Coastal Commission Imposes $1 Million Fine on Coastal Resort
The Coastal Commission unanimously approved a significant settlement with San Diego's Paradise Point resort, addressing Coastal Act violations that hindered public access to city-owned waterfront property for years. The settlement, estimated at $4.1 million, involves a $1 million fine, the installation of over 70 new coastal access signs throughout the 52-acre resort, additional public restrooms near the beach, and a $500,000 outreach program providing free overnight stays to lower-income students and families. It also ensures an uninterrupted pathway across the bayfront. Concerns were expressed about potential future violations despite the settlement's cost, with some commissioners questioning the adequacy of the $1 million fine. The resort, owned by Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, is now free to proceed with plans to reposition as a Margaritaville Resort.

Navy Agrees to Return Property to Port of San Diego
The Port of San Diego and the U.S. Navy have reached a historic agreement after 38 years, wherein which the Navy will vacate a 3.4-acre waterfront property in exchange for $5.75 million in goods and services. The deal will return prime real estate to the port for redevelopment, potentially including hotels and public amenities. The Navy's 100-year lease on the property will end before the year's end, pending approval by Port of San Diego Commissioners. The site currently hosts outdated Navy buildings but is surrounded by public attractions and hotels. Once the Navy exits, plans for additional park space, hotels, and retail shops are in place, with a local San Diego developer given the first opportunity for redevelopment.

Climate Change Exacerbates Wildfire Danger by 25%
According to a new study published from Breakthrough Institute, a Berkeley-based think tank, climate change bolsters the risk of severe wildfire growth by 25%, and it will continue to influence severe wildfires in the state for decades to come. The research studies exactly how temperatures impact individual fires statewide, and predicts the influence of climate change on the behavior of fires in the future, analyzing almost 18,000 fires in California between 2003 and 2023. Over that time, climate change has increased the risk of deadly daily wildfires by an average of 25%. Researchers further estimate climate change will increase the risk of extreme wildfire growth by an average of 59% by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions reach net zero by 2070. If emissions continue to increase until 2050, climate change poses an average risk of 90%.

Los Angeles Establishes Priority Transit Projects for 2028 Olympics
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is preparing for the 2028 Olympic Games by seeking Federal funding for 15 projects to manage the anticipated increase in tourists. These projects aim to address transportation and mobility challenges. Metro may potentially double its bus fleet by borrowing buses and staff from transit agencies, primarily within California. They plan to establish a Games Routes Network to efficiently connect event venues with transportation hubs using existing and planned ExpressLanes and bus-only corridors. The initiative includes the creation of mobility hubs, micro-mobility options, and first/last-mile connections for visitors. Additionally, they will address street-running operations and traffic signal improvements while considering plans for grade separation. Lastly, Inglewood's automated people mover system and Metrolink's SCORE program were deemed essential components of the preparations.

CPD&R Coverage: Planning in the Central Valley
In that time, the eight-county San Joaquin Valley region’s population has grown to an estimated 4.3 million. It has gained a campus of the University of California, and it is, slowly, gaining High-Speed Rail. And, though agriculture dominates the region, it is far from rural, including major cities like Fresno, medium-sized cities like Modesto and Merced, and small towns like Taft. They and other communities are feeling housing pressures, especially in light of dramatic price spikes in coastal metropolitan areas, while serving populations that are dramatically lower-income and more predominantly blue-collar than in their coastal counterparts, including some of the highest countywide poverty rates in California. To mark the occasion of this week's conference of the California Chapter of the American Planning Association, CP&DR’s Josh Stephens spoke with four planners in the Central Valley to find out about the Valley's priorities and challenges.

Quick Hits & Updates

BART is set to launch a plan aimed at improving service and boosting ridership. The plan includes reducing wait times to a maximum of 20 minutes, increasing evening service by 50% seven days a week, shortening the length of trains to improve safety and resource allocation, and utilizing only the "fleet of the future" trains for the base schedule to enhance efficiency and reduce costs, all in an effort to avoid a looming fiscal crisis.

Philanthropist and Jeff Bezos's ex-wife MacKenzie Scott donated $20 million to the San Francisco Community Land Trust, a nonprofit focused on affordable housing, enabling the organization to accelerate property acquisition and expand its reach to address the city's affordable housing crisis. This significant gift will allow the trust to triple its staff, acquire more buildings, and transform them into permanently affordable homes, benefiting communities of color and helping renters become homeowners.

A Silicon Valley tech leader is selling his 14,100-acre Rana Creek Ranch in Carmel Valley to the Wildlands Conservancy for $35 million, with plans to create a public nature preserve. The conservancy intends to open the scenic property to the public for recreational activities, while the Esselen Tribe plans to purchase a portion of the land for cultural and environmental purposes, including controlled burns and recreating a historic village.

After nearly five hours of discussion, the Brentwood Planning Commission sent a proposal for nearly 300 homes in the Bay Area city back to the staff due to concerns about potential traffic issues. The key issue centered on a second exit from the proposed development which would have directed traffic into and out of congested neighborhoods, prompting the commission to request solutions to reduce traffic and noise for nearby residents. The proposal will be reviewed by the commission again at a later date.

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to temporarily halt the demolition of Marilyn Monroe's former home in the Brentwood neighborhood after a council member introduced a motion to consider it as a city historic-cultural monument. This decision triggers a pause on all building permits, allowing for an assessment of the property's historic and cultural significance, with the process expected to conclude within 75 days.