The State Water Resources Control Board is circulating a statewide version of proposed amendments to tighten existing statewide trash control rules. The proposals, released June 10, are at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/trash_control/documentation.shtml. The proposal applies to all California surface waters except for the Los Angeles rivers and streams that, uniquely in the state, already have trash Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) standards for trash. Even those would be reconsidered under the statewide rules. The League of California Cities has more links and commentary at http://bit.ly/1kuJWyo. A workshop on the proposal was scheduled for July 16 in Sacramento. Comments are due August 5, also the date of a hearing when the board will take public comment without voting.
State Supreme Court grants review in Newhall Ranch case
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of the March 2014 Newhall Ranch ruling, Center for Biological Diversity v. Department of Fish & Wildlife. The March decision by the Second District Court of Appeal (No. B245141) intrigued some smart people with its detailed unpublished discussion of greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals. As discussed previously at http://www.cp-dr.com/articles/node-3505, writers Thomas Henry and Bao Vu wrote a technically careful blog post at http://bit.ly/1hxBDWz comparing standards for GHG reduction set in the case to those apparently set by the recent AB 32 scoping plan update, suggesting that the scoping plan might be more lenient. The
Miller Starr Regalia blog has details of the grant of review at http://bit.ly/U9hhYj.
San Diego compromise could raise development fees
A deal between housing and business advocates could bring about a rare increase in the fee San Diego charges to commercial developers to support subsidized housing. Writer Andrew Keatts in the Voice of San Diego says the increase would only return the fee to 1.5% of 1990-denominated construction costs, which is where it started 24 years ago. The City Council was forced to undo a vote that last year raised the fee to 1.5% of total development costs. The replacement compromise plan goes to its first City Council committee meeting July 17. For details and links to the plan see the Voice of San Diego at http://bit.ly/1nvkFUF, San Diego CityBeat at http://bit.ly/1t27r78, and the U-T at http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/jul/09/linkage-fee-double-reform/.
Fresno General Plan revision draft out for review
The city of Fresno is circulating the final draft of its 2035 general plan revision with comments due August 18. The Fresno Bee reports the plan seeks to increase density and allow housing growth in many kinds of neighborhoods while also addressing the city's problems, with poverty-related disparities among neighborhoods at the top of the list. http://bit.ly/1mghM9N For past coverage of Fresno's growth plans and related negotiations see http://www.cp-dr.com/articles/node-3417. The plan draft is at http://www.fresno.gov/News/PressReleases/2014/2035gpdraft.htm.
Treasure Island EIR upheld
The First District Court of Appeal upheld the EIR supporting a $1.5 billion development plan for Treasure Island, the man-made former World's Fair site at the middle of the San Francisco Bay Bridge.
The case is Citizens for a Sustainable Treasure Island v. City and County of San Francisco, available at http://bit.ly/1t2f0dW. For more detail see legal writer Bob Egelko's report in the SF Chronicle at http://bit.ly/W9AGKk. There's more technical legal analysis from Parissa Ebrahimzadeh of Stoel Rives at http://bit.ly/1rfXXXY and Art Coon of Miller Starr Regalia at http://bit.ly/WgZ6lE.
The court rejected the challengers' claim that the EIR for the project should have been prepared as a program-level EIR (i.e., with subsidiary EIRs for individual projects to follow later), but that it instead was improperly prepared as an insufficiently detailed project-level EIR. The court found the substance mattered more than the title, and the actual detail in the document was enough to qualify the EIR as adequate.
The project calls for up to 8,000 housing units, plus hotel, office and commercial space. It's important that, as the court noted, the EIR requires the Navy to finish its toxic cleanup work on every land parcel before transferring it to the Treasure Island Development Authority for new use. Plans to build dense housing on Treasure Island, and decisions to house poor people there in recent years, have been criticized based on concerns about incomplete cleanup of hazards left by prior military uses, from mold to asbestos to radioactivity. (See http://bit.ly/1wtS7jP and http://bit.ly/O0JZHG.)
Perhaps surprisingly, rising sea levels are less of a concern for this low-lying, mainly artificial island in the Bay. The court decision does not mention sea levels at all, and the June report by San Francisco's Civil Grand Jury said Treasure Island's development plans had taken sea level rise into account better than many other parts of the city. The grand jury report is available via http://bit.ly/1zHWFrk.
