The Coastal Commission in mid-June voted 8-4 to reject the Pebble Beach Company's Del Monte Forest plan — a plan that 62% of Monterey County voters approved in 2000. The plan would permit development of a golf course and hotel, about 30 high-end houses and some worker housing, while providing permanent protection for about 800 acres of Monterey pine forest elsewhere (see CP&DR Environment Watch, July 2005).
The Coastal Commission rejected the plan, even though it had the support of Commissioner Dave Potter, a slow-growth supervisor from Monterey County who represents the Monterey Peninsula. Potter argued that the plan was environmentally superior to a 1984 local coastal plan, which would permit much of the property in question to be chopped up into nearly 900 large lots for new houses. However, the Commission majority sided with staff members, who said the Pebble Beach Company's plan would result in unacceptable destruction of healthy stands of Monterey pines and fragile coastal habitat.
Only two weeks after the Sacramento Bee published a report questioning Placer County Planning Commissioner Michelle Ollar-Burris's real estate and land division practices, the county Board of Supervisors removed her from office.
The Bee reported that Ollar-Burris and four associates repeatedly bought, sold and used parcel maps to divide properties into new rural neighborhoods east of Auburn. In one instance, 93 acres originally purchased by Mary Smith — a name used by Ollar-Burris — was sliced into 21 lots through multiple sales transactions and parcel maps. The Subdivision Map Act prohibits an owner or group of owners from dividing a property into more than four lots without going through the subdivision map process.
Placer County officials first appointed a special counsel to investigate the allegations. But supervisors did not wait for the investigation to conclude before dumping Ollar-Burris, calling the situation "very distracting." Ollar-Burris told the Board of Supervisors she did "nothing wrong, nothing illegal and nothing immoral."
Referendum petitions seeking to force a vote on San Francisco's redevelopment plan for the Bayview-Hunters Point area have been rejected by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Patrick Mahoney. He ruled that the petitions were invalid because they did not contain the full text of the redevelopment plan.
San Francisco supervisors adopted the plan last year after a 10-year process (see CP&DR Redevelopment Watch, September 2006). The plan devotes 50% of tax increment to affordable housing, and provides a great deal of small business assistance. Residents of the heavily African-American district, however, have been distrustful of what they see as a plan to gentrify the area.
An appeal of Judge Mahoney's ruling is likely.
Napa County has begun processing an application for the largest project in county history: 3,200 housing units, nearly 500,000 square feet of industrial space, a neighborhood shopping center and a hotel on 152 acres next to the Napa River at the south end of the Napa Valley. The project promises to be controversial, and not merely because of its size.
The site, the mostly abandoned Napa Pipe industrial property, is in unincorporated Napa County but is immediately adjacent to the City of Napa. City officials contend they should be in charge of planning the development. In addition, the proposal is starting through the environmental review process while the county is in the midst of a general plan update. Plus, an initiative limits unincorporated area growth to 1% a year.
Still, the Napa County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 in early June to begin environmental review of the project, which is backed by local developer Keith Rogal, former Napa Mayor Ed Henderson and former Napa Pipe executive Steve Orndorf.
For the third time in seven years, Oregonians will vote on a takings ballot measure. This time, they will decide on a proposal backed by Democratic state lawmakers that scales back Measure 37, the property rights initiative approved in 2004.
Under Measure 37, landowners have filed about 7,500 claims covering 750,000 acres with local government entities. The claims ask the local government either to repeal land use restrictions adopted since 1972, or to pay the property owner. Payment of all claims would cost local governments at least $6 billion, so virtually all agencies are allowing development to proceed. More than 100 lawsuits over Measure 37 claims are pending.
Democrats and advocates of Oregon's strong planning laws contend property owners have gone further than Measure 37 voters intended. The measure headed for November's ballot would limit most rural landowners to three houses and make large subdivisions outside urban areas nearly impossible. Republicans and Measure 37 proponents say changes are unnecessary.