The San Diego City Council approved a giant infill project on the site of a gravel quarry in Mission Valley during late October. The Quarry Falls project proposes 4,780 housing units in a variety of configurations, about 600,000 square feet of retail space, about 600,000 square feet of offices, 70 acres of parks and open space, and a school on the 230-acre site near the junction of Interstates 8 and 805.
The developer, Sudberry Properties, presented the project as an ideal fit within San Diego's "City of Villages" concept because of a pedestrian-friendly design, the inclusion of live-work units and housing above storefronts, close proximity to the trolley and extensive public open space.
The only vote against the project came from Councilwoman Donna Frye, who represents Mission Valley. She voiced concerns about traffic the project would generate in the already congested area. A group called San Diegans for Responsible Planning, organized by rival developer H.G. Fenton, has raised similar complaints in opposing the project. But Sudberry representatives said the company will provide improvements to five freeway interchanges as part of the development.
Meanwhile, about 110 miles north in Carson, developers of an $850 million project on a closed garbage dump conducted a formal groundbreaking ceremony on October 14. LNR Property and Hopkins Real Estate Group actually began remedial work on the site in April, but the ceremony offered Carson city officials the chance to celebrate the unusually large infill project.
Since the Cal Compact landfill closed in 1965, numerous developers and speculators have made a run at developing the 168-acre site along the 405 freeway. In the 1980s, the city approved a 2-million-square-foot shopping mall. It went nowhere. More recently, the National Football League eyed the land for a stadium. City officials, however, chose to work with LNR and Hopkins, ultimately approving a project of 1,300 apartments and condominiums, 1 million square feet of retail space and a 300-room hotel.
Originally called Avalon at South Bay, the project is now known as The Boulevards at South Bay and a 2011 opening is planned.
State lawmakers need to decide what to do with the Bay Delta, "and soon," the Legislative Analyst's Office urges in a new report. The lengthy document released in late-October is mostly an overview of the state's water system, but the report concludes with several potentially controversial recommendations.
When 5.7 million people say they want to shield local funding from grabbing hands – as they did in November -- that should be the end of the story. At least, that's what California's redevelopment agencies would hope after this annus horribilis in the redevelopment world.
In Year Three of the Great Recession, it's comforting to think that California has heard all the bad news it's going to hear. Or at least we're so accustomed to bad news, that we've stopped getting depressed by it. As a result, many of this year's top stories come with silver linings.
The no-growth vs. slow-growth vs. build-everything debate has become a faint murmur, since not much of anything is getting built anyway. What is getting built, though, is generally pleasing to the smart growth crowd.
Fans of infrastructure development have surely cheered the progress on projects like High Speed Rail and Los Angeles Metro's 30/10 Initiative. Then again, skeptics may be assuring themselves that these projects will never get built.
A major residential and resort development on the Tejon Ranch has won unanimous approval from the Kern County Board of Supervisors. The project, known as Tejon Mountain Village, is proposed to have 3,450 housing units, two golf courses, 750 hotel rooms, a resort and extensive highway commercial development on about 5,000 acres east of Frazier Park.
Forced into negotiations by the state Legislature, the City of Walnut has dropped its lawsuit contesting the adequacy of an environmental impact report for a proposed professional football stadium and 3 million-square-foot entertainment complex in the neighboring City of Industry.
A project that had become a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lightning rod has apparently died. Nestlé Waters North America notified the McCloud Community Services District that it is dropping plans to convert a closed lumber mill in Siskiyou County into a water-bottling plant because it is building the facility in Sacramento instead.
California's farm and grazing lands decreased by 275 square miles from mid-2004 through mid-2006, according to the state Department of Conservation. A total of 81,000 acres of prime farmland were lost to urban development or other changes, the greatest decrease in prime farmland since the state started the farmland mapping and monitoring program in 1984.
A former San Joaquin County political operative who was convicted of corruption in 2005 has had five of 17 guilty counts thrown out by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appellate panel overturned counts of attempted extortion against Monte McFall but upheld conviction on 12 counts of extortion, mail fraud and witness tampering.
The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has released a new report in which it urges less reliance on state general obligation (GO) bonds to fund infrastructure improvements. The report, "Paying For Infrastructure: California's Choices," recommends reducing the voter requirement for local bonds from two-thirds to 55%, more user fees and expanded experimentation with public-private partnerships.