Last week I published a short op-ed in the Los Angeles Times suggesting that low-density development patterns are one of the reasons California cities are experiencing fiscal problems. But I have to admit I wasn’t prepared for the type of pushback I got from readers, most of whom seemed to view me as an apologist for public employee unions or as a radical wishing to overturn Proposition 13.
When voters in Orange County approved the creation of the 1,300-acre Orange County Great Park out of the shuttered Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, they had every reason to believe the estimated $1.2 billion cost would come, partially, from redevelopment monies. Such was the status quo in 2002.
California State University East Bay undertook a dual-purpose environmental impact report for its campus master plan and two construction projects, meant to enable the campus to grow from roughly 12,000 to 18,000 students in the next 30 years. The construction projects consisted of a housing complex and a parking structure. The EIR included alternatives at both the master plan and construction project level.
Even the most irate objectors to Gov. Jerry Brown's dismantling of redevelopment held out hope that in agreeing to killing redevelopment, the legislature would invent a new, better system for stoking local economic growth. Yesterday, the governor dashed those hopes.
Watch out, Copenhagen.
Like so many a rider at the back of the peleton, California cities have long lagged behind their European counterparts in their embrace of bicycling. But they are now clipping in and gearing with the dramatic arrival of bike sharing. With zero major bike-sharing systems currently in the state, no fewer than five California cities will be adopting pilot projects by mid-2013.
At times, city officials in California couldn’t be blamed for wanting to revert to bygone times, such as, perhaps, 14th century Italy. City-states would be one solution to what seems to be persistent rancor between Sacramento and cities. At the heart of that fray lies the League of California Cities, whose mission is to lobby for the diverse interest of the state’s 600-plus cities.
In a state with the likes of Yosemite, Griffith, Balboa, and Golden Gate, the development of a neighborhood park scarcely larger than a Trader Joe’s parking lot may not seem particularly noteworthy. But the pocket parks, community gardens, and micro-recreation areas of the City of Los Angeles’ 50 Parks Initiative are intended to be landmarks in some of the state’s neediest communities.
As California seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state’s industries in order to implement provisions of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Assembly Bill 32), entities and trade groups both inside and outside the state have looked to the “dormant” Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution as a legal means to challenge those efforts. The dormant clause implies that states cannot take actions that would, implicitly or explicitly, restrict interstate commerce—such as when California legally compels residents to consume less fuel.
In Quail Lakes Owners Assn. v. Kozina, the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District affirmed a trial court’s decision to grant a verified petition by a homeowners’ association for an order under Civil Code section 1356. The petition asked to modify the association’s governing laws to reduce a supermajority voting restriction.
On Saturday, California tax law finally catches up with the 21st century: some online retailers -- most notably, juggernaut Amazon.com -- will start charging sales tax for items sold in California if they have warehouse space in the state. Though we always knew there was something fishy about the tax exemption, as a consumer this development does not thrill me. As a citizen of the state, I suppose it's fine. The more money we can raise, the better.
As an urbanist, however, I say bring on the tax.
At least someone thinks California is going to emerge from its mess.
In 2006, a developers Y.T. Wong and SMI Construction, Inc. proposed to divide two existing ‘R-1’ zoned parcels totaling 1.89 acres into 11 lots to allow for the development of single-family homes in the community of Fairview in unincorporated Alameda County, bordering the City of Hayward. The county sent out written notices to a number of agencies, neighbors, and other interested parties, including the group that would become the appellants, indicating the county’s intent to utilize the section 15332 (Infill Development) CEQA exemption.
A proposal to use eminent domain to ward off foreclosures in two cities in San Bernardino County has been slammed almost unanimously by both Wall Street and federal regulators. The most powerful dissenter was Edward J. DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, who said on August 7 that he would resist any effort by local governments to “take” homes owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two agencies under his supervision; those agencies buy the majority of US home loans and repackage them as mortgage-backed securities.
Update: Sen. Michael Rubio and Senate Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg have announced that Senate Bill 317, which would have made major changes to the enforcement of the California Environmental Quality Act, has been killed and will not be heard by the Senate.
In a case pitting a real estate brokerage against a homeowners association, the trial court sustained demurrers to the HOA’s complaint against real estate brokers who acted as dual agents in the developers’ sale of properties in the development to HOA members.