For some affordable-housing activists and local governments, SB 628, the end-of-session bill expressing Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal for Enhanced Infrastructure Finance Districts, isn't similar enough to the way redevelopment programs worked when they were shut down as of 2011. (See last week's detailed coverage at http://www.cp-dr.com/articles/node-3563.) But columnist Steven Greenhut in the San Diego Union-Tribune greeted SB 628 by asking, "Redevelopment: Back with a vengeance?"
Greenhut's widely circulated commentary warned against potential for "eminent-domain abuse and debt spending." See http://bit.ly/1olyiY2. It also picked up a sidelight on the bill's passage: "It passed by one vote in the Senate, with that coming from Senate Republican leader Bob Huff, whose wife has worked for one of the bill's prominent supporters (City of Industry's Ed Roski, who is pursing an NFL stadium there)." For that association he cites to a 2011 news report on Huff in the LA Times at http://lat.ms/1AxvTPM.
Governor Brown is considered likely to sign the bill.
EPA sides with critics of the Delta tunnel plan
As you've likely heard, the EPA reported in late August that the Bay Delta Conservation Project (BDCP) twin-tunnels scheme may violate federal law by reducing fresh water flow into the Delta. For an account by the Sacramento Bee's Matt Weiser, see http://bit.ly/1xHxxSS. Bettina Boxall of the LA Times also caught the story at http://lat.ms/1qgQ8RT. Via Boxall and the AllGov Web site, which posted its own account at http://bit.ly/1qEesML, here's a link to the 43-page EPA letter itself: http://1.usa.gov/1pbrCer. The letter is dated August 26. On August 27 the BDCP planning Web site announced at http://bit.ly/1rAodNT that the proponent agencies would publish a partially recirculated draft offering proposed revisions to the environmental impact documents "in early 2015." Editorializing at http://bit.ly/1pOmE7w, the Modesto Bee said it was about time the Delta project was questioned at a high level. The Stockton Record's Alex Breitler noted that in the September 4 gubernatorial debate, Republican Neel Kashkari said the project should be stopped, while Governor Brown said the plan "isn't cooked yet". See http://bit.ly/1qgR9cB. Breitler has a little more of that debate exchange on his blog at http://bit.ly/1AxG1rS.
Water bond ballot argument viewing period closes Sept 12
A 20-day public review period opened on the ballot arguments for the statewide water bond ballot measure. The period's closing date is September 12. For background from the Association of California Water Agencies see http://bit.ly/1orK4Af. For the review page itself see http://bit.ly/1tBSMjQ. The Sacramento Bee was reporting "strong early support" for the measure as of September 10. See http://bit.ly/1lUjoMY.
Fresno City Council rejects planning grant rather than favor high-speed rail
Fresno's City Council reportedly chose by a tough, close vote at its August 21 meeting to turn down $1 million in planning grants for the city's projected high-speed rail station. The Fresno Bee reported at http://bit.ly/1lSTo4F that while Mayor Ashley Swearengin supported the high-speed rail program, several City Council members opposed it intensely, viewing it as a misplaced use of money alongside local drought-worsened hardships.
The August 21 vote was Swearengin's second try to get the planning grant through after a prior rejection. In discussing the issue's history August 10, reporter George Hostetter wrote in the Bee that "station planning in Fresno has turned into a proxy for a bigger fight on the bullet train's life or death." (See http://bit.ly/1wfPsM8.) The Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted to oppose the whole high-speed rail project in July. (See http://bit.ly/1o9zzVd.)
Funding comes through for South Bay Area BART extension
In August a major round of California transportation funding awards included a crucial $39 million installment to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority to finish the BART extension through Milpitas and Berryessa stations toward arrival (at last) in San Jose. See http://bit.ly/1lSLd8q for the VTA official announcements.
Urban ag gets planning support in Sacramento, arguments in San Francisco
Urban agriculture was getting favorable attention in Sacramento -- the Bee reported at http://bit.ly/1lNen8R that the city is working on planning changes to allow more urban farming. But San Francisco's tax incentives for urban farming got slanged in an early-September snark spat of the week: the Atlantic published a commentary this month in which Conor Friedersdorf claimed San Francisco's tax incentives for urban farming were helping to drive up local rents. (See http://theatln.tc/1nWPqmN.) Co.Exist hooted at the idea similarly at http://bit.ly/1qIJv8y. But Eli Zigas of SF's local SPUR organization posted a rebuttal in CityLab at http://bit.ly/1tF5pNA saying San Francico's program "targets land that is unlikely to be developed in the near future" and makes use of places that might otherwise be neglected.
Fresno extends General Plan comment deadline
Fresno extended the comment deadline on its 2035 General Plan draft until October 9. For city materials and comment instructions see http://bit.ly/1rW40SY.
