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CP&DR News Summary, June 10, 2014: Waiting for a budget deal; local plans, projects and sports venues; Coastal Commission preview

Martha Bridegam on
Jun 10, 2014

A budget deal was reportedly nearing as of Monday night, with the Senate's Darrell Steinberg and the Assembly's Toni Atkins talking optimistically but not too specificially. See http://www.capradio.org/articles/2014/06/09/budget-deal-nears-at-the-capitol/. No clear sign where cap-and-trade proceeds fit into that mix, but the data points include an extended lobbying press conference given June 6 by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and senior legislators, including Steinberg and his expected successor to the State Senate presidency, Kevin De León. The videotape is available on De León's site at http://bit.ly/1jh2Ac5 -- including Steinberg's quietly gleeful aside as he introduced De León: "I'm terming out of office!"

StreetsblogLA put together a graphic explaining the three current public cap-and-trade spending proposals at http://bit.ly/1u075wA. CALCOG's helpful cap-and-trade tracking page at http://www.calcog.org/index.aspx?nid=96 has been updated to include the June 3 State Senate budget hearing's modification of the Steinberg plan, and, most recently, a link to a proposal for a compromise advanced by the Legislative Analyst's Office: http://www.lao.ca.gov/handouts/Conf_Comm/2014/Cap-and-Trade-Expenditures-060414.pdf.

All the proposals include hefty funding for transportation and "sustainable communities" funding, but amounts and emphases vary, with the Governor's proposal leaning toward his beloved high-speed rail program, Steinberg's toward affordable housing at transit hubs, and the Assembly's toward broad state and local categories of "Sustainable Communities" funding.

New EPA rule could push more states toward cap-and-trade
California's cap-and-trade program gained standing as a national model this week because of the federal EPA decision to issue a nationwide proposed rule setting state-by-state carbon caps to be met by 2030. While the rules have been criticized as weakly allowing too much state-by-state discretion, they do create incentives for more states to enter the cap-and-trade business.

Ethan Elkind's underwhelmed take on the rules is at http://bit.ly/1u0i6hr, Bloomberg's report is among those seeing a possible boost to regional cap-and-trade markets, but says it's complicated, at http://buswk.co/1kVDftA. The Nation, however, quotes some warnings that an unintended result could be more pressure to use natural gas instead of coal, hence more pressure in favor of fracking: http://bit.ly/1kLE7zZ. The EPA proposed rule itself is at http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule.

LA Metro offers new Union Station plan ideas

Added ideas for the "master plan" to renovate LA's historic Union Station and surround it with new structures and amenities went public in a presentation June 5, in preparation for a board of directors meeting June 18 of the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).

The plan follows Metro's 2011 repurchase of the station and surrounding property from Catellus, which had owned it since 1990: http://www.greatamericanstations.com/Stations/LAX.

The current proposal provides for closer bike and pedestrian connections to surrounding neighborhoods and expanded local transit, and also looks forward to "anticipated future arrival of high speed rail" with plans for a separate terminal to welcome that fabled beast if it ever arrives.  

Curbed LA has a summary at http://bit.ly/1o84YJP and Metro's own announcement page is at http://www.metro.net/projects/la-union-station/. The text actually released on June 5 appears to be a collection of slides rather than a dense narrative. Metro's own summary appears at http://bit.ly/1wYbYKQ including a grand rendering of the proposed complex "in the future after the Master Plan is implemented." Proposals in the main presentation slide set at http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/lausmp/lausmp_presentation_2014_0605_revised.pdf include a call to expand territory covered by the 1996 Alameda Specific Plan, including east to the LA River and south as far as First Street.

San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan would reknit East Bay suburban corridor
The San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan, a joint project by the towns of El Cerrito and Richmond, went public for comment June 3 with comments due July 21. The Mercury News has a summary at http://bit.ly/1xBuetW. The detailed plan text and EIR material is at www.el-cerrito.org/spaSP. Goals of the plan include a form-based code, complete streets plan and infrastructure review with a goal of increased attention to public use of outdoor space.

