Smart Growth Literature Hits a Cul-du-Sac

Where is Robert Bruegemann when you need him?

A few years back, Bruegmann wrote Sprawl: A Compact History, an exaltation of low-density growth. It called for cities to double-down on all the conventions and mistakes of the previous 50 years. It was a disturbingly anachronistic, but it was provocative, and it was passionate.

It seems that these days there's still plenty of in urbanist literature, but, for better or worse, provocation is getting harder to come by.

Secure the Terminal, Secure the City

This week the Huffington Post ran a concerning piece about the recent shooting at Los Angeles International Airport.

Brown Issues Draft Environmental Goals and Policies Report

After a 30-odd-year delay, the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research has released a working draft of the Environmental Goals & Policies Report – a document that OPR is supposed to produce every four years.

Steve Jobs' Ring of Saturn

A couple of weeks ago, the Cupertino City Council approved the long-awaited, 3.2-million-square-foot Apple Campus 2. Approval means that the building, notable for its purely circular footprint, is to arise on an open field north of Interstate 280, with completion expected in about two years. Designed by architectural luminary Sir Norman Foster, the main office building is notable for a purely circular footprint. Both Apple and the architect suggest that the horizontally oriented, four-story building will be gentler on Gaia than a tall building.

Inclusionary Housing Must Be Litigated As Exaction, Cal Supremes Rule

The California Supreme Court has ruled that an inclusionary housing requirement is an exaction rather than a land use regulation – a distinction that means inclusionary housing could be judged by the same nexus and proportionality requirements as other exactions.

Big Changes Ahead: OPR to revise both General Plan and CEQA Guidelines

California’s Office of Planning & Research appears likely to make a major impact this year by revising the General Plan Guidelines and pushing the envelope on the California Environmental Quality Act in a way that hasn’t been seem for a decade or more.

Steinberg Manages Some CEQA Reform After All

So, what did Sen. Darrell Steinberg’s last-minute switcheroo mean for CEQA reform? More than you might think.

Insight: Kill CEQA Before I Use It Again

In the pantheon of developer complaints about the California Environmental Quality Act, perhaps the most common one is that it’s too easy to use it to file crazy lawsuits purely for the purposes of gumming up the works.

Which is maybe why the building industry and property rights advocates have spent so much time lately filing CEQA lawsuits apparently designed to gum up the works.

New CEQA Reform Amendments Could Require Socioeconomic Analysis on Infill

Will CEQA ever give infill development a break?

SB 731 – now pending in the Assembly – is intended to do just that. But in the latest twist in an increasingly long-running tale, the bill has now been amended in a way that could push CEQA significantly in the direction of assessing the socioeconomic impact of infill development.

New CEQA Reform Amendments Could Require Socioeconomic Analysis on Infill

Will CEQA ever give infill development a break?

SB 731 – now pending in the Assembly – is intended to do just that. But in the latest twist in an increasingly long-running tale, the bill has now been amended in a way that could push CEQA significantly in the direction of assessing the socioeconomic impact of infill development.

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.