Redevelopment Cleanup Bill Sparks Relief, Outrage Among Cities

For many cities that have endured the painful process of dissolving their redevelopment agencies, the bloodletting has begun anew. 

Google Boss Sees Housing Crisis Through 3-D Glasses

BEVERLY HILLS, May 2, 2016 – As the saying goes, when you’re holding a hammer, the world looks like a nail. What if you have a 3-D printer instead of a hammer?

If you’re Eric Schmidt, you build houses. 

CP&DR News Briefs, April 25, 2016: San Jose Rent Freeze; San Joaquin River Endangered; L.A. 'Megadevelopment' Lawsuit, and More

The San Jose city council voted, 6-5, to reduce annual rent hikes in a third of apartments, which is a move to stabilize rent in one of the nation’s most expensive cities. The city has 44,000 rent-controlled units that can raise rents only 5 percent per year instead of 8. The city’s housing department suggested tying annual rent to inflation like other CA cities while Councilman Peralez pushed for only 4 percent increase annually. The council approved another housing item: an anti-retaliation ordinance that would protect renters against requesting repairs and being evicted. The Council also approved, 7-4, to eliminate a program that allowed landlords to pass debt off to renters unless they were “major improvement costs.”

Insight: Will Medical Marijuana Cases Drive Land Use Law From Now On?

Medical marijuana in California may be a pretty intense battleground, but at the same time, to mix metaphors, it usually looks like a policy cul-de-sac. Advocates of access to medical marijuana are generally single-issue folks who don’t care much about any other local issue. And advocates of strict regulation – who include a vast number of local elected officials throughout the state – don’t break down along traditional ideological grounds.

But the fact of the matter is that the controversy over access to medical marijuana could soon become a driving force in shaping policy around the state on land use and ballot measures. The reason is goes something like this: Because most local medical marijuana regulation amounts to zoning, that means most medical marijuana disputes are land-use disputes. And because the battle is so intense, neither side gives up easily, so the disputes are more likely to go to the ballot and wind up in appellate court.

Just in the last month, appellate courts in California have issued four different published rulings having to do with medical marijuana. Curiously, all four came from inland California, including three from the Inland Empire and one from Kern County.

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CP&DR News Briefs, April 18, 2016: L.A. Community Plan Updates; High Speed Rail Alignments; and More

With a controversial measure that would force the City of Los Angeles to update its 35 community plans headed for the March ballot, Mayor Eric Garcetti is calling for the update of all of the city's community plans. He intends to include funding in his upcoming budget to support this effort. And in a motion introduced by several councilmembers  the City Council instructed the Planning Department to report on overhauling the Community Plan program. They also called for recommendations on ways to increase oversight of the environmental review process, and upgrade outdated technology. 

City leaders also called for a new Citywide General Plan, which has not been fully updated in more than 20 years. “We have a responsibility to plan for prosperity and growth in ways that reflect the energy of this great City and protect the character of our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I want Angelenos to have a sense of ownership over the development of their communities and these reforms help us get there." Garcetti pledged to nearly triple the planning department’s community plan staff, to better ensure all plans are updated in no more than 10 years. The mayor’s budget will include $1.5 million in new funding for the Community Planning program and General Plan program, as part of his upcoming 2016-17 budget. He also laid out a plan for ongoing funding for the program to ensure updates are completed within 36 months. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)

CP&DR News Briefs, April 4, 2016: Klamath River Pact; Solar Plant Approved, Protested; Berkeley Housing Package; and More

A pact between California, Oregon and a private utility, PacifiCorp, could finally lead to the demolition of four hydroelectric dams that block salmon migrations up the Klamath River. It does so without requiring direct federal involvement and, therefore, without requiring congressional approval.  In 2010 a pact gave US Interior Department a major role in decommissioning of dams and required Congress to sign off on the removal; Congress refused to do so last year hen it was in the throes of partisan gridlock. According to the agreement California will contribute $250 million in state bond money and PacifiCorp customers will pay a surcharge up to $200 million, which should cover the estimated costs. The removal of the dams will be managed by the new Klamath River Renewal Corp.

Community Development Director wanted, City of Marina, CA

Community Development Director
City of Marina, CA

State "Incentives" To Charter Cities To Use Prevailing Wage Struck Down

A state law that prohibits charter cities from receiving state funds for a public construction project if it allows the contractors to not pay prevailing wage has been upheld by a split appellate court.

Writing for a two-justice majority in City of El Centro v. Lanier, Fourth District Court of Appeal Justice James McIntyre concluded that Labor Code Section 1782 does not violate Article XI, section 5(a) of the California Constitution, which provides home rule authority and Article XIII, section 24(b), which prohibits the state from restricting the use of local tax revenues.  McIntyre ruled that wage levels on public construction projects are a local matter and that Section 1782 does not create a conflict with state law governing charter cities, which is derived from the home rule provision in the Constitution.

“Section 1782 does not conflict with these charter city laws as it does not mandate or require that charter cities do anything, such as paying prevailing wages for its public works projects,” he wrote. “Rather, section 1782 provides the Cities with a choice, to meet the requirements set forth in section 1782 to obtain state funding or financial assistance on its public works projects, or forgo eligibility for those funds.”

CP&DR News Briefs, April 4, 2016: $3.6 Billion for Sacramento Transportation; L.A. Park Fees; San Diego Stadium Plan; and More

Sacramento County voters may decide whether to increase the county sales tax by half-cent to fund major road and transit improvements. Proposed by the Sacramento Transportation Authority, the tax could raise $3.6 billion over 30 years to be spent across the county. Much of these types of projects were previously funded by gas tax, which has been diminishing in the last few years.

CP&DR News Briefs, March 21, 2016: L.A. Moratorium Initiative Postponed; A $120 Billion Wish-List; S.F. Moves toward VMT; and More

The Coalition to Preserve L.A. has announced it will postpone the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, a proposed ballot initiative that would have deep ramifications or planning in Los Angeles, until March 2017. The coalition also revised the original 26-page initiative to eight pages. The coalition is concerned that the initiate would get lost among the 20 or so measures on the November citywide ballot. Campaign director Jill Stewart explained: “Our initiative is too important to be buried at the tail-end of this November’s ballot, which is beginning to look like it will be.” The group is particularly concerned about what it describes as “mega-projects” that do not conform to community plans are out of character with surrounding neighborhoods. The initiative would prohibit the City Council from approving general plan amendments for specific projects, commonly known as “spot zoning,” for a two-year period and requires the city to update its General Plan. The new version removes some constraints on the general plan update process. The initiative requires 61,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)