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CP&DR News Briefs, March 10, 2015: L.A. Football Stadium Seeks Public Approval; Claremont Seeks Taking of Water Agency; Redlands Rail EIR Approved; and More

CP&DR Staff on
Mar 9, 2015

Proponents of a stadium that would jointly host the relocated Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers in Carson put together a ballot initiative to seek local approval for the project. The measure would approve the creation of a public authority in Carson, akin to the arrangement the 49ers used to build their new stadium, that would own the stadium and lease it back to the teams. Public approval would nullify many potential objections that might otherwise arise during environmental review and delay the project. This tactic was cleared with last year's Tuolumne court decision. The stadium has the backing of an investment group led by Goldman Sachs that lent $850 million to the public authority to finance construction, to be paid back by stadium revenue. In a major divergence in this plan from a concurrent plan for a stadium in Inglewood, presumably for the relocated St. Louis Rams, proponents say that the stadium will be publicly owned, but that no tax money would be spent on its construction. "Period. End of discussion. Not one penny [of city money] will go into the project," said an attorney representing the project.

Claremont Seeks Eminent Domain Taking of Water Agency

Seeing spiking water rates compared with those of neighboring communities, the City of Claremont initiated eminent domain proceedings to take over a private water agency that has served the community for 80 years. The suit, authorized by a unanimous city council vote, targets Golden State Water Co., an investor-owned purveyor whose rates are set regionally by the Public Utilities Commission. The city contends that the company has been overcharging residents; rates have doubled since 2008 and are now higher than they are in 10 cities immediately neighboring Claremont.  Claremont voters, by more than two to three margin also approved up to $135 million in bonds - paid for by increases in the water bills of taxpayers - to buy the system. The city has offered $55 million for the agency; attorneys for Golden State told Capitol Weekly that it is worth more than $100 million.

Final EIR Approved in Redlands Rail Project 

The Redlands Passenger Rail Project received final approval of its EIR, clearing the way for final design and construction later this year. The $242-million, nine-mile project will connect the cities of Redlands and San Bernardino via an existing right of way. Projecting population growth and increased congestion, and factoring in the physical barriers of the Santa Ana River and Interstate 10, in 2004 the San Bernardino County Association of Governments to look at cost-effective travel options for communities along the Redlands Corridor. SANBAG is expecting to have the service in operation in 2018.

Delta Property Owners Scramble to Prove Water Rights

Over 1,000 property owners across the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Central Valley are scrambling to prove they have a right to divert water from the system's streams. They are required to do so because of a state order from the State Water Resources Control Board, which may order owners who can't submit proof - sometimes buried in county parcel maps dating back to the 1850s - to stop diverting water entirely as California enters its fourth year of drought. State agencies suspect that water released from their reservoirs is being inappropriately diverted by property owners in the Delta as it flows past their land. "We had rights and used that water before the state even had any departments," said one property owner told the Sacramento Bee. "It's very difficult to prove it." The order went to 1,061 "senior rights" holders, meaning that they were given rights to the water before 1914.

Study: L.A.'s Heat Island Reduces Fog

A new report by Columbia University suggests that growth of the Los Angeles region's urban footprint is causing the city's fog to dissipate. The study shows that the frequency of fog over the city, including the famous "June gloom," has decreased by 63 percent since 1948 because of the "heat island effect," in which urban areas become hotter during the day as heat is trapped in concrete surfaces. Besides the environmental consequences, the report warns that the disappearance of fog could have economic impacts as temperatures rise and use of air conditioning increases.

Redondo Beach Voters Let Power Plant Stand

Despite the pleasant seaside location of Redondo Beach, the city's landscape is dominated by the industrial hulk of a now shuttered power plant. This month city voters rejected a redevelopment for the plant, with only 48 percent of voters voting yes on Measure B. The measure, which roused passions on both sides, was sponsored by AES, which owns the site. It would have allowed for the site, blocks from the beach, to be redeveloped into a hotel, retail space, and 600 residential units. Despite widespread distaste for the plant, opponents of the measure argued that it would have led to overdevelopment and intolerable traffic. They have called on AES and the city to consider a more modest development plan.

Kids' Health Benefits from L.A.'s Decrease in Smog

Generations after the Los Angeles area first declared a war on smog, health indicators among the region's children are vastly improved. A study by the University of Southern California, published last week, found that the percentage of children with impaired lung function has dropped by half since 1994. The study followed children in high-pollution communities, including Long Beach, Riverside, and San Dimas, comparing lung health of children in those areas today compared to that of 20 years ago. USC says that it is the first such study to track changes over time. The Los Angeles area has combated pollution in a number of fronts in recent years, requiring truck and ship engines and stricter pollution controls on industrial facilities. Fine particle pollution has declined by up to 50 percent over the past 20 years. The region remains one of the nation's most polluted.

CP&DR at California APA Conference October 1-4

CP&DR supports APA conference in Anaheim (and online), Oct. 1-4, with panel discussion, booth, special offers. >>read more

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