For many cities that have endured the painful process of dissolving their redevelopment agencies, the bloodletting has begun anew.
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.
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.
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.
In a state with the likes of Yosemite, Griffith, Balboa, and Golden Gate, the development of a neighborhood park scarcely larger than a Trader Joe’s parking lot may not seem particularly noteworthy. But the pocket parks, community gardens, and micro-recreation areas of the City of Los Angeles’ 50 Parks Initiative are intended to be landmarks in some of the state’s neediest communities.
When the upscale cafeteria-style restaurant Forage opened in Los Angeles’s Silver Lake neighborhood in early 2010, it did so with a new take on the “farm to table’” movement that’s slowly been gaining ground in California, as well as the rest of the country in recent years.
When redevelopment was first introduced in California, it included no provisions for affordable housing and instead focused solely on fighting blight. Introduced in 1976, the affordable housing set-aside – amounting to 20% of an agency’s annual tax increment – was intended to mollify critics who contended that redevelopment amounting to nothing more than a boondoggle for developers. With the governor’s successful dissolution of redevelopment, affordable housing now counts among the most lamented collateral damage.
Judging by the likes of Oakland, Berkeley, and, of course, San Francisco, a plan to encourage density, transit use, and environmentalism in the Bay Area might seem redundant. But these vibrant urban centers are just small elements in the sprawling, nine-county region that is the subject of the fourth and final Sustainable Communities Strategy to be drafted for California’s major urban areas.
Over the past month, California cities have been learning the fate of countless redevelopment projects—touching everything from graffiti-removal programs to nine-figure transit-oriented developments to billion-dollar stadiums. For many, the news is not good – especially now that the California Department of Finance has gotten into the act.
The definition of wetland would seem to be self-evident: wet land. If only it were that easy in California.
From vernal pools that slowly diminish in the Central Valley heat to brackish estuaries separating ocean from land, California’s topography includes some of the most varied types of wetlands imaginable. Their numbers and varieties baffle that which governmental regulations such as the federal Clean Water Act describe.