EIR overturned for slim 'urban decay' mitigation

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"?

TRPA wins Tahoe plan update approval

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.

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Fish & Wildlife complaint filed vs San Jose on encampment

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has placed its water quality concerns in direct conflict with the state’s affordable housing shortage by filing a complaint with the Regional Water Quality Control Board against the City of San Jose over its Coyote Creek encampment, unofficial home to 150 or more people who reportedly live without access to basic utilities.

Solar payback rates locked in for 20 years: is that enough?

In an outcome more helpful to residential than institutional customers, the Public Utilities Commission has interpreted the AB 327 solar legislation of 2013 to grant a 20-year extension of the current Net Energy Metering (NEM) payback deal for solar panel owners who send energy back into the grid.

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"Measuring Sprawl" finds California metros denser than many

An academic study that gauges sprawl in cities nationwide has placed San Francisco very high in its compactness rankings ─ one alternate standard, buried deep in the report, actually ranks it first. It also rates Los Angeles above a surprising number of other cities, considering it's stereotyped as suffering from low-rise growth.

CP&DR News Summary, April 8, 2014: SF legalizes in-law units, eminent domain upheld for new Kings arena, and more

As Phil Frank's "Farley" cartoon said years ago, "If in-laws are outlawed, only outlaws will have in-laws!" Phil Frank didn't live to see it, but the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has

San Francisco won't require EIR on tech commuter shuttles

National and local writers have been all over the San Francisco Supervisors' April 1 decision to grant a Class 6 categorical exemption from CEQA to a pilot program for tech industry commuter shuttles, so instead of retelling the whole saga here we've gathered some links to CEQA and policy aspects of the story:

The city's pilot program has been allowing the "Google Bus" and other tech industry shuttles to pick up and drop off employees at public bus stops in exchange for a payment to the city of $1 every time a bus makes a stop.

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Rodeo's CEQA exemption allowed despite alleged creek pollution risk

An appellate court has upheld a CEQA exemption for the 2011 deputy sheriffs' charity rodeo at the Santa Cruz County fairgrounds in Watsonville. Although it was the first rodeo held there in a generation, the court held a categorical exemption was proper for the event on the grounds that, environmentally speaking, the rodeo was much a "normal operation" as any other livestock or equestrian event at that venue.

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CP&DR News Summary, April 1, 2014: expanding Clean Water Act's application; bills that could save Jurupa Valley's incorporation

A rule proposed March 25 by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers could broaden the definition of "waters of the United States" subject to Clean Water Act regulation. Among much else, that could expand the areas where developers need Section 404 permits from the Corps to go forward, in a parallel permitting process in addition to local government.

Contentiously briefed Tahoe dispute rests with the court now

A challenge by dissident conservationists to the Lake Tahoe Regional Plan Update is in the hands of U.S. Judge John A. Mendez following oral arguments in Sacramento March 26.

The arguments put a bookend to a fierce, prolonged exchange of court papers heavy with mutual exasperation, between parties who may disagree more utterly than most.

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CP&DR News Summary, March 25, 2014: Newhall Ranch wins a few, water board eases flow a little, and more

The proposed 60,000-population Newhall Ranch development began a recent winning streak with an LA Superior Court ruling Jan. 31 on water supply adequacy and greenouse gases in the project's Phase 1 EIR – as reported in a Santa Clarita Valley Signal news story whose comments section reflects fierce local debate: http://www.signalscv.com/section/36/article/113952/.

CEQA Makes Us Lazy

We’re pretty sure at this point that the California Environmental Quality Act does not apply to itself. (www.cp-dr.com/node/3395). But we’re still not quite sure whether CEQA applies “in reverse.” Does it require developers to consider not just their projects' effects on the environment, but also the potential effects on their projects from environmental hazards like landslides, earthquakes, or rising sea levels?

Cities providing water for development, if not for lawns

A generation ago, moratoriums on new water hookups were important to the statewide land use picture in bad drought years. During 1991, new hookups were banned in some large southern and coastal California cities and all of Marin County. Santa Monica made developers mitigate new hookups by buying low-flush toilets for existing users. The Metropolitan Water District suspended annexations.

Not so in 2014.

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Cap and Trade roundup: debate over revenues continues

With $1.54 billion already spent on California carbon emission rights, debate continues on whether the state's cap-and-trade auction process is valid and what the auction proceeds are for.

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Healdsburg wants Toronto and New York to know its faucets are fine.

[This item has been updated with CDPH comment.]

Officials of Healdsburg and at least three smaller water districts have been trying to shed unwanted status as poster children for the California drought.

In a January 28 press release at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/NR14-012.aspx, the Department of Public Health issued a list of 17 communities that it said were at risk for running out of drinking water. Since then, Healdsburg City Manager Marjie Pettus has been insisting she doesn't know why.

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