Strategic Growth Council grants awarded
The Strategic Growth Council awarded $40 million in grants under Proposition 84, including $16 million in the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant category. The announcement is at http://sgc.ca.gov/uploads/2013/05/SGC-Awards-40m-in-Planning-and-Urban-Greening-Grants.pdf. Grant purposes include an assessment of infrastructure needs in disadvantaged areas of Tulare County and the Pioneer Bluff Redevelopment Master Plan in West Sacramento.

More special legislation for Tesla
As noted last week at http://www.cp-dr.com/articles/node-3505, lots of California officials have been crowding forward to beg the privilege of hosting Elon Musk's "gigafactory" for Tesla car batteries -- amid regrets that the loss of Redevelopment tax-increment financing held back localities from promising tax expenditures to large employers. The Sacramento Business Journal now reports at http://bit.ly/1kLBCxD and http://bit.ly/1qkcIp5 on a new piece of courtship legislation for Tesla, handled as a gut-and-amend of SB 1309, now sponsored by State Sens. Steinberg and Gaines -- a Democrat and a Republican.

The current placeholder draft of the bill, at http://bit.ly/1u0hGI1, promises but doesn't spell out "legislation, including, but not limited to, financial incentives and changes to regulatory and environmental processes, to expedite groundbreaking and construction in California of a large-scale battery factory to manufacture batteries for both electric-vehicle and stationary uses."

As the Sacramento Business Journal notes, Musk's SpaceX company has already received special exemptions from California property tax under AB 777, which gives up local tax revenue estimated at $1 million. (See http://bit.ly/1o7I8SJ and http://bit.ly/1kVzsfQ). The Board of Equalization backed the exemption by a vote in late May defining certain rockets as "business inventory", hence as excluded from property tax for an additional reason. See http://www.boe.ca.gov/regs/reg_133_2014.htm and http://www.boe.ca.gov/meetings/pdf/2014/052214_F3_Reg133.pdf.

Coastal Commission: two big votes postponed, SoCal adjustments on deck

A vote to at last approve the Santa Monica Mountains Local Coastal Program is expected to be before the Coastal Commission in July, per an email form the Commission's director, Dr. Charles Lester. The remaining step to complete this long-running project is to approve Los Angeles County implementing legislation -- zoning ordinances and other potentially devilish details -- to implement the Land Use Plan approved by the Commission in April. Back in April, players in the hard-fought controversy over vineyard and farming uses were looking toward the June monthly meeting in Huntington Beach as the likely approval session, but it's not on the June agenda. So it goes to the agenda for Ventura in July. See http://www.cp-dr.com/articles/node-3474 for CP&DR's prior coverage on this issue.

Last month's hardest-fought issue, the Marin County Local Coastal Program update, got a land use plan out of the May meeting but it was so loaded with complex last-minute amendments that Commission and county staff have set no date to finish resulting revisions to the implementing legislation. The implementation plan is on the Commission's June agenda only to push back the deadline for completing it to July 27, 2015.

Matters on the June agenda include a Huntington Beach redesignation of five acres from open space and agriculture to residential use, a raft of adjustments to the Carlsbad and San Diego Local Coastal Programs and home renovations in Los Angeles County. The discussion-only item for appeals on Wednesday morning's CCC agenda could see some tension over the appeal of a Laguna Canyon live/work project following a site visit by a CCC staff biologist. See http://bit.ly/1n30izT for local reporting on that dispute.

[Update 6/11/14: although the Laguna Canyon matter came up in comments briefly, the main appeals discussion grew out of other issues discussed at the May meeting and was much more broadly applicable. It concerned the scope of Commissioners' power over appeals and the timing problems imposed by statutory appeal deadlines. For the staff report on the item see http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2014/6/W6d-6-2014.pdf . We'll have more on this issue later.]

The Commission's June 11-13 agenda is currently at http://coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html.

