Clearlake posts General Plan revision for review
The draft EIR to update Clearlake's 1983 General Plan is up for review. Prepared by a team at Cal Poly, the draft runs to almost 500 pages. A local news report at http://bit.ly/1kkSbRP describes the plan as preparing for population growth from the present through 2040. The plan also seeks to "Protect the City's rural character and maintain the small town atmosphere." The plan seeks to improve affordable housing, "streamline" permits, promote infill, and focus development in eight separate "key growth areas" ranging from the aging Lakeshore Drive business district to a public facilities complex to a commercial strip with a Wal-Mart. More specific goals include "targets" of nearly doubling jobs, from 2,675 in 2010 to 5,744 in 2040, but increasing housing less, from 8,035 units in 2010 to 8,486 in 2040. Subjects of expressed concern include correct handling of stormwater, preservation of agricultural land, the future of Clear Lake, and preservation of fragile local species, whose poetic names cover eight pages, from the bent-flowered fiddleneck, Amsinckia lunaris, to the American badger, Taxidea taxus. Historical resources cover a timespan of some 8000 years, beginning with ancient artifacts found at Borax Lake, and including the early-20th-century "Cobblestone Building", but the city itself is described as not having designated any historical resources. A comment period that has had several announced end dates is now shown on the city Web site as expiring June 30. Plan documents are available at http://bit.ly/1iNSejM.
AB 32 scoping plan gentler than courts on GHG cuts?
There's a smart CEQA question from the environmental firm of Stoel Rives on its weblog at http://bit.ly/1hxBDWz -- in the new AB 32 scoping plan update, are the envisioned cuts to greenhouse gases (GHG) as deep as those endorsed by California courts? The authors of the item, Thomas Henry and Bao Vu, suggest the update's figures effectively call for a 16% reduction in GHG below "business as usual", which is less than called for by a recent unpublished appellate court analysis. The March 20 CEQA decision on Newhall Ranch, Center for Biological Diversity v. Department of Fish & Wildlife, includes an intricate discussion of GHG requirements in Section IV(G). Although this section of the opinion was excluded from publication, Henry and Vu found it helpful as a guide to prior published authority on the matter. It reviewed the analysis of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, which worked back from the AB 32 goal of returning GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and concluded that the proper reduction in emissions would have to be 30% below "business as usual" levels otherwise projected for 2020. So the lawyers ask in their analysis, if a project "only" reduces GHG by 16% in alignment with the terms of the new scoping plan, might it be environmentally careful enough to satisfy a court's CEQA review?
The Newhall Ranch case is at http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B245131.PDF. Section IV(G) starts at Page 92 of the PDF. For context on that case see http://www.cp-dr.com/articles/node-3461. The AB 32 scoping plan update (9.7 MB download) is at http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/scopingplan/2013_update/first_update_climate_change_scoping_plan.pdf.
Kern County settles disputes over tax apportionment
Two tax revenue apportionment disputes cutting in opposite directions appear to have settled this spring. Most recently, Kern County claimed back $882,000 from the city of Ridgecrest based on an overpayment of tax increment funds that were no longer due to the city because of Redevelopment's dissolution. See www.ridgecrestca.com/article/20140519/NEWS/140519677 on the error. Per http://www.ridgecrestca.com/article/20140523/NEWS/140529827 the parties reached a settlement allowing the city to pay the money back over three years.
Back in March, the county agreed to pay Bakersfield $713,000 in recalculated tax revenue. That payment settled a city-county lawsuit over the county Auditor-Controller's decision to reverse tax sharing agreements for areas annexed to the city since 2005. See http://bit.ly/1naQsNP and links from there.
McKinley Village opponents file suit
Opponents of the McKinley Village subdivision appealed the Sacramento City Council's approval vote with a lawsuit May 30 based on alleged CEQA and zoning law violations. The project, led by former California State Treasurer Phil Angelides, is on an isolated parcel between a rail line and a freeway in east Sacramento. The opponents' writ petition says "up to 40 trains per day pass the site," it's next to a 172-acre landfill, and the project isn't proper infill but "consists of wedging a residential complex into a corner of the City that is utterly inappropriate for that use." There has been extensive talk of pedestrian and vehicle underpasses to improve access in and out of the proposed site but it's not clear which will be built or who will pay for them. See http://www.sacbee.com/2014/05/30/6445702/foes-of-mckinley-village-file.html and links from there. The new lawsuit is East Sacramento Partnerships for a Livable City v. City of Sacramento, Sacramento Superior Court case No. 34-2014-80001851. Court documents will be available free online in the case until Sacramento's county court download fees take effect July 1.
More time to comment on BDCP
State and federal sponsors of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) granted an extension sought by environmental groups of time to comment on the massive Delta water tunnel project. The new deadline is July 29, 2014. In the same May 30 announcement as the time extension, the agencies released a draft implementing agreement for the plan, out for review by the same deadline as the whole. See http://bit.ly/1outEYX for the press release. Maven's Notebook collected reactions at http://bit.ly/1naJzMH from the Metropolitan Water District (favorable), Restore the Delta (indignant), and the State Water Contractors (anxious to start the dig). The Stockton Record's Alex Breitler has more details, plus highlights of the new proposed agreement text, at http://bit.ly/1jPmXwf. Also in late May, the Governor named Karla Nemeth, the BDCP project manager at the California Natural Resources Agency, to serve as deputy secretary for water policy at the agency, per the Central Valley Business Times at http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=25946.
