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In Brief: AG Challenges Pleasanton Growth Management

The state attorney general's office has joined a lawsuit filed by affordable housing advocates over the City of Pleasanton's growth management ordinance.

First approved by voters in 1986 and modified in 1998, Pleasanton's growth management program caps annual housing development at 750 units and imposes an ultimate cap of 29,000 units. In 2006, Oakland-based Urban Habitat sued Pleasanton, contending that the growth management ordinance violated a variety of state laws, including the housing element statute that requires cities and counties to plan for their fair share of regional housing needs. Last year, an appellate court cleared the way for the lawsuit to move forward (see CP&DR Legal Digest, September 2008).

Attorney General Jerry Brown said he joined the suit because Pleasanton's proposed general plan update would create a huge imbalance between the availability of employment and housing. Specifically, the plan would increase the number of jobs the city hosts by 45,000 to about 100,000 while maintaining its 29,000-unit housing cap, which would force workers to commute into Pleasanton. Brown contends that the city, if it adopts the revised plan, would violate the housing element law.

"It's time for Pleasanton to balance its housing and its jobs and take full advantage of its underutilized land and proximity to BART," Brown said. Earlier this year, Brown's office expressed its concerns that Pleasanton's updated plan would increase long-distance commuting and, therefore, greenhouse gas emissions.

The case is Urban Habitat Program v. City of Pleasanton, Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG 06 293831.


The state may not use its gasoline sales tax revenue, designated by voters for public transit purposes, to balance its general fund budget, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled.

Over the past two years, the state has eliminated virtually all support for local transit operations by diverting about $1 billion from a public transportation "spillover account" funded by the sales tax on gasoline to the general fund. The state contended it was using the money to retire transit-related debt and to provide transportation for developmentally disabled people and students in small school districts. But the court said those uses of the money violated Proposition 42, which passed in 2002, and Proposition 1A, which voters approved in 2006. While the court did not require the state to refund the diverted monies, it prevented future transfers.

The case is Shaw v. The People ex rel. John Chiang, No. C058479, 2009 DJDAR 9815, and was filed on June 30, 2009.


The Inglewood City Council in early July approved a specific plan and environmental impact report for redevelopment of Hollywood Park horse track. The plan calls for development of about 3,000 housing units, a lakefront park and a retail and entertainment district on the 238-acre site (see CP&DR Local Watch, June 2009).

The city is likely to consider project entitlements for developer Wilson Meany Sullivan over the next 18 months. In the meantime, horse racing will continue.


Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have developed a new tool they say will help water managers and public agencies better gauge and preserve Central Valley groundwater. The Central Valley Hydrologic Model is the product of scientists examining 8,500 drillers' logs dating to the early 20th century and reviewing 41 years of ground and surface water data. Among the findings:

Overall groundwater levels are decreasing in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Although the potential for large-scale, artificial groundwater recharge is good, land subsidence of up to 29 feet has been documented, reducing groundwater storage space.

Groundwater levels in the northern San Joaquin Valley and the Sacramento Valley are stable.

The third consecutive year of below-average precipitation is increasing pressure on groundwater supplies, as landowners drill more and deeper wells.

"The Central Valley Hydrologic Model could be used to evaluate regional issues such as the exportation of water from the Sacramento Valley to Southern California, or the upcoming restoration of salmon habitat in the San Joaquin River," said Claudia Faunt, a USGS hydrologist who helped develop the model.

A full report and the model is available at the USGS website.