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CP&DR News Briefs December 26, 2016: L.A. Ballot Measure Update; Offshore Fracking Controversy; 'Best Performing Cities;' and More

Noemi Wyss on
Dec 27, 2016

A report by Beacon Economics estimates that the City of Los Angeles would lose $70 million per year in sales tax, property tax, and other taxes as well as 12,000 jobs if Measure S passes. The measure, known also as the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, will be on the March ballot. Supporters the measure, which would place restrictions on development and require updating of the city’s community plans, have raised more than $1.4 million and those opposed at least $975,000. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti will campaign against the measure because he is concerned it will threaten the city’s economy.

Meanwhile, Opponents of Measure S have been sued for submitting inaccurate statements for a city voter guide. According to the lawsuit the ballot information cited “independent economic studies” showing lost jobs and tax revenue if the measure were to pass. Supporters of the measure say the city needs to crack down on “mega-developments” that have hurt the city’s quality of life and increased traffic. While opponents say the measure would worsen LA’s housing shortage and hurt the economy. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)

State Officials Object to Feds’ Endorsement of Offshore Fracking
California State Attorney General Kamala Harris and the California Coastal Commission have filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s finding of fracking off the coast being environmentally safe. The lawsuit in federal court says the Department of Interior failed to take a “hard look” at the environmental effects of 22 offshore oil platforms that use techniques including acid and hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking. Two environmental groups sued over the processes last year, and the federal government agreed to do a new environmental assessment. The government found no significant environmental impact. The lawsuit challenges the assessment, and demands a more extensive evaluation. The Obama administration announced it will block oil and natural gas drilling in parts of the Artic and Atlantic Oceans. Gov. Jerry Brown, along with Democrats in the U.S. Senate from Oregon and Washington, sent letters to the White House to make similar protections of the California Coast. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)

California Scores Well in Report of ‘Best Performing Cities’
Santa Monica-based Milken Institute Center for Jobs and Human Capital issued a report of Best Performing Cities (pdf), highlighting which American cities have created and sustained jobs. Six of the 25 spots were secured by California cities. Included is San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara as the top-performing large metro in the nation, San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco as fourth, Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley as 18th, Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine as 19th, Santa Rosa as 20th, and San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande as 25th.

L.A. Adopts Renters’ Rights Ordinances
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an ordinance that requires tenants facing eviction from rent-controlled apartments to be fully informed of their rights to relocation compensation. These costs range from $7,900 to $19,700 and provide renters sufficient time to move out. The new law requires landlords to tell tenants, prior to reaching a buyout agreement, that there is a more formal process with the city in which they may be entitle to more relocation money and protections than they initially realized. Los Angeles has roughly 624,000 rent-controlled units house about half of LA families. Garcetti also signed the Tenant Buyout Ordinance. This key addition to the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance is another step toward curbing the housing affordability crisis. The new ordinance required landlords to file buyout agreements with the City, so that staff can better monitor the process and permits renters to withdraw from the agreement within 30 days.

Los Angeles County Growth Rate Slows
Los Angeles County saw a larger overall increase to its population than any other California county over the past year. LA County grew by more than 43,000 people, accounting for 15 percent of the state’s overall population increase according to the state Department of Finance. However L.A. County has 10.2 million people, whereas second-place San Diego County only has 3.3 million. LA County had the smallest population increase since the 2010 census, resulting from a negative net migration. This meant about 15,000 more people left the area than moved into it but the natural increase from birthrate was about 59,000.

Sustainable Planning Grant Deadline Extended
The Strategic Growth Council (SGC) in partnership with the Office of Planning and Research announced that the deadline for applications to the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and Incentives Program: Best Practices Pilot, Guidelines and Application has been extended to February 9. The program is an effort to support local land use planning related to climate and the State’s statutory planning priorities. SCPGIP funding in the amount of $250,000 will be available for applicants to apply for up to $50,000. These grants will support the development and/or implementation of a specific portion of a land use plan, land protection or management practice, or development project, that targets sustainable development and the State’s climate policies. This small grant is not intended to fund a long-range plan or project in its entirety. Proposed applications must support local implementation of state policies, with a focus on creating more resilient communities through climate adaptation and mitigation.

Quick Hits & Updates

Sierra Watch has filed a lawsuit against Placer County for the Squaw Valley’s expansion plan alleged violation of CEQA. The plan includes 1,500 rooms, 300,000 square-feet of commercial space and a 90,000 square-feet “mountain adventure center.” The supervisors heard from about 100 speakers during an all-day hearing. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)

The Bay Area job market reached its lowest unemployment level in 15 years. In East Bay the unemployment rate is 4 percent, South Bay 3.5 percent, and San Francisco-San Mateo area it is 3 percent.

The Orange Country Transportation Authority recently approved a conservation plan that protects more than 1,300 acres of wilderness from development. This is part of the Measure M Freeway Environmental Mitigation Program. The certification of the final conservation plans, known as the Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan and associated EIR is the culmination of nearly 10-year effort.

Caltrans will begin selling homes, apartments, and lots acquired in the 1950s and 1960s for a proposed extension of the 710 Freeway between Pasadena and Alhambra. The 6.2-mile project has been stalled by decades of litigation and legislation stalled the 6.2-mile project and continues to face fierce opposition. Tenants of the 42 properties that will be sold first, have three months to respond to the agency if they have any interest in buying their homes. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)

State investigators cleared California Coastal Commissioner Erik Howell of allegations that he improperly voted for a housing project in Pismo Beach after receiving a $1,000 campaign donation from someone with an interest in the development. The Fair Political Practices Commission announced it found insufficient evidence that state law was violated. Howell is also a Pismo Beach city councilmember.

Huntington Beach Planning Commissioner Michael Hoskinson resigned after a comment he made online denigrating Islam. As City Mayor Delgleize explained, “If you’re an elected official, or appointed by an elected official, you are held to a higher standard.”

The METRANS Transportation Center at USC was recently awarded a $12.5 million grant from the US Department of Transportation to study and solve a range of transportation concerns, from issues with mobility to challenges that affect public access. Leading the Pacific Southwest Region University Transportation Center, the new center spans four states and seven other research institutions in the Southwest.

Kern County Supervisors dissolved the County Parks and Recreation Department and moved its staff and functions into the General Services Department. Other county departments have been merged into mega-departments in recent years, creating the Public Health Services Department and Public Works.

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