Headline Story

Newport Beach's Banning Ranch Approval Upheld by Appellate Court

The Fourth District Court of Appeal has upheld the City of Newport Beach’s decision to “approve” a development project on Banning Ranch, saying that the city complied with both the California Environmental Quality Act and its own general plan. A trial judge had ruled that the city complied with CEQA but violated its own general plan. 

The project is still pending before the Coastal Commission.

It was the second time in less than three years that the Fourth District upheld Newport Beach’s action on the Banning Ranch project. In December 2012, the court ruled that the city’s EIR had properly analyzed the impact of the project on adjacent parks. 

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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.

SB 743 at CCAPA: Will Roadway Expansion Be Transformed From Mitigation To Impact?

The SB 743 roadshow went to Anaheim over the weekend, where the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research – along with Ron Milam from Fehr & Peers – faced an overflow crowd and probed deeply into OPR’s proposal to dump traffic congestion as a significant impact under the California Environmental Quality Act. And the discussion showed just how much the OPR proposal is turning the CEQA’s traditional assumptions about traffic on their head.

End of Redevelopment: Nobody's A Winner

The end of redevelopment has never turned into a cash cow for the state, as Gov. Jerry Brown hoped back in 2011. And while the 2012 cleanup law – AB 1484 – has clarified the rules, cities are still losing most lawsuits against the state that seek to retain former redevelopment funds.

Livetweeting APA California

This week CP&DR is livetweeting the APA California conference in Anaheim.  You can read first impressions from the panels at http:// www.twitter.com/Cal_plan. (No need to have a Twitter account: just close any pop-up windows at the site and keep reading.) We'll have more detailed coverage here later on based on news picked up at the conference.

The Dark Side of Environmental Quality

You think this is going to be another piece about the shortcomings and backfires of the California Environmental Quality Act. It’s not.

Appellate Court Upholds Coastal Commission's Tough Stance on Encinitas Seawall

In a split decision, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has upheld the Coastal Commission’s conditions on two property owners’ reconstruction of a seawall in Encinitas after it was destroyed in a storm, including limiting the new seawall’s permit to a 20-year term.

OPR Indicates VMT Guidance Will Trump General Plan Standards

The proposed CEQA Guidelines prohibiting lead agencies from categorizing traffic congestion as a significant impact will likely trump any significance finding tied to local general plans that contain a level of service standard, state officials said at a forum on the draft guidelines Friday in San Diego.

Environmental justice and housing worlds seek meeting of minds on defining disadvantage

Advocates for affordable housing and advocates for environmental justice have a lot in common, but their goals and assumptions don't always mesh fully. Now the new cap-and-trade law is forcing them to have a more serious conversation. They're especially having to work out grantmaking guidelines under the new Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program. It isn't easy. (For prior coverage of the AHSC guidelines debate see http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3556.)

Some of the difficulty was on display at a September 3 workshop in Oakland, held to discuss CalEPA's proposals on how to define "disadvantaged communities" under all of the cap-and-trade programs regulated by SB 535, and related proposals from the Air Resources Board (ARB) on how to define when such communities receive benefits. With comment on these proposals due September 15, the conversations in small-group discussions at the workshop had a note of urgency.

CP&DR News Summary, September 10, 2014: Is SB 628 too much like redevelopment or not enough? Signing decisions, debate points, water dilemmas, studies and more

For some affordable-housing activists and local governments, SB 628, the end-of-session bill expressing Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal for Enhanced Infrastructure Finance Districts, isn't similar enough to the way redevelopment programs worked when they were shut down as of 2011. (See last week's detailed coverage at http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3563.) But columnist Steven Greenhut in the San Diego Union-Tribune greeted SB 628 by asking, "Redevelopment: Back with a vengeance?"