CEQA, Redevelopment Bills Continue To Move Through Legislature

As the California legislative session winds down, both CEQA reform and the revival of redevelopment appear headed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

Both bills are being carried by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. They both passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee last Friday. The redevelopment bill – SB 1, virtually unchanged since last spring -- passed 12-5, presumably on a party-line vote. The CEQA bill – SB 731, the subject of endless wrangling in August – passed 17-0.

Job Creators Need Not Fear Urban Planners

Recently, economist and entrepreneurship expert Carl Schramm announced a discovery in the pages of Forbes.com: “the practice of city planning has escaped reality.” Planners don’t see the big picture. They don’t understand economic growth. They’ve unleashed upon us scourges like live-work lofts, fire stations, and bloated pensions.

It's Official: CEQA Does Not Apply to CEQA

The First District Court of Appeal has batted down an attempt by the California Building Industry Association to turn CEQA on its head, saying that the passage of significance thresholds is not a project under the environmental law. In so doing, the court concluded that an environmental analysis is not required to examine the environmental impact of the standards used to conduct environmental analysis and assess environmental impact. 

In other words, the appellate court ruled that CEQA does not apply to CEQA – at least not in this case.

CEQA Reform Bill Passes Key Assembly Committee

Two weeks after it was left for dead, SB 731 – the bill to reform the California Environmental Quality Act – unanimously passed the Assembly Local Government Committee Wednesday. The bill was amended last week to ease parking requirements on infill development but it was unclear whether that would be enough to satisfy the Assembly. 

Expo Line Case Tells the Tale: CEQA Gets More Complicated Again

At a glance, last week’s California Supreme Court ruling in the Expo Line CEQA case laid down a pretty clear rule: Lead agencies can use a “future baseline” for environmental analysis, but they have to be very careful in documenting the reasons why. L.A. Metro erred in using a “future baseline,” but fortunately for the agency the court concluded that it didn’t make any difference to the analysis.

Can Parking Changes Get CEQA Reform To The Finish Line?

Reports of CEQA reform appear to be greatly exaggerated. After sailing through the Senate late last spring, SB 731 – Senate leader Darrell Steinberg’s supposedly consensus-based reform of the California Environmental Quality Act – is still in the Assembly.  Business-oriented CEQA reformers have reversed their earlier position and come out against it, while labor and environmental groups may also have problems with the bill. 

Will New Transbay Transit Center Transform SoMa?

San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center is slowing taking shape in a hole south of Market Street.  

Book Review: History of Future Cities

At first glance, the premise of journalist Daniel Brook's History of Future Cities threatens to overwhelm its substance. "What do these four cities...have in common?" asks Brook, as if co-hosting a parlor game with Edward Glaeser, Saskia Sassen, and Jaime Lerner. 

Appellate Court Sends Inclusionary San Jose Housing Case Back to Trial Judge

The City of San Jose has won an important round in a potentially landmark chase challenging the legality of inclusionary housing ordinances in California.

U.S. Supremes Tighten Screws on Exactions -- Is Ehrlich Dead?

The U.S. Supreme Court has tightened the screws on exactions, ruling in a case from Florida that government agencies must follow the Nollan/Dolan doctrine – even when a permit is denied and when the exaction involves money as well as property.

Encinitas Voters Approve Height Limit, Vote Requirement

Voters in the North San Diego County city of Encinitas have narrowly approved a ballot initiative limiting building heights to two stories in most parts of the city and requiring future changes in height and density to a vote.

The Long View: California Sprawls Less Over 60 Years

You might wonder how many times I can write a blog highlighting how different California is from the rest of the country when it comes to density. After all, I started on this screed back in 2001, when I co-authored Who Sprawls Most?  And just a month ago I wrote a blog noting that, according to the Census Bureau, California metros are densifying while their counterparts elsewhere are not. 

So, Who's That New San Diego Planning Director?

On Tuesday, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner announced that he had selected Bill Fulton, this publication's founding editor and publisher, as the city's new planning director. 

Rather than comment on this surprising turn of events, we thought we'd simply provide a rundown of blog and media coverage. The surprise announcement took place early Tuesday morning before an assembled crowd that included some 500 employees of the city's Development Services Department.

Steinberg's CEQA and Redevelopment Bills Move Forward

After a variety of setbacks, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, is doggedly moving forward with bills to reform the California Environmental Quality Act and revive redevelopment. Both bills – SB 731 for CEQA and SB 1 for redevelopment – have cleared the Senate and are now pending in the Senate.

County of Los Angeles v. City of Los Angeles

The latest illustration of intergovernmental non-cooperation examines the circumstances in which cities can route sewer lines through county rights of way, all without county approval.