Conservatives' challenge to Plan Bay Area rejected
An Alameda County judge has rejected a challenge to Plan Bay Area by the conservative group Bay Area Citizens, which is represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation. Judge Evelio Grillo rejected the challengers' claim that only fuel improvements, not denser housing, would be needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Egelko has details at http://bit.ly/1wtG0TV, and Planetizen has links with context for the case at http://www.planetizen.com/articles/node-70187.
The decision follows the recent settlement of an environmental challenge to the plan as reported at http://www.planetizen.com/articles/node-69937. The Bay Area Citizens group will presumably appeal. Otherwise, Planetizen reports, only one lawsuit against Plan Bay Area now remains, by a group with an address in Santa Rosa called the Post Sustainability Institute. The group's Web site warns strenuously against "UN Agenda 21" and "Communitarianism," frequently in capital letters.
San Francisco passes open space plan
A revised Recreation and Open Space Element (ROSE) for the San Francisco General Plan passed the Board of Supervisors 8 to 3 on first reading July 8. It was headed for final passage July 15.
The San Francisco Parks Alliance supported the measure, praising it for "up-to-date priority areas for land acquisition; local biodiversity in natural areas; living alleys, POPOS (privately owned public open spaces), and parklets; a plan to connect existing open spaces through "Green Connections"; and more community engagement." http://conta.cc/W9cKXo
The proposal drew criticism from a neighborhood advocates' coalition for insufficiently protecting open space from new construction, especially in areas where it's scarce, for lacking a measure of adequately met recreational needs, and for overemphasizing native species at the expense of existing greenery. See http://bit.ly/1r3fPDX and http://sfforest.net/2014/06/10/watch-out-for-rose-action-alert/.
The plan is at http://openspace.sfplanning.org/.
Khosla goes back to court this week on Martins Beach
The multiply postponed trial on public access to Martins Beach resumes with final arguments July 16 in San Mateo County Superior court. The Mercury News at http://bit.ly/WgKVwU looks at the major contentions: principally, the Surfrider Foundation's claim that billionare property owner Vinod Khosla violated Coastal Act access laws by ending fee-based access to the beach; and Khosla's that he merely exercised his property rights to keep the gate closed.
At the Coastal Commission's July 9 session, Commissioner Martha McClure confirmed with staff that the Coastal Commission's legislative representative was still advocating for public access to Martin's Beach at the Commission's direction. McClure expressed dismay that SB 968, which initially called for the state lands commission to acquire the land by eminent domain had been "what I would consider watered down," in that it would merely "authorize the State Lands to take a look at it, and acquire it if possible." She said,"Every time I think public access, I think of that locked gate." She urged the Commission's representative to say, "Put the teeth back in that puppy, we need public access to Martins Beach." (For the bill text see http://bit.ly/1nv7q6c; for background see http://bit.ly/UJxiVZ.)
With court arguments about to start on the morning of July 16, the plaintiff Surfrider Foundation was promising updates on legal director Angela Howe's Twitter at https://twitter.com/angtex.
Are Sacramento's downtown developments fair?
In June a Bee columnist called the Sacramento Coalition for Shared Prosperity lawsuit "greed" at http://bit.ly/1oXViiv. But two supporters of the group's social equity claims against the Kings explain at http://bit.ly/1zHKbjq and http://bit.ly/1nHc0TI how a Community Benefits Agreement could serve denser, more affordable downtown hosing in Sacramento. On a similar note, Planetizen highlighted Rachel Dovey's critique in Next City of downtown development projects that she argued are likely to exclude residents of the poorer downtown Sacramento that remains each day after office workers go home. http://www.planetizen.com/articles/node-70227
Costa Mesa will vote on a city charter
Costa Mesa's City Council has definitely placed a city charter proposal on the November ballot. This is a second try: a similar charter proposal, Measure V, was defeated in 2012. See http://bit.ly/1mgfUhj and, for a prior mention with links, http://www.cp-dr.com/articles/node-3467. The charter description is linked from the city site at http://www.costamesaca.gov/index.aspx?page=1675, as are materials from March 18, April 22 and July 1 meetings on the issue.
In other news:
Josh Stephens on The Urban Mystique at SPUR: January 19
On Tuesday, January 19, please join CP&DR Contributing Editor Josh Stephens and our friends at SPUR for a conversation about his book The Urban Mystique and the ineffable complexities that make all cities wondrous, maddening, and fascinating.