Headline Story

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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Thomas, Kennedy Seek to Revisit San Remo Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court declined on April 25 to take a case from Connecticut that would have overturned the 1985 case Williamson County Regional Planning Comm’n v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U. S. 172, a pre-First English case in which the court ruled that property owners seeking to a regulatory taking case in federal court have to first ensure that all administrative remedies at the local or state level are exhausted and then seek compensation through whatever mechanism is provided by the state.

However, Justices Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy dissented from the denial of certiorari in Arrigoni Enterprises v. Town of Durham, saying they wanted to use the case to revisit the questions about Williamson County raised in the dissent in the 2005 Supreme Court case, San Remo Hotel v. San Francisco, 545 U.S. 323. That case involving a dispute going back decades over payment of an in-lieu fee or provision of replacement units when a hotel is converted from residential to tourist use. 

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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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California Needs ‘Minimum Housing’ to Go Along with Minimum Wage

Sexy-sporty clothing brand American Apparel has long been one of the Los Angeles’ most beloved, and most controversial, corporate citizens. It is known for paying decent wages and treating its workers well.
When it easily could have outsourced jobs to Asia, it has also resolutely kept its main factory in Los Angeles, occupying a muscular, seven-story industrial building on the southeast edge of downtown since 2000. American Apparel has proudly championed social-justice causes, including immigration reform and gay rights, and assured consumers that they are buying “sweatshop-free” garments made by well treated workers.
They’re just the sort of workers who might – might – benefit from the forthcoming increase in California’s minimum wage. If only they – and every other low-wage worker in Los Angeles – had decent roofs over their heads.

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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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.)

County Can't Undermine Dispensary Referendum, Court Rules

In repealing a medical marijuana ordinance that a referendum sought to overturn, the Kern County Board of Supervisors erred in also repealing the underlying ordinance that the referendum’s backers were seeking to reinstate, the Fifth District Court of Appeal has ruled. It’s the third appellate ruling in a medical marijuana zoning case to be issued in the last month.

In 2009, Kern County adopted an ordinance effectively allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in commercial areas. Two years later, however, the county adopted a new ordinance banning medical marijuana dispensaries everywhere in the county. When confronted with a referendum to overturn the 2011 ordinance, the county chose not to place the referendum on the ballot but, rather, repeal the ordinance as the referendum would have, as is permitted under the Elections Code. However, the county also repealed the 2009 ordinance, which had the effect of creating a ban on dispensaries.

In striking down the county’s decision, the Fifth District concluded that under the Elections Code, a local elected body “must revoke the protested ordinance in all its parts and must not take additional action that has the practical effect of implementing the essential feature of the protested ordinance.”

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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.

Fetishizing Families: Review of 'The Human City'

I would like to buy Joel Kotkin a beer. I vote we try a gastropub downtown. Or maybe a rooftop lounge. I’ll take the subway, and he can take a taxi. That way, neither of us has to drive.

CP&DR News Briefs, March 28, 2016: Vision Zero in Sacramento; L.A. Approves Controversial High Rises; SCAG RTP/SCS; and More

Along with other cities in California, Sacramento is joining the Vision Zero movement to eliminate bicycle and pedestrian fatalities on city streets. These cooperative movements combine government, advocacy groups, residents and others to make streets safer for all users. In Sacramento approximately 130 people died in crashes between 2010-2014, including 48 pedestrians and 13 cyclists.

Insight: Will Upland Ruling Allow Stadiums -- And Others -- Evade Two-Thirds Vote?

So, why does a court ruling on a medical marijuana ban in Upland affect the Chargers ability to build a new stadium in San Diego?

For the same reason that construction of a Wal-Mart in Sonora affects the Rams ability to build a new stadium in Inglewood, which is:

The apparently magical power of the initiative process to end-run two generations of laws that make it more difficult to approve new buildings and adopt new taxes in California.

City Doesn't Inherit Redevelopment Housing Obligations, Appellate Court Rules

In the latest chapter of a long-running legal battle over affordable housing and redevelopment in Fontana, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled that the city is not required to take on the former redevelopment agency’s affordable housing obligations.

“Under the scheme adopted by the Legislature under AB 26 [the law abolishing redevelopment], the liabilities of dissolved RA’s [redevelopment agencies] are limited to the assets transferred to successor agencies,” wrote Acting Presiding Justice Patricia Benke for a unanimous three-judge panel. “There is nothing in AB 26, or later amendments, that would exend that liability beyond an RA’s assets to municipalities and their general funds.” Prior to the dissolution of redevelopment agencies, Benke noted, low- and moderate-income liabilities “were never the liabilities of municipalities and their general funds.”

Fontana’s redevelopment agency had a long and litigious history in dealing with state affordable housing requirements. As laid out in a previous case, Fontana Redevelopment Agency v. Torres, 153 Cal.App.4th 902 (2007), the agency did not meet its low- and moderate-income housing obligation – in large part because of a complicated 1992 agreement with a developer that was a predecessor in interest to an entity now known as Ten-Ninety Ltd. 

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Upland Mobile Dispensary Ordinance Not Subject to CEQA, Court Rules

In the second medical marijuana ruling out of the City of Upland in the last week, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled that Upland’s ban on mobile medical marijuana dispensaries is not subject to the California Environmental Quality Act. 

Among other things, the court concluded that the assertions by the Union of Medical Marijuana Patients (UMMP) about the potential impact of the ban – for example, that medical marijuana patients would have to drive to other cities – were too speculative to be considered “reasonably foreseeable” under CEQA.

Last week, the Fourth District ruled that Proposition 218 does not apply to an initiative to overturn the ban. 

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