It’s safe to say that the City of Calistoga’s Silver Rose Referendum will not be the most important question on the ballot in the this November. Nor will Escondido’s general plan measure, nor even a preliminary vote on draining Hetch Hetchy reservoir.
While Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of redevelopment-related bills and the earlier failure of parking reform bill Assembly Bill 904 caused some consternation around the state, he did in fact sign a wide array of bills relating to land use at the end of last month.
Over the past year, even the most irate objectors to Gov. Jerry Brown's dismantling of redevelopment held out hope that in agreeing to kill redevelopment, the legislature would invent a new, better system for stoking local economic growth. Last week, the governor dashed those hopes.
Gov. Jerry Brown considered over 600 bills that came to his desk this legislative session. Some of the most contentious involved land use, particularly bills concerning redevelopment and the California Environmental Quality Act. The City of Los Angeles got a CEQA exemption for its proposed football stadium and infill developments have received special dispensation; speculation is that other such exemptions may be on the horizon.
Even with the preoccupation over the state budget--and especially the fate of redevelopment--Sacramento lawmakers have managed to advance a typically broad array of bills related to land use.
Several of those bills focus on redevelopment reform, most notably Sen. Alan Lowenthal's SB 450, which seeks to preserve funds for affordable housing, and Sen. Rod Wright's SB 286, aimed at comprehensive reform -- but not elimination -- of the state's redevelopment system. Both bills have the support of the League of California Cities and the California Redevelopment Association.
Collectively, ballots that California voters will cast Nov. 2 encompass a representative sample of the usual land use questions that California cities and counties face on a regular basis. Local voters will decide on everything from urban growth boundaries to downtown plans to specific projects. But, however strong local passions may be, the statewide ballot also includes potential whoppers on major issues like redevelopment funding, climate change, and the survival of state parks.
Updated as of November 3 with most current results.
For all of the Legislature's fretting this year, the consensus in Sacramento is that among the state’s overwhelming crises, land use ranked as a low priority this past legislative session. The legislative session that ended Aug. 30 included relatively few land use bills and, of those, they were of relatively minor import.
This month’s legislative session, which concludes August 31, includes no game changers like SB 375, but it does include a few bills related to land use and redevelopment that bear watching.
Los Angeles Stadium CEQA Exemption
Over 100 organizations have signed on to a statement circulated by the Planning and Conservation League opposing a CEQA exemption for the development of a would-be NFL football stadium in downtown Los Angeles. The concerns have arisen in part because of an exemption granted to Majestic Realty in 2009 for its proposed stadium in the City of Industry and because of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stated desire to grant exemptions to certain projects in the name of economic development.
CP&DR's regular roundup of legislation pending in Sacramento.
California Environmental Quality Act lawsuits may be the next victims of the state’s ongoing recession. Democratic and Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation that follows up on Gov. Schwarzenegger’s call to exempt 100 projects from judicial challenge based on the environmental law. Citing the ongoing recession, both supporters and opponents of the idea say this just might be the year that lawmakers are willing to take a bold strike at CEQA.