The June 1998 election featured only eight land use and environmental measures throughout the state, the lowest since 1986 according to a CP&DR analysis of election returns. Seven of the eight measures were on the ballot in Northern California cities and counties.
In the only Southern California ballot measure, voters in San Diego overwhelmingly approved a measure to finance a $216 million expansion of the city's convention center. That expansion had been fought by opponents of downtown redevelopment, who had earlier brought a lawsuit to challenge a different financing plan proposed by the city (See CP&DR, February 1997). The lawsuit is currently pending before the California Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case in June.
In San Francisco, Mayor Willie Brown's plans to use City Hall after its remodeling and redevelop the former Naval facility at Treasure Island were reined in by voters. Brown had originally said he wanted to move only 700 of the 1,300 city employees back to City Hall when its earthquake renovations were completed, but voters disagreed. Later plans called for moving 1,100 employees back.
Brown's plans for the redevelopment of Treasure Island are now affected by Measure K, which places rules on conflict of interest and competitive bidding on the project and prohibits casino and card club gambling on the site.
The measures were sponsored by political consultant Clint Reilly and State Senator Quentin Kopp, both of whom are considered political challengers to Brown in 1999.
In El Dorado County, which has seen fierce battles in recent years over development issues, a measure to limit housing density and give voters a chance to weigh in on three large projects was defeated. (See related story).
One ballot measure in the Central Valley failed by the narrowest of margins. Measure ii in Sutter County would have raised the sales tax by a 1/2 cent to finance additional repairs of levees. The agricultural county was hard hit by floods during the winter of 1997, and the federal funding has not covered all the desired repairs. The measure needed 66.7% percent yes votes to pass, but garnered only 65.2%. A similar measure may be placed on the county's November ballot.
Santa Clara city voters agreed with their city council and voted to allow Sun Microsystems to build on the site of a former state mental facility that contains historic buildings. Sun plans to restore four of the historic buildings of the Agnews Developmental Center, but opponents wanted more of the buildings preserved. The opponents are expected to continue with a legal challenge to stop the center.
In Marin County, Fairfax voters turned down plans to build 45 homes on the site of a former country club. The developer had also promised to donate 14.5 acres of the site for a city park. The land is currently zoned for parkland, and is the only large undeveloped parcel in the city of 7,100.
In Sonoma County, Rohnert Park voters refused to change the city's urban growth boundary, which was adopted for a four-year period by a narrow margin in 1996.
Orange County is known for its miles of tract homes, car traffic and a booming economy. Much of that growth is due to the work of the Irvine Company, which has shaped a swath of the central county through its control and development of 93,000 acres that were once one of California's great ranches.
Hundreds upon hundreds of real estate developments, planning efforts, economic development projects and related matters have received coverage in the pages of CP&DR during the past 20 years. We present here an update on some of the most important, and some of the weirder, stories from that period — while keeping in mind that most of these stories still have not ended.
Despite the heavy emphasis on education issues, newly elected governor Gray Davis has sent some early signals that planning and development will also be important to his administration.
The strongest signal yet has been his appointment of strong environmentalists to his Cabinet, as well as comments in his State of the State speech and the budget request he submitted to the Legislature during his first week in office.
In his speech, the governor said: "After education and public safety, the most voc...
In one of the most active election days of the decade for planning and development issues, pro-growth and slow-growth forces battled almost to a tie on local ballots around the state in November. Slow-growthers won some high-profile victories, most notably a near-sweep in passing a highly publicized series of urban growth boundaries in Ventura County. However, they lost other key races in San Diego and El Dorado counties. And - perhaps most surprising - most measures to allow or promote growth passed ea...
After a roller-coaster ride lasting several months, the beach town of Santa Cruz has finally approved a scaled-down plan to expand its historic boardwalk area — and election results in November's city council races are expected to offer a public referendum on the council's decision.
The proposed expansion is the latest development issue to divide Santa Cruz -— a college town known for its environmental, non-traditional bent that has undergone a series of bruising growth and redevelopment battles in th...
In a case involving municipal zoning, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a city cannot enforce zoning regulations for signs if they require the alteration of a registered service mark. The court did rule, however, that a city can prevent a company from erecting an awning containing a service mark. The case arose in Tempe, Arizona, where Blockbuster Video and Video Update, two national chains, rented space in two separate shopping centers. All exterior signs in Tempe's shopping ...
In a major victory for environmentalists, Unocal has agreed to a settlement that will clean up 400,000 gallons of petroleum contamination in Avila Beach, an unincorporated area south of San Luis Obispo. The June settlement is being called the largest Proposition 65 settlement in state history and is believed to be the first time a company has been forced to remove contamination and rebuild a community.
"This is the biggest cleanup since Love Canal," said Richard Drury, legal director of th...
Development continues to be a contentious issue in El Dorado County in the Sierra foothills east of Sacramento. In the June primary, development interests were able to beat back a ballot initiative that would have reduced housing densities. However, a second candidate critical of the county's growth policies was elected to its Board of Supervisors, and a new ballot initiative to control growth may be headed for the November ballot.
Voters turned down Measure A, which would have required public re...
In a move that promises to bring a planning commission back to Kern County, the county board of supervisors voted 3-2 on June 17 on a measure directing planning staff to recommend ways to reinstitute the long-disbanded body. The decision was applauded by activists who had complained that the public had not received adequate notice of public hearings, nor provided enough input into projects in their early stages. The county's planning director also welcomed the decision, which he said would assist i...
The Strategic Growth Council staff has proposed using $30 million in new money to provide additional funding for projects that didn't make the cut or weren't fully funded by the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program last year.
In its staff report for next Thursday's meeting, the SGC staff has also thrown out several additional ideas for working with the metropolitan planning organizations, including a geographical allocation of funds and MPO review and recommendation of projects. However, SGC staff isn't recommending any particular ideas. >>read more
The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) has taken on the difficult task of bringing high-flown talk about renewable energy goals down, literally, to earth, in the form of land use planning. It's asking members of the energy, planning and environmental fields to cooperate in adding a new dimension to the meaning of property ownership in California's southeastern deserts.
But it's also running into resistance from local governments that don't want the plan to restrict their own land use power; Imperial County, for example, has banned new solar facilities. And some environmental groups are criticizing the plan because of the potential environmental impact of large-scale solar and other renewable energy facilities. It's an ironic clash between a governor who wants rapid progress on renewable energy and local and environmental groups who are concerned about the environmental impact of large-scale solar facilities.