CP&DR News Summary, April 22, 2014: Budget and Big-Picture Edition

What's coming down in Sacramento this month is more politics than precipitation: bills at all levels of realism, tough reexaminations of old water deals, horsetrading and litigation on big projects, and calls from Gov. Brown to revise the "Rainy Day Fund" measure on this November's ballot in case of more dry years. The LA Times' George Skelton called it "fighting season": http://lat.ms/QAaTb2 . Here's just a little of the mid-spring wrangle, in links:

Oakland Eyes New Stadiums to Keep Pro Teams

Stadium proposal is battling stadium proposal in Oakland, a mid-sized city with limited resources that wants to keep its name on big-time sports marquees. So far, professional sports team owners appear to be tilting toward a proposal to build a new football stadium, and possibly a new venue for baseball, on the current Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site.

Pretty Much All Unhappy News About Emissions

It has been a busy few weeks in toxics and nuisances. Southern California air quality enforcers battled lead, arsenic, chromium-6, red jalapeños and chicken manure. The Bay Area AQMD adopted a new greenhouse gas control program. A study found air pollution is worse in communities of color. Another found further evidence that pollution from traffic is bad for your heart. The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments on rail yard emissions, the state water board proposed three new TMDL standards, and the state public health department proposed new chromium 6 rules for public drinking water. All over the state, activists and local governments worked to discourage fracking in local wells, and local officials from Berkeley to Sacramento grew concerned about rail movements of oil from fracking. Vice Magazine accused Chevron of founding a local news site to buffer its image, and a crowd turned out to debate the EIR for Chevron's proposed plant upgrade to treat higher-sulfur crude.

Barrio Logan measures head for June ballot

A pair of local ballot measures supported by the Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association will remain on San Diego's June 3 city ballot thanks to an April 4 court decision.

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EIR overturned for slim 'urban decay' mitigation

When a new shopping center at the edge of town might skim off customers from existing businesses, how far can a planning department go to protect against "urban decay"?

TRPA wins Tahoe plan update approval

A summary judgment ruling April 7 by U.S. District Judge John Mendez upheld the Tahoe Regional Plan Update, endorsing a new regulatory approach to protecting Lake Tahoe that emphasizes incentives for more centralized, better mitigated development. His decision helps to ratify a high-level accord that in 2011 and 2012 resolved political tensions between California and Nevada over shared governance of Lake Tahoe.

Fish & Wildlife complaint filed vs San Jose on encampment

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has placed its water quality concerns in direct conflict with the state’s affordable housing shortage by filing a complaint with the Regional Water Quality Control Board against the City of San Jose over its Coyote Creek encampment, unofficial home to 150 or more people who reportedly live without access to basic utilities.

Solar payback rates locked in for 20 years: is that enough?

In an outcome more helpful to residential than institutional customers, the Public Utilities Commission has interpreted the AB 327 solar legislation of 2013 to grant a 20-year extension of the current Net Energy Metering (NEM) payback deal for solar panel owners who send energy back into the grid.

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"Measuring Sprawl" finds California metros denser than many

An academic study that gauges sprawl in cities nationwide has placed San Francisco very high in its compactness rankings ─ one alternate standard, buried deep in the report, actually ranks it first. It also rates Los Angeles above a surprising number of other cities, considering it's stereotyped as suffering from low-rise growth.

CP&DR News Summary, April 8, 2014: SF legalizes in-law units, eminent domain upheld for new Kings arena, and more

As Phil Frank's "Farley" cartoon said years ago, "If in-laws are outlawed, only outlaws will have in-laws!" Phil Frank didn't live to see it, but the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has

San Francisco won't require EIR on tech commuter shuttles

National and local writers have been all over the San Francisco Supervisors' April 1 decision to grant a Class 6 categorical exemption from CEQA to a pilot program for tech industry commuter shuttles, so instead of retelling the whole saga here we've gathered some links to CEQA and policy aspects of the story:

The city's pilot program has been allowing the "Google Bus" and other tech industry shuttles to pick up and drop off employees at public bus stops in exchange for a payment to the city of $1 every time a bus makes a stop.

Rodeo's CEQA exemption allowed despite alleged creek pollution risk

An appellate court has upheld a CEQA exemption for the 2011 deputy sheriffs' charity rodeo at the Santa Cruz County fairgrounds in Watsonville. Although it was the first rodeo held there in a generation, the court held a categorical exemption was proper for the event on the grounds that, environmentally speaking, the rodeo was much a "normal operation" as any other livestock or equestrian event at that venue.

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CP&DR News Summary, April 1, 2014: expanding Clean Water Act's application; bills that could save Jurupa Valley's incorporation

A rule proposed March 25 by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers could broaden the definition of "waters of the United States" subject to Clean Water Act regulation. Among much else, that could expand the areas where developers need Section 404 permits from the Corps to go forward, in a parallel permitting process in addition to local government.

Contentiously briefed Tahoe dispute rests with the court now

A challenge by dissident conservationists to the Lake Tahoe Regional Plan Update is in the hands of U.S. Judge John A. Mendez following oral arguments in Sacramento March 26.

The arguments put a bookend to a fierce, prolonged exchange of court papers heavy with mutual exasperation, between parties who may disagree more utterly than most.