And in the sports venue business:

  • San Jose's Diridon Station Area Plan -- available in draft form at https://www.sanjoseca.gov/index.aspx?NID=1743 -- will go to a City Council vote today, June 10, amid complaints from bike and transit activists over what StreetsblogSF called a "parking crater" sought by the SAP Center for its "Shark Tank" hockey arena. For details see http://bit.ly/1qlRyqT.
  • The LA City Council approved a "relatively meager $300 million renovation" of its convention center  that would leave out a sports stadium supported by the NFL: http://bit.ly/1oPjS3B
  • The city's soccer team, Sacramento Republic FC, teamed with a group of nonprofits to back a county sales tax hike for projects including a soccer stadium: http://bit.ly/1hD1Gv7
  • On May 23, Judge Timothy Frawley, who has ruled in so many heavy-hitting Sacramento county court cases, threw out the current lawsuit against the Kings arena proposal, saying the suit's challenge to the arena term sheet was inappropriate because the term sheet was not binding. See http://bit.ly/1kggsCO.
  • Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) announced it was giving up its campaign for a referendum on the proposed Kings basketball arena, following a rebuff (also by Judge Frawley) some months before: http://bit.ly/1ljKfzc
  • Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff announced he was close to signing a lease extension for the A's to stay in the Oakland Coliseum -- a deal that would further weight Oakland's stadium site choice decision toward the proposed "Coliseum City" model. See http://bit.ly/1oPlpqq for current coverage and http://www.cp-dr.com/articles/node-3476 for Morris Newman's overview of the Oakland stadium venue choices.
  • The Oakland Tribune reported on a blossom of real estate activity nourished by expectations for Levi's Stadium, soon to be home to the ex-San-Francisco 49ers: http://bit.ly/1l2SpYi

In Other News:

  • A plan to expand San Francisco's Moscone Center, mostly upward along Howard Street, was before the city's Planning Commission on June 5. For details and links to the massive EIR see Curbed SF at http://bit.ly/1oH715k. Minutes of the meeting aren't posted yet but the agenda is at http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=3835 with a note that comments will be accepted until June 16. The SF Business Times describes commercial hopes for the plan at http://bit.ly/1n350NX. The official expansion site is at http://mosconeexpansion.com/. Local real estate blog Socketsite has renderings and comments on an alternative at http://bit.ly/1pePumX. The Yerba Buena Neighborhood Consortium, which has roots in the 40-year-old conflict over demolitions at the site, posted criticisms at http://bit.ly/1s2753s, including an argument that the plan did too little for existing pedestrian safety and sidewalk crowding.
  • Developer Larry Kelley announced a deal to buy and clean up the 240-acre Union Pacific rail yard in downtown Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee reported State Sen. Darrell Steinberg and U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui helped negotiate a deal on toxic cleanup responsibilities among Kelley's Downtown Railyard Venture LLC, Union Pacific as the last active industrial owner, and Inland American Real Estate Trust, which became the owner through a loan default by the immediately prior owner, developer Thomas Enterprises. See http://bit.ly/1oPuvnd for details.
  • The California Supreme Court upheld the use of red-light cameras in traffic prosecutions, saying photos taken by automatic cameras weren't hearsay. Ars Technica has a thorough review of California and nationwide law and controversy on the question at http://bit.ly/TDbGtD.
  • - In May the LA City Council approved a pedestrian bridge between elements of the "Da Vinci" downtown housing development, after criticisms of statements from its proponent, G.H. Palmer Associates, that suggested the bridge's purpose was to separate project residents from homeless people in the neighborhood. http://lat.ms/1jDC1N9
  • The LA Times reported on renewed neighborhood concerns about "mansionization" in homebuilding as the upper strata of the economy improve: http://lat.ms/1qlF7ey
  • Further to LA planning woes, the City Council agreed to pay $1.75 million in legal fees to the challengers who beat the new Hollywood zoning plan: http://lat.ms/1nv3hmh
  • Courthouse News reports that Kings and Kern Counties, the city of Bakersfield, and three other parties have filed challenges to the EIR on the Fresno to Bakersfield leg of the California high-speed rail plan: http://www.courthousenews.com/2014/06/09/68553.htm

 

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