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CP&DR News Briefs, April 13, 2015: L.A. Sustainabilty Plan; S.D. Rescinds Embattled Climate Plan; Californians Win National APA Awards; and More

Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles announced his new "Sustainable City pLAn," a far-reaching decree that seeks to make Los Angeles sustainable in ways ranging from water to solar energy to waste. Among other things, the plan seeks to reduce daily Vehicle Miles Traveled by 5 percent by 2025, to implement the Vision Zero policy to reduce traffic fatalities, to have zero days in which air pollution reaches unhealthy levels by 2025, and to complete 32 miles of Los Angeles River public access by 2025. The plan defines sustainability broadly, to include not only ecological goals but also broad goals of social and economic sustainability.

The plan seeks to reduce driving and pollution, increase walkability within neighborhoods (using WalkScore), improve pedestrian safety, promote development of affordable housing and transit-oriented development, support the re:codeLA initiative to update the city’s zoning code, revitalize the L.A. River, and support environmental justice, among other goals. Garcetti also signed a mayoral directive that requires all city departments to incorporate pLAn goals into their programs, and establishes sustainability officers in applicable departments and bureaus. At a signing event, he pledged that this "is not a plan for the shelves."

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?"

Legal news briefs: mobile home parks, ADA parking access, and more

The partnership that owns a mobile home park in Fillmore, California received a Ninth Circuit determination September 2 that it has standing to sue the city over "interference" with its application to subdivide the park.

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Court rejects Fresno approvals on procedural grounds but accepts 'historic resource' decision

A developer proposing to replace two century-old houses in Fresno with 28 new two-story townhouses lost its appeal of a CEQA writ of mandate but won significant points from the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Citizens for the Restoration of L Street v. City of Fresno.

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November ballot measure previews: Pismo Beach, Costa Mesa, El Dorado County

Pismo Beach: Price Canyon planning

Residents of Pismo Beach will vote in November on a measure that will give them more say in development decisions involving a large swath of land that few visitors to the city ever see. It's located inland in Price Canyon, behind the coastal Santa Lucia Mountains that flank the city.

CP&DR News Summary, September 2, 2014: Legislative end-of-session highlights

The California legislative session ended this Labor Day weekend. Now it's all about the Governor's signing decisions. We'll have more on end-of-session legislative outcomes as the news shakes out but here are some preliminary items:

SB 270 plastic bag law goes to Governor

The AB 270 ban on single-use plastic bags had a tough time during the Legislature's final week but made it through after all.

Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts legislation passes in SB 628

It looks like Governor Jerry Brown’s vision for Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts will become law. Meanwhile, a minor revival of redevelopment has also reached the Governor’s desk but Brown appears likely to veto it.

CP&DR News Summary, August 27, 2014: Workshops conclude next week on disadvantaged community definitions; Oakland's Coliseum Specific Plan posted; Legislative and legal developments

The Air Resources Board held workshops August 25 and 26, and rescheduled a third for Oakland on September 3, on how to define "benefit" to a "disadvantaged community" for purposes of programs distributing cap-and-trade auction proceeds. The discussion will include efforts at a formal answer to one of the most important urban planning questions of the past half-century: when does money spent in a place that is defined as disadvantaged actually benefit disadvantaged people?

LOS to VMT: the arguments have begun

It can sound like a simple step, to end Level of Service (LOS) metrics in CEQA transportation analysis. The more conceptually elegant Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) metric is easy to welcome in the abstract, with its incentives for shared and active transportation, its arguably simpler calculation methods, its potential to realign CEQA analysis with state climate protection law – and most of all, its escape from the addictive spiral of induced demand for broad, free-flowing highways that, under the logic of LOS analysis, always need widening again.

But in early August the Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) published a detailed discussion draft setting out an alternative transportation impacts metric in compliance with last year's SB 743 mandate. And alongside the big-picture discussions of environmentally conscious innovation, the technical arguments began.

LA Supes give their final vote to Santa Monica Mountains LCP

On August 26 the LA County Supervisors gave final approval to the Santa Monica Mountains Local Coastal Program (LCP) on its return from the Coastal Commission with amendments approved there July 10.

Since the Commission had already approved the whole program with county participation, a quick pro forma approval and a round of congratulations might have been expected.

Instead, a group of indignant winemakers and winelovers made a last attempt to beat the plan before it went through.

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Coastal Commission approves highway expansion, works at access issues

In a rare four-day session, the Coastal Commission gave the heart of one day to hearing and approving a $6 billion project to expand the I-5 transportation corridor north of San Diego. It spent even more of another day deciding to close the Children's Pool during seal pupping season in La Jolla. And as special beach access legislation moved toward the Governor's desk, discussion returned repeatedly to the Commission's dispute over Martins Beach in San Mateo County with property owner Vinod Khosla.

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Official: Nearly Sure No Fault Under Big-Dollar Tower In Tinseltown

It’s hemi-semi-official: In the opinion of one of the state’s leading geologists, no earthquake fault lies beneath the immense Millennium office development in Hollywood. That is the expert opinion of Stephen Testa, who is executive director of the State Mining and Geology Board. Unlike several other geologists who have addressed the board in this case, Testa is not a consultant for the Millenium project.

Promise of $130m draws out a specialists' debate on getting sustainable development right

It's only $130 million. That's all the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program has to spend this coming year. Spread out statewide, it's enough money to help steer some projects toward the prescribed goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through environmentally responsible development. It's not enough to build a lot from scratch.

A note to readers

Dear CP&DR Readers,

By now, you may have heard that I have decided to move on from my current job as Planning Director of the City of San Diego to become the Director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University in Houston. (See http://kinder.rice.edu/content.aspx?id=2147485438&blogid=306.) I’m writing this short missive to reassure you that I remain committed to California Planning & Development Report – and, in fact, I’ll have more motivation and bandwidth to devote to CP&DR than I have had in recent years.

CP&DR News Summary, August 12, 2014: Legislators, Brown, give themselves more time to finish $7.2 billion water bond; the whittling-down of Ponte Vista; 'boomerang funds', and more

August 11 would have been the deadline for California's statewide ballots to go to press, but state legislators pushed that date back as they continued to work on a water bond deal with Governor Jerry Brown. According to Ben Adler of Capitol Public Radio, details emerged late in the day of a plan calling for almost $7.2 billion in spending -- most of it in new bond funds -- of which $2.5 billion would support surface water storage projects.

A Beachhead Against Placelessness

It’s no secret that Walmart stores have caused the entire economies of small towns to decamp for some highway strip and, ultimately, wind up in Bentonville. But at least you know a Walmart when you see it – from miles away, no less.

A similarly insidious trend toward generic placelessness has been taking place in smaller-scale communities, even in many of the places that progressive planners hail as attractive, functioning communities.