing businesses, how far can a planning department go to protect against "urban decay"?
A summary judgment ruling April 7 by U.S. District Judge John Mendez upheld the Tahoe Regional Plan Update, endorsing a new regulatory approach to protecting Lake Tahoe that emphasizes incentives for more centralized, better mitigated development. His decision helps to ratify a high-level accord that in 2011 and 2012 resolved political tensions between California and Nevada over shared governance of Lake Tahoe.