CP&DR News Briefs July 18, 2016: Cap-and-Trade Extension; L.A. Tenants' Rights; Coastal Commission Lawsuits; and More

Noemi Wyss on
Jul 17, 2016
The California Air Resources Board released a plan that would continue the cap-and-trade program past the 2020 expiration date to 2050. The program has been instrumental in Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to cut emissions by major companies. Money from the program pays for the high-speed rail, electric car subsidies, the sustainable communities programs by the Strategic Growth Council, and many programs in disadvantaged communities. The new plan would provide links with a similar program in Canada, align with federal clean power standards, and be a mechanism to meet Brown’s aggressive GHG reduction targets through 2030. The cap-and-trade program is currently facing many political and legal challenges: such as the argument that it is an unconstitutional tax because it passed in 2006 with a majority vote and not two-thirds. The new plan would increase allowance prices, to push companies to become more innovative and environmentally friendly. The vote by the ARB is scheduled for March 2017.

Los Angeles Launches Tenants’ Rights Campaign
Amid the City of Los Angeles’ housing affordability crisis, Mayor Eric Garcetti launched a campaign to make tenants living under the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance aware of their rights. Called Home for Renters, the campaign is organized through the L.A. Housing and Community Investment Department (HCIDLA). There are around 624,000 units in L.A. that are covered by rent stabilization, meaning the rent can only increase 3 percent each year. While one in two L.A. families lives in an apartment subject to RSO, only a third of those families understand the ordinance. This new campaign will close the information gap by reaching out to vulnerable neighborhoods with advertisements, door-hangers, informational pamphlets, and online resources to tenants and landlords. The campaign was designed by Garcetti’s Innovation Team and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies which helps to find new, innovative approaches to growing concerns in L.A. communities.

Lawsuits Piling Up Against Coastal Commission
The California Coastal Commission is facing four separate lawsuits for allegedly illegal secret communications between developers and Coastal Commissioners. The cases, each brought by different individuals and advocacy groups, include a 1950s-era resort in Aliso Canyon, the South Silver Shoals housing project in Pismo Beach, work-live rental units for artists in Laguna Beach, and a storage facility for radioactive waste at San Onofre nuclear plant. These all involve ex-parte communications -- third-party communications between developers and commissioners that are supposed to be revealed publicly. Commissioner Wendy Mitchell allegedly had coaching sessions and private emails with the Aliso Canyon project developer. Coastal Commission attorneys say the emails were forwarded by Mitchell to the rest of the staff and therefore were properly disclosed. A similar situation occurred in Pismo Beach and Laguna Beach, with commissioners being accused of not reporting meetings with developers correctly. The San Onofre lawsuit involved 15 ex-parte communications between commissioners and Southern California Edison on location to store the radioactive fuel pellets. These cases are occurring while a law banning ex-parte communications makes its way through the legislature.

Bike Share Finally Arrives in Los Angeles
After several false starts over the years, the City of Los Angeles has implemented its first bike-sharing program, which aims to connect Metro bus and rail passengers to thousand of bicycles across the county. The launch of 1,000 Metro bicycles at 65 stations throughout downtown cost $11 million. The system uses the same bus or train fare card- TAP, which makes it the first bike-share program in the country being operated by a transit agency. The rental will cost $3.50 for 30 minutes and will help with commuters “first mile, last mile” connections. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)

Grand Jury Slams San Diego Bike Share Program
Meanwhile, the San Diego County Metropolitan Transit System is being accused of refusing to support the city’s bike-sharing program. Managed by DecoBike, the system was launched in 2013 and cost $8 million to build kiosks and other required infrastructure. A grand jury found that MTS as well as beach communities has failed to expand the bike-share program as intended. "...[W]hile kiosks are located throughout the urban core, they are not co-located with transit stops, which is crucial to the program’s goal of solving the 'last mile' issue and connecting to public transportation," reads the May 2016 grand jury report, according to the San Diego Reader. MTS claims that concerns about safety in many of the narrow streets where trolley stations are located have stalled expansion. Mission Beach and Pacific Beach have been hesitant because of potential loss in revenue to bike and beach rental shops. DecoBike says these two types of bike rentals are fundamental different and no record of revenue loss has been shown by any shops.

