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CP&DR News Briefs May 24, 2022: Desal Plant Rejection; Wildfire Danger; Owens Valley Historic Designation; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
May 24, 2022

Coastal Commission Officially Kills Huntington Beach Desalination Plant
The Coastal Commission officially voted against Poseidon Water's desalination plant proposal in Huntington Beach, handing a victory to several environmental activist groups and many Huntington Beach residents after a decades-long dispute. Though the plan was intended as a solution to magnifying drought, the commission staff's recommendation against the plant which spurred the department's permit rejection will likely put an end to the $1.4 billion project. The commission voted in opposition to Gov. Gavin Newsom's push for desalination plants and argued that the project would have generated high costs and proved risky atop an earthquake fault and with sea-level rise. Those in support of the commission's vote noted that the project would have further commodified water infrastructure instead of pushing for effective regulation and conservation.

Number of Homes Threatened by Wildfire to Grow Sixfold by 2052
The number of properties at risk of wildfire devastation is expected to multiply by six 30 years from now, according to new data from First Street Foundation that considers just the impact of global warming on increased risk. The data suggests that the 100,000 properties currently at a 1% or greater annual chance of impact would grow to 600,000 by 2052, assuming development remains constant. In California, over 4.6 million properties currently have a .03% or greater chance of facing wildfire burden, a figure that would rise by 7.6% three decades from now to 5.5 million. Risk is expected to increase particularly in Sonoma (41.6%), Napa, Marin, Yolo, and Santa Barbara, and California will likely be home to the largest number of properties facing a 1% or greater annual risk.

Tribes Seek Historic Designation for 186 Square Miles in Owens Valley
Five Indigenous tribes who have long lived on Owens Valley land have nominated 186 square miles of the dried up lakebed for recognition in the California Register of Historical Resources and the National Register of Historic Places. Noting the region's history of plentiful resources for the Indigenous population prior to the devastating impacts of colonialism and Los Angeles's secretive land acquisition operation to construct an aqueduct in the 1900s, tribal members intend for the nomination to reflect both "beauty and suffering." If approved, the Patsiata Historic District would become the largest in-state National Register site, spanning 119,303 acres. The National Register identification would not require preservation but would necessitate attention to land use impacts on tribal and cultural resources.

Redevelopment of Concord Naval Base Threatened Again
Untenable infrastructure costs may shut down a plan to bring 13,000 homes to the Bay Area, the largest proposed housing development in the region. Developer Concord First Partners, which intends to reimagine the Concord Naval Weapons Station into a housing community, noted that, in addition to rising costs, land use requirements and community commitments are making the project unfeasible for completion without extensions and other guarantees. The team has requested a 90-day extension of the negotiating agreement, an extra year for project approval, and reimbursements from the city if its project does not come to fruition. Concord First Partners also asks that the agreement over the cost of the land and time of transfer move to the beginning of the approval process. The potential complication is yet another setback after many years and several efforts to redevelop the site. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Quick Hits & Updates 

Attorney General Rob Bonta is asking a court to put a hold on the sale of Angel Stadium to the company of Angels owner Arte Moreno after an FBI affidavit has put Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu under investigation for corruption, which may make the uncompleted $320 million sale illegal. The investigation proposes that Sidhu intended to solicit campaign contributions in exchange for completing the sale.

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla and Representative Tony Cárdenas have announced their support for the Department of Transportation's allocation of $1 billion in federal funds to the $3.635 billion East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor light rail line project as part of the Federal Transit Administration's Expedited Project Delivery. The 6.7-mile line will connect Pacoima to Van Nuys with 11 stops and two connections along the way.

The state Department of General Services and the Department of Housing and Community Development have awarded two blocks in Downtown San Diego to Michaels Organization, which will construct affordable and market-rate housing and office and retail space. The move is a part of Gov. Gavin Newsom's Excess Land for Affordable Housing Executive Order.

California will acquire 2,100 acres known as Dos Rios Ranch in Stanislaus County, near the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers, to establish a new state park intended to reduce flood and rehabilitate the area. The last time the state established a new park was in 2009.

After a plan to develop Richmond's Point Molate fell through, the Guidiville Rancheria of California tribe will now purchase the 270-acre site for $400. While the tribe's plan is unknown, it originally intended to construct a mega casino.

The City of Ojai, the County of Ventura, and the clothing brand Patagonia are included in a group of several organizations who are pushing back against the U.S. Forest Service's plan to thin the Los Padres National Forest's Pine Mountain. The federal agency argues that its proposal would reduce firefighting risks, while plaintiffs are concerned about the project's damage to the region's culture and ecosystem.

Los Angeles' Exposition Park Master Plan has achieved the gold award for Urban Design Concept. Designed by Torti Gallas + Partners, the proposal is championed for its open communication with community members, its desire to improve pedestrian mobility, and its dedication to the site as significant for culture and climate resiliency.

The UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies released a new report that recommends a strategy for implementing congestion pricing while alleviating impacts on low-income residents: using revenue from the rolls to financially assist low-income residents. The goal of the policy is to decrease auto dependency and reduce emissions while reducing inequity.

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