California

 

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. 

Californians Show Their Bravery on Climate Change

This morning, Hector Tobar, a respected Los Angeles-area commentator, personally heaped all the ecological sins of humankind on to the current residents of Los Angeles in an editorial in the New York Times, a publication that has gotten increasingly feisty about its hatred for California of late. Tobar writes:  

CP&DR News Briefs, May 18, 2015: L.A. Mobility Plan; Delta Smelt Face Extinction; Solar Power Plan Postponed

The Los Angeles Planning Commission advised the City Council to adopt the city's proposed Mobility Plan 2035 (pdf), update the land use element of 35 community plans, and adopt an ordinance to implement new street standards and complete street principles.

CP&DR News Briefs, May 11, 2015: New Challenge to Prop. 13; L.A. Metro Considers $120M Funding Measure;

Another group has arisen in the long-running battle to challenge Proposition 13. A coalition of several public employees unions and other interest groups, the Make it Fair organization seeks to place a measure that would upend Prop. 13 on the 2016 statewide ballot. The proposed measure would seek a “split-roll” solution, taxing commercial properties at market rates while leaving residential tax rates frozen according to purchase prices. Prop. 13’s freeze on property taxes has long been cited as a complicating factor in local government finance, particularly for school districts. Supporters of the measure say that its passage could result in an additional $9 billion in annual tax revenue. “California is losing billions of dollars every year thanks to problems in the law that allow some big corporations and wealthy commercial property owners to avoid paying their fair share,” campaign spokesman Anthony Thigpenn said in a statement quoted by the Sacramento Bee. “By continuing to raise taxes, the state is forcing businesses out of California, and they’re taking our jobs with them,” Rex Hine of California Business Properties Association told the Bee. 

CP&DR News Briefs, May 4, 2015: Brown Sets 2030 Greenhouse Gas Targets; OPR Releases Draft VMT Guidelines; Caltrans Management Plan, and More

Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order to establish a California greenhouse gas reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any government in North America to reduce dangerous carbon emissions over the next decade and a half. It also orders the state to prepare for adaptation to climate change. California is on track to meet or exceed the current target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as established in the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32). California’s new emission reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 will make it possible to reach the ultimate goal of reducing emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050. This is in line with the scientifically established levels needed in the U.S. to limit global warming below 2 degrees Celsius – the warming threshold at which scientists say there will likely be major climate disruptions such as super droughts and rising sea levels.“With this order, California sets a very high bar for itself and other states and nations, but it’s one that must be reached – for this generation and generations to come,” said  Brown in a statement. (See CP&DR commentary by Josh Stephens and Bill Fulton on the order's potential impact on statewide Sustainable Communities Strategies.)

Complete Streets Movement Gains Momentum in California

Back in the early days of email, before Facebook and Buzzfeed, people used to send jokes around as chain messages. “Forwards” we sometimes called them. My favorite of these forwards was “Ways to Confuse Your Roommate” (here’s a version of it). My favorite way: “Go to the gym. Use the multipurpose room. For just one purpose."

I’ve often thought about streets the same way. We usually use them for just one purpose, especially in California. And yet, no one is ever baffled. 

The complete streets movement is changing this attitude. As most planners know, complete streets have been gaining popularity for the past few years, as the infrastructural equivalent of smart growth. Inspired by the Dutch woonerf and, before that, by the simple reality of multi-use, pre-automobile streets, complete streets seek to accommodate a diverse array of transportation modes all in the same space. The movement contends that feet and cars can peacefully coexist, and that streets can be places that people inhabit rather than pass through. 

CP&DR News Briefs, April 27, 2015: Ruling Disrupts Water-Saving Plans; Cappio Leaves HCD; and More

Water agencies cannot charge water users incrementally more per gallon of use following a ruling by the Fourth District Court of Appeals that cited a 1996 law prohibiting government agencies from overcharging for services. The suit came about after San Juan Capistrano charged nearly four times as much per unit of water for users in the highest tier to provide an incentive to conserve, but failed to show that the water was that expensive to deliver. Governor Jerry Brown wanted to use the rates to save water and create strong disincentives for wealthier residents. Other water districts must now review the ruling to make sure that their rates are in step with the court, while still encouraging conservation during the drought. Two-thirds of water districts use some form of tiered water pricing, but now agencies will have to show that hikes are directly tied to the cost of water, according to the court.

CP&DR News Briefs, April 20, 2015: Marin Farmers Negotiate with Coastal Commission; Santa Monica Down-Zones General Plan; Guadelupe Considers Disincorporation, and More

Marin County officials and state Coastal Commissioners agreed to take more time to hash out the nuances of new regulatory proposals that county officials think could impose too many constraints on local farmers even as the Commission seeks to limit the impacts of agricultural activities in the coastal zone. Locals were worried that new regulations - detailed in hundreds of pages of complicated state analysis - would require farmers to get permits to switch agricultural uses, from ranching to grape-growing, for instance, and would tighten rules on building under the Coastal Act. At issue as well are requirements such as setbacks and the allowed ratio of buildings to acres of farmland that a farmer owns. Farmers expressed concerns that overly tight regulations could put them out of business. “Too many rules and regulations leads to outlaw behavior, so getting it right” is essential, Steve Kinsey, chairman of the Commission, told the Marin Independent Journal. The delay in implementing regulations comes as the county withdrew its coastal development plan, giving the sides more time to reach an agreement. The county is expected to resubmit the plan in the fall. 

CP&DR News Briefs, April 13, 2015: L.A. Sustainability 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 Briefs, April 6, 2015: MPO's Question Grant Program; L.A. Adopts Ambitious Health Element; O.C. Told to Build More Housing, and more

Following the announcement two weeks ago of the finalists for $120 million worth of grants through the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities grant program, two metropolitan planning organizations in southern California are calling foul. The five-county region covered by the Southern California Association of Governments, by far the largest metropolitan planning organization in the state, had only 12 of 54 finalists. By contrast, Alameda County alone had eight finalists.