ARB Holding Statewide Meetings on Climate Change Action Plan
The Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, in cooperation with the Air Resources Board, is holding a series of meetings across the state to hear stakeholder concerns and gather input on air pollution and California’s Climate Change Action Plan. The EJAC consists of representatives from communities most affected by poor air pollution, primarily minority or low-income populations. Input for this Scoping Plan is a requirement of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 that aims to cut GHG emissions by 40 percent. The first meeting was July 11 in San Bernardino, San Diego July 14, Oakland July 19, Wilmington July 25, South Los Angeles July 26, Fresno, Modesto, and Bakersfield July 28 and Sacramento July 29.
Report: San Francisco Pursues Code Violations
A San Francisco Examiner report finds that in San Francisco, building code violations are followed up by city officials more often than in most other major cities in the U.S. Violations range from lack of hot water and heat to rodents and mold. This was tracked by a report written by the Department of Building Inspection from 2012-2015. In those three years there were 36,466 housing code violations which means the housing inspector confirmed the complaint in their reports and cited the owner for the violation: 88 percent of these violations were corrected by the landlord. San Francisco has such a high percentage of correction because of the follow-up steps the department takes. The DBI looked at nearly 24 cities across the country and San Francisco was the only city that tracked its complaint online, held hearings for noncompliance and issues liens to collect outstanding penalties.

Updates & Quick Hits 
A group of Central Valley land owners will redraft and reintroduce a proposal to divert high speed rail bond funds to water storage projects for 2018. The initiative will make domestic and irrigation the state’s highest priority for water use, giving the farmers in the Central Valley stronger legal standing.

The California Urban Rivers Grant Program has opened the first round of its grant cycle. There will be five technical assistance workshops: Sacramento July 13, Los Angeles July 25, San Jose July 29, San Diego August 2, and Redding August 9. Online applications are due October 3.

A proposal for a new football stadium for the San Diego Chargers gathered enough signatures to appear on the November ballot. Their initiative would raise city’s tax on hotels from 12.5 to 16.5 percent to pay for the $1.8 billion stadium and convention center.

A study by think tank Transit Center found that Los Angeles will get the most return for investments through prioritizing projects serving walkable neighborhoods such as Hollywood and downtown L.A. Additionally, bus shelters are important in improving the riders experience and L.A. is lagging in installing hundreds of shelters over the last 15 years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given a $3 million loan to the Community Revitalization and Development Corporation that will help build 58 affordable apartments in Bakersfield intended to house migrant farm workers. Five other California cities will receive $3 million as well: Woodland, Sukiah, McFarland, Greenfield and Calexico.

The City of Carson is planning to build an outlet shopping center on the former landfill site that was bypassed as the potential home of a football stadium for the Raiders and/or Chargers. The City Council voted to begin negotiations with Macerich Real Estate Co. to develop a portion of the 157-acre site.

A former member of Westminster’s planning commission, Dave Phuong Dinh Vo, was arraigned on charges of soliciting and receiving a $15,000 bribe for helping a business owner get a liquor license. FBI officials investigated the case against Vo, whose charges carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The Monrovia City Council voted, 5-0, to approve a new bicycle master plan. The plan includes 3.7 miles of bike paths, 5.1 miles of bike lanes, 17.9 miles of sharrowed bike routes, and 7.1 miles for further study for protected bike lanes.

AEG has proposed to build a sports and entertainment arena in the now Seaport Village in downtown San Diego. The privately funded development will cost around $1.4 billion and include three hotels, retail and restaurant space, and office space. No team has been identified for the arena, which would host concerts and other events.