A big-picture view of the Fig bike fight
Drew Reed has a detailed look at the Figueroa Street bike-lane controversy in CityMetric at http://bit.ly/1pOpWb8, laying out some of the conflict that unfolded over the summer between bicycle activists and City Council member Gil Cedillo. For more from a bicyclists' point of view, see the "Fig4All" campaign's Web site at http://www.fig4all.org or its more frequently updated @fig4all Twitter account. For a sampling of this summer's arguments about it, and the text of a letter Cedillo distributed last summer, see Streetsblog LA at http://bit.ly/1oOrIMl.
Carlsbad campaign forms against vacation rentals
The Orange County area's Coast News reported at http://bit.ly/1shDmC7 that a campaign is afoot in Carlsbad (as in many larger towns) to limit short-term vacation rentals. Problems cited include neighborhood disruption and the economic pressure created by higher profits compared with long-term residential rentals.
Kern blaming LA for waste dumping again
Disputes over waste between Kern and Los Angeles Counties didn't end with a State Supreme Court ruling that sided against LA over its use of sewage "biosolids" as fertilizer on Kern County land. (see http://www.cp-dr.com/articles/node-3561). Now the LA Times reports Kern is trying to fine its richer neighbor up to $895,000 for allegedly dumping 100 tons of yard trimmings near Lebec without observing quarantine rules for agricultural pests. See http://lat.ms/1pC1BVU.
Brown likely to sign plastic bag bill; local reactions vary
SB 270, the bill by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, to ban single-use plastic bags, has become, if anything, further politicized since it squeaked through the Legislature in the end-of-session rush. (See http://www.cp-dr.com/articles/node-3564 on the bill's difficult ride last month.) Governor Jerry Brown still hasn't formally signed the bill, but during the September 4 gubernatorial debate, Brown said, he would "probably" sign it. (Republican candidate Neel Kashkari said he wouldn't.) See http://lat.ms/1rFh0tW for details.
Meanwhile the Orange County Tea Party blog made liberal (or, anyhow, ample) use of the epithet "nanny-state" in relaying local news reports on the state of bags in Huntington Beach via http://bit.ly/WRxWkU. As the blog noted, the Orange County Register reported the Huntington Beach City Council was waiting for Brown's decision to decide whether to undo its own bag ban. See http://bit.ly/1Brp4BE.
Whereas in San Luis Obispo (a district possibly less beset with concern for the right to bear paper or plastic), the League of California Cities spotted an item at http://bit.ly/1p5Yiq3 saying the City Council has moved on from plastic bags toward also restricting polystyrene, including Styrofoam.
Do Brown and Kashkari really agree on 'CEQA reform'?
Further in the Brown-Kashkari debate, the Sacramento-area Fox News 40 station reported at http://bit.ly/ZgAbQ5, "Brown, Kashkari Agree on CEQA Reform During Debate." The station highlighted a clip from the debate that focused on the special SB 743 provisions for the Sacramento Kings arena project, with a political commentator adding, "If the Kings can get it, why shouldn't everyone get it?".
On the other hand, Ethan Elkind noted on his blog that Brown had called Kashkari's approach to CEQA "glib". Elkind had a few further skeptical things to say about Kashkari's view of the subject at http://bit.ly/1shVz2k.
In Other News --
- Los Angeles Metrolink reported a continuing decline in fares and ridership. The LA Times has details at http://lat.ms/1lSIE6f.
- The LA Times at http://lat.ms/1oW1ZnD reported on a planning effort to densify and renew investment in the part-built Warner Center in Woodland Hills, in part by zoning for more commercial development and raising height restrictions.
- Best, Best & Krieger (at http://bit.ly/1tvCjfT) noted a libertarian take on California's housing affordability crisis and CEQA in The Economist at http://econ.st/1qKT1YT. The commentary draws partly on last month's affordability-shortage report by the California Housing Partnership Corporation at http://chpc.net/ (and see http://www.cp-dr.com/articles/node-3561).
- A widely mirrored Los Angeles Daily News editorial blamed CEQA for the Tesla factory's move to Nevada -- see http://bit.ly/1lSJHmG.
- A study at UC Davis reported California has allocated five times more surface water than exists in the state. See http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10999.
- A federal draft Environmental Impact Study is out for the Temperance Flat dam project. The Fresno Bee has details at http://bit.ly/1qgGUVu (via the Maven's Notebook blog). the DEIS itself is at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_projdetails.cfm?Project_ID=821. Comments are due October 21.
- The state Water Board is accepting comment until October 10 on a proposed amendment to local wastewater treatment rules, including for "wet weather overflows". The amendment has already passed San Francisco's regional water board and is now up for state-level approval. See http://bit.ly/1qgJ33E.
- A report by the Pacific Institute at http://pacinst.org/publication/hazards-toll/ says "massive public health and environmental costs" could result if no remediation work is done on the Salton Sea. The San Bernardino County Sun has details at http://bit.ly/1qAk6PC.
- The Sacramento Bee reports the Nature Conservancy has taken to renting wetlands from rice farmers for birds: http://bit.ly/1lSIyM1