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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. 

San Diego Considers Dueling Plans to Finance Stadium, Convention Center

What do touchdowns, trade shows, room service, rivers, and dorm rooms have in common? In San Diego, quite a bit.

Spooked by the possible relocation of the San Diego Chargers football team, the city is doubling down on opportunities not only to retain the Chargers but also to pursue a host of other initiatives related to tourism and economic development. The matters may be resolved through one of two competing measures that are expected to appear on upcoming ballots.

"The Citizens Plan" could appear on the citywide ballot as early as November. Proposed by Cory Briggs, an environmental attorney famous instead for halting city projects, it would raise hotel taxes and allow the city to expand its convention center, build a new Chargers stadium, secure long-term funding to promote the city to tourists, create a new San Diego River park and hand San Diego State University an expansion opportunity. It would make way for a joint-use convention center-stadium built on 10 downtown acres, next to the Padres ballpark and across the street from the city’s existing convention center.

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Social Justice, Regional Economics at Odds in Downtown Oakland Plan

Uber has finally arrived in Oakland. Not the ride service – that’s been around for a while – but rather the company itself, which recently moved its headquarters from San Francisco to a former Sears department store. What would be a triumph of economic development for many cities is making many Oaklanders nervous. They fear that what Uber has done to the taxi industry, wealthy residents and boutique businesses might do to Oakland’s working-class heritage.
 
Partially in response to these changes, the city is finally devising a specific plan for Downtown Oakland – for the first time in the city’s history.
 
Community activists hope that the plan will strike a balance between promoting Oakland as a regional hub and protecting existing residents, many of whom are African-Americans and Latinos living below the poverty line. If any city can figure out how to use a land use plan to promote social equity, it’s Oakland. The city has not only a diverse population — socioeconomically and ethnically — but also a long history of social activism.  
 

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SGC Proposes $30 Million to Backfill Last Year's Projects, Plus Ideas to Work With MPOs

The Strategic Growth Council staff has proposed using $30 million in new money to provide additional funding for projects that didn’t make the cut or weren’t fully funded by the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program last year. 

In its staff report for next Thursday’s meeting, the SGC staff has also thrown out several additional ideas for working with the metropolitan planning organizations, including a geographical allocation of funds and MPO review and recommendation of projects. However, SGC staff isn’t recommending any particular ideas.

The SGC staff also laid out the process by which it will provide $500,000 in technical assistance to grant applicants from disadvantaged communities and align the AHSC program and the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) program and indicated that SGC and the Department of Housing & Community Development will work to incorporate issues of farmworker housing into the AHSC program.

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Enviros, Others Clash Over Desert Solar Plan

The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) has taken on the difficult task of bringing high-flown talk about renewable energy goals down, literally, to earth, in the form of land use planning. It's asking members of the energy, planning and environmental fields to cooperate in adding a new dimension to the meaning of property ownership in California's southeastern deserts. 

But it’s also running into resistance from local governments that don’t want the plan to restrict their own land use power; Imperial County, for example, has banned new solar facilities. And some environmental groups are criticizing the plan because of the potential environmental impact of large-scale solar and other renewable energy facilities. It’s an ironic clash between a governor who wants rapid progress on renewable energy and local and environmental groups who are concerned about the environmental impact of large-scale solar facilities.

Proposed Final AHSC Guidelines Would Broaden Possible TOD Funding Sites

A late-added change in proposed final guidelines for California's new cap-and-trade grant program might broaden transit-oriented development sites.

Can planners find common ground with Tea Party and property rights activists on means even if they don’t agree on ends?

This fall, California’s Strategic Growth Council will release a preliminary assessment about SB 375’s implementation to date. So now is a good time to step back and deeply reflect on how we are running public participation processes in this state, especially legislatively mandated ones. We need to consider how legislative requirements like those for the SB 375 regional planning process may help or hinder meaningful public engagement.

Redevelopment Vetoes Lead to Disappointment, Cautious Optimism

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. 

Demise of Redevelopment Leaves Scorched Earth Instead of Green Spaces

When voters in Orange County approved the creation of the 1,300-acre Orange County Great Park out of the shuttered Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, they had every reason to believe the estimated $1.2 billion cost would come, partially, from redevelopment monies. Such was the status quo in 2002.

California Shifts Towards Bike Sharing

Watch out, Copenhagen.

Like so many a rider at the back of the peleton, California cities have long lagged behind their European counterparts in their embrace of bicycling. But they are now clipping in and gearing with the dramatic arrival of bike sharing. With zero major bike-sharing systems currently in the state, no fewer than five California cities will be adopting pilot projects by mid-2013.