New curtailment orders on junior water rights
Seniority in California water claims is starting to be enforced in more than theory, and the sheer oddness of the state's water rights system is becoming a far worse than theoretical problem for serious numbers of people. As affected parties are no doubt aware, more curtailment orders came down Friday, May 30. The Stockton Record's Breitler says 1,634 junior water rights holders are affected in the San Joaquin basin (see http://bit.ly/1iR0Ndy). There are now orders in effect in the Scott, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Russian rivers' watersheds. For the main state site with orders see http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/drought/water_availability.shtml. Meanwhile, the Center for Investigative Reporting found many agricultural water districts aren't complying with current requirements to track water usage per farmer: http://bit.ly/1kB6gtr. An AP report found the state's water system is simply not set up to keep accurate track of water usage by holders of pre-1914 water rights who are entitled to unlimited flow: http://bit.ly/1mPAl6M The San Francisco Examiner has even reported that San Francisco's seemingly enduring claim on the Tuolumne River's flow from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite is based on a water right that is junior to the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts -- and if they assert their full rights, San Francisco's entitlement could work out to "the beer foam out of a beer mug." See http://bit.ly/SrlplX.
Sacramento officials trying for Tesla factory
Sacramento officials have stepped into competition with other areas' municipal boosters in a competition to land Tesla's planned "Gigafactory" battery plant. The Sacramento-area site would be Mather Commerce Park, a business park near the airport. A detailed Sacramento Bee writeup at http://www.sacbee.com/2014/05/22/6425105/sacramentos-mather-airport-in.html among other things laments the loss of redevelopment funds as a means of offering tax advantages to the company.
The Silicon Valley Business Journal reports developers are active around the existing Tesla plant site in Fremont. Lennar is reportedly about to buy a 112-acre parcel from Union Pacific on Highway 880 with plans to build a residential and commercial complex including a school, and Toll Brothers is working on 34 acres next to the new BART station. See http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2014/06/02/lennar-buying-100-acres-from-union-pacific-as.html.
Judge blocks Riverside-Figueroa "Landbridge" plan
A June 2 hearing before an unsympathetic judge may have ended an attempt to preserve the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge over the LA River for reuse on the model of New York's "High Line". A campaign led by nonprofit Enrich LA and architects RAC Design Build had sought to turn the 1927 structure into a "Landbridge" bike and pedestrian amenity. But per an indignant account from LA Streetsblog, Judge James Chalfant treated the effort as coming too late in a planning process that had already arranged to demolish the bridge, and refused to grant an injunction sought by the would-be renovators. Landbridge proponents and the city disputed whether retaining the old bridge would truly interfere with planned further construction along the LA River, since the bridge's replacement was already completed and operating at a separate site upstream. The LA Times reported Deputy City Attorney Mary Decker "estimated that delaying the demolition would cost $18,000 a day starting next Monday." According to the paper, Landbridge proponents said they took formal action so late in the planning process because they only realized belatedly that the new bridge would not be built on the same site as the old one. See http://bit.ly/SsgZey for Streetsblog and http://lat.ms/1jNj0s3 for the LA Times report.
Can George Lucas do more with Pier 30 than Warriors?
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has reportedly offered George Lucas the Seawall Lot 330 site for his magnificently funded but currently homeless "Cultural Arts Museum" proposal. The site is just inland across the Embarcadero from Pier 30 and forms part of the area the Golden State Warriors would have developed if they had built an arena on Piers 30 and 32. With the Warriors now contracted for a waterfront site farther south, and mixed-use development at Piers 30-32 already enabled by Assemblymember Phil Ting's AB 1273 (see http://bit.ly/1tGZdQw), it's a live question what may move into the political and legal vacuum. Lucas has been seeking a home for his project since the Presidio Trust refused to let him build it on Crissy Field near the Golden Gate Bridge. And while the Presidio site didn't work, Lucas' talk of spending $300 to $400 million up front, and providing another $400 million endowment at his death, has held the interest of a city government whose entire proposed public budget (see http://sfcontroller.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=5395) is a little below $8.6 billion. For details see the writeup and links on Socketsite, which asks if maybe Lucas could add some housing to the mix: http://bit.ly/1o8K1My
Any such proposal could be affected by San Francisco's Measure B, which appeared to have won in the June 3 election, and which calls for a public vote on any future waterfront height limit variance. However, Socketsite notes the ex-Warriors site is already zoned for a solid 65-foot structure with towers possibly up to 105 feet.
Elsewhere in San Francisco news, Mayor Lee included in his budget a proposed fund of $2.48 million in combined city and federal money to renovate 172 vacant units of public housing so homeless families can live in them. The plan has been championed by Supervisor London Breed. See http://bit.ly/1kpiWEB.
And in the first days of June, as Muni transit drivers staged a disruptive sickout, a city Transportation Task Force report found San Francisco was behind on transportation infrastructure and in need of some $10.1 billion in improvements through 2030. (See Socketsite writeup at http://bit.ly/1hynNmT and the report itself at http://bit.ly/1hUkOop.) During the sickout, Gawker's Kevin Montgomery reported, many buses and trains were delayed but Muni stayed on time with the 83X, known as the Twitterbus, which connects the Caltrain at Fourth and Townsend to Twitter headquarters at Tenth and Market. http://bit.ly/1uhcvW4