The Merced County Association of Governments board approved a Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy September 25. Choosing between a "Scenario A" that assumed continuing growth trends, and a "Scenario B" that presumed a 35% density increase over current trends, the board chose "B". Neither version meets the Air Resources Board's prescribed goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 10% by 2035, so an Alternative Planning Strategy will need to be prepared as required under SB 375. The fairness of San Joaquin Valley county-by-county goals is an ongoing matter of debate. See, e.g. A staff report included in the MCAG September 27 agenda said that, if considered as a three-county group, Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties would meet the 10% goal, though Merced County by itself would not. See for the September 25 agenda and staff reports and for the plan.

LA County Regional Planning approves first of three major Antelope Valley documents

The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission voted September 27 to approve the Antelope Valley Area Plan Update. The measure is the first among three major land use documents affecting large tracts of currently open land across the northern and northeastern desert lands of unincorporated LA County. The plan concentrates development in three "Economic Opportunity Areas" (EOAs) and increases the dimensions of Significant Ecological Areas (SEA) but may change their effect. It sets the zoning stage for a future specific or community plan to build the proposed Centennial new town along Highway 138.

The Antelope Valley Press, available by subscription at, reported the approval vote was unanimous after an amendment reduced the application of SEA designations to the EOA affecting the Centennial site. Developers affiliated with the Tejon Ranch have proposed to build 23,000 housing units there. However, the paper reported the most discussed concern at the meeting was whether a broad agricultural zoning change would make large solar arrays easier to build.

The county's public site for the September 27 meeting is at Plan documents are available via The same site links to materials on the Draft EIR for the plan, which is still open for public comment through October 6.

In a separate but closely related process, Los Angeles County is revising the SEA element of its General Plan at A public hearing with the matter on its agenda is set for October 8 but a vote on the proposed SEA Ordinance is not expected that day. See SEAs exist throughout the county but most prominently in northern areas addressed by the Antelope Valley planning process.

HUD opens competition for $1 billion in resilience funds

In a new commitment to framing public services as disaster preparedness, HUD announced a competition for $1 billion in "disaster resilience" funds. See for the HUD site. Smart Growth America has announced a webinar on the program for October 8. Details are at The grant program announcement follows a prior group of grants by the Rockefeller Foundation to cities to hire "Chief Resilience Officers. For coverage of the Rockefeller-supported local programs see e.g.

Transbay Transit Center deal uncertain

It's still unclear whether the Mello-Roos tax district deal among Transbay Transit Center landlords and San Francisco officials will survive a breakdown in negotiations. See for San Francisco Chronicle coverage. The deal is to help finance the downtown Transbay Tower and Caltrain extension.

In other news --

  • HUD's Office of Inspector General issued a report at criticizing Pomona's use and monitoring of federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds. It recommended that the city pay back $78,155 to the program and "support or repay" $584,148 in further spending.
  • The Fehr and Peers consulting firm announced it would make presentations about SB 743 jointly with OPR on October 30 in the Bay Area.
  • The Bakersfield Press-Enterprise reported that Palen Solar Holdings withdrew its application for a license to build a solar array feeding a 750-foot tower in Riverside County. See
    Virtu Investments bought the big Natomas Ridge complex in Sacramento. See
  • The California Public Utilities Commission, Sacramento Area Council of Governments, and others have written to Benicia city officials urging them to study the impacts more deeply before approving a Valero Refining Company plan to bring two oil trains a day across Sacramento-area tracks. See Kern County has already approved a large oil train plan to run to a refinery in Bakersfield. See
  • The three-foot buffer law for cyclists is now in effect:
  • Marin County and the City of Oakland are talking about rent control. See and
    San Francisco Chronicle architecture critic John King wrote a favorable review of Fremont's planning for the Warm Springs BART area, suggesting it would outdo San Francisco's Mission Bay by accepting more diverse and welcoming designs. See