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AB 2: Redevelopment Is Back -- Or Is It?

So, redevelopment is back, sort of. How much of a difference it will make remains to be seen.

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed AB 2 (Alejo), which permits cities to create tax-increment-based “Community Redevelopment Investment Authorities” (CRIA). It’s more or less the same bill that legislative leaders – led by former Senate pro tem Darrell Steinberg – have been trying to get Brown to sign since 2012, when the redevelopment agencies were shut down. 

Unlike those earlier bills, however, this law makes the overt point of completely disconnecting the new system from the old redevelopment code sections in state law; and it makes no connection to SB 375 and the state’s other sustainability-based planning and development efforts.

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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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Battle between Football, Brunch Rages in L.A.

I went to brunch a few Sunday mornings ago at Louie’s, a place that I will unironically describe as a gastropub. My Sunday rituals usually consist of visits to the farmers market and worrying about deadlines.

High-Speed Rail: Coming (Slowly) to a City Near You

There is, perhaps, no place on Earth so supremely well suited for high-speed rail as the leeward side of the island of Formosa. Sheltered from the Pacific winds, all of Taiwan's major cities hug the island's western coastal plain, unbroken by the mountains that characterize the interior. Running in nearly a straight line, the train covers the 214 miles from the Taipei to Zouying in two hours. It now carries 44 million passengers per year.

CP&DR News Briefs, January 6, 2015: Chumash Fee-to-Trust Application Granted, County to Appeal; Brown Opens Fourth Term with Climate Change Goals; Moreno Valley May Create Foreclosure Registry

As anticipated, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has approved the application by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians to have its 1400-acre Camp 4 property taken into federal trust. The Tribe has stated intentions to build housing, a community center and related buildings on the property. Local critics have expressed fears about what could happen after trust status takes the property out of state and county jurisdiction and exempts it from local taxation.