Reports indicate that Gov. Jerry Brown will name Ken Alex director of the Governor's Office of Planning and Research. If confirmed, Alex will succeed Cynthia Bryant, who served under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor's office has yet to make a public announcement and would neither confirm nor deny Alex's appointment.
Alex arrives at OPR with over a decade of immersion in environmental and energy law and policy. Since 2006 has served, under then-Attorney General Brown, as a senior assistant attorney general, heading the office's global warming unit. From 2000 to 2006, he headed the California Attorney General's task force on energy. Alex has litigated countless environmental cases, including a landmark 2007 lawsuit brought against San Bernardino County's general plan. The suit, which settled, successfully linked greenhouse gas emissions to the California Environmental Quality Act (see CP&DR Vol. 22, No. 7 July 2007) and established a precedent for including GHG analysis in CEQA reports. Alex will arrive at a pivotal moment for OPR, which provides legislative advice and conducts policy research on a range of land use issues. The office is one of the chief resources that localities have for guidance on implementation of laws such as AB 1358: The Complete Streets Act [pdf] and SB 375. OPR recently published a flow chart designed to help local governments understand the California Environmental Quality Act provisions enacted by SB 375 [pdf]. It also houses the Strategic Growth Council, which oversees the disbursement of Prop. 84 local planning grants (see CP&DR Vol. 26, No. 1, January 2011). OPR's prominence has waxed and waned under different governors. As CP&DR Publisher Bill Fulton noted at the recent UCLA Land Use Law and Planning Conference, OPR was a major force in planning during Brown's first tenure but was eviscerated under Gov. George Deukmejian. The advent of climate change legislation such as AB 32 and SB 375 has, however, given the office more prominence (see CP&DR blog Dec. 2010). It was the subject of three reform bills in 2010, none of which passed.