The University of California-Davis has laid out its "University of the 21st Century" plan to build $2 billion in graduate programs and a veterinary hospital in downtown Sacramento. The satellite campus would include two new schools, one focusing on population and global health and another a public policy institute, offering master's degree programs that could be expanded to undergraduate programs depending on demand, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said during the school's fall convocation. "We want to be visible," Katehi said in an interview with the Sacramento Bee. "We are the only UC so close to the state Capitol. … We need to create a name and a brand in the policy area. Whether it is food, water, energy sustainability or health, I think we can play an amazing role." UC Davis, which currently holds a UC-system-high $1.3 billion in deferred maintenance, is just one of three schools proposing satellite campuses in downtown Sacramento, also including The University of the Pacific and Sacramento State. Katehi said that the university will break ground immediately after the UC Board of Regents approves the plans, expecting to complete the first building within three years.
ABAG, MTC Spar Over Regional Planning Proposal
In the wake of the Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission's proposal to transfer all regional land use planning and research staff from the Association of Bay Area Governments to MTC, ABAG has issued a statement (pdf) opposing the transfer, saying that it could result in insolvency for ABAG. Requesting that the proposal not be fast-tracked, ABAG said that if the proposal comes for efficiency's sake, then the two organizations should collaborate and seek new ways to utilize fewer taxpayer dollars. However, if MTC is proposing the transfer because it is planning on taking on a new land use role, ABAG said that the two agencies should begin discussions about a merger.
Coastline in Danger of El Nino-Fueled Erosion
An international group of 17 experts says in a new report that California's coast is vulnerable to rapid erosion in coming years due to a battering from strong weather patterns like El Niño, which brings warmer eastern Pacific water to California and produces intense storms. The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, found that severe weather events in the entire Pacific basin have been increasing for more than 30 years and are expected to double. The scientists surveyed 48 beaches bordering the Pacific and analyzed detailed climate events around the Pacific stretching from 1979 to 2012, and they compared it with a study by coastal scientist Wenju Cai which found that increased global warming and rising sea levels due to climate change would double the frequency of those severe weather events across the Pacific basin.
Oakland to Abandon Coliseum Development
Oakland officials will likely abandon the ambitious public-private Coliseum City development plan that would have turned the Coliseum site into a retail, tech, and housing center with 32,000 jobs while building new stadiums for the Raiders and A's. Officials had brought in Floyd Kephart, a San Diego businessman, to try to find a financing source for the stadium, but nothing materialized as the city spent $3.5 million on studies and as the Raiders sought relocation to Carson. Now, Mayor Libby Schaaf told the SF Gate that she has to convince Raiders owner Mark Davis that the city can't pay for a $1 billion, football-only stadium, and that he might have to take on new partners to finance a deal.
‘Heat Island' Effect Especially Pronounced in Los Angeles
Greater Los Angeles has more of a "heat island effect," wherein the normal temperature of a city is raised as heat is trapped in concrete and pavement, than any other area in California, according to a new index from the California Environmental Protection Agency. According to the data, which used temperature records and atmospheric models to assess the temperature of various cities across California and then compared those temperatures with nearby rural areas that see similar heat, temperatures in some parts of LA could jump by 19 degrees due to the heat island effect. "We call it not an urban heat island but an urban heat archipelago because it's like a whole chain of urban heat islands that run into each other," Gina Solomon, Deputy Secretary for Science and Health with CalEPA, told KPCC. Solutions to the heat island effect in cities include planting more trees and bushes, painting roofs white so they don't absorb as much heat and using lighter colored concrete on streets and sidewalks.
O.C. Cities Take Aim at Short-Term Rentals
The cities of Anaheim and Santa Ana both passed 45-day emergency moratoriums on short-term rentals through websites like Airbnb following hundreds of complaints of loud parties, parking issues, and crime in the cities. In Anaheim, where the number of short-term rentals has doubled from 200 to 400 since the city established regulations last year, the moratorium will only prevent officials from accepting new applications to start rentals, while currently-permitted businesses won't be affected. Anaheim has recently seen a flood of homes converted into short-term rentals, especially in the area around Disneyland, and officials report that half of the permitted rental operators have pulled construction permits, likely to add multiple bedrooms to increase the number of lodgers. In Santa Ana, the moratorium will ban operations of any short-term rental. It comes in response to a vacation home rental in the affluent Floral Park that triggered outcry from residents.
San Diego Pursues Tech Solution to Project Review
The City of San Diego is seeking to bypass a traditional bidding process and immediately implement an $11 million contract with the nation's top "project tracking" software firm to process development projects more quickly and efficiently. The firm, Accela, today handle project tracking for 26 of the nation's 50 largest cities, and would replace the city's current in-house, makeshift tracking program that yearly handles 46,000 permits, processes 4,000 code enforcement cases, conducts 97,000 project reviews and handles 137,000 construction inspections. The five-year contract would cost the city $7 million during the first year. After that, the city would only pay $967,000 for a hosting fee and maintenance costs, is $217,000 more than what it spends currently.
L.A. County to Promote Urban Farming
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has begun work on plans to offer five-year tax breaks to property owners who allow community members to convert of vacant lots to urban farms. An assessor's report in June found that around 57,000 lots across the county could be eligible for the program, though individual cities would be able to choose whether or not to take part. The program follows last year's state-wide Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act, which allowed for the tax breaks should counties decide to implement it.
Water District May Purchase Islands in Delta
The Metropolitan Water District - Southern California's biggest water supplier - is discussing the purchase of four islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that could serve as a catalyst for the project to build two tunnels to transport water to Southern California cities. Plans for the tunnels are aligned geographically with two of the islands under discussion, and the islands are currently owned by Illinois-based Delta Wetlands Project, a public-private partnership that intended to turn Webb Tract and Bacon Island into reservoir islands during wet seasons to store 215,000 acre-feet of water. Critics of the potential sale are comparing it to the Owens Valley water wars, when Los Angeles built an acqueduct and acquired water rights through shady means in the early 1900s. "I find this really alarming," Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta executive director, told Inside Bay Area. "Farmers, communities, and fishing groups that live in the Bay-Delta Estuary region feel like the potential takeover of land and water rights by the Metropolitan Water District of California is akin to what happened to landowners in the Owens Valley who found their communities and water taken secretly by Los Angeles interests."
Carlsbad Revamps General Plan
The City of Carlsbad has adopted its first General Plan update since 1994, including the city's first-ever Climate Action Plan and an accompanying Environmental Impact Report. The plan came as a result of eight years of work in public outreach that ultimately involved 8,000 residents and 100 community groups and organizations. Among other things, the plan will reduce the maximum number of homes that can be built in two proposed residential areas, and it summarized nine core values of Carlsbad, partially including: a small town feel, access to recreation, sustainability, and neighborhood revitalization.
Oakland Sues Wells Fargo over Predatory Lending
The Oakland city attorney's office has sued Wells Fargo in federal court alleging predatory lending practices against the city's black and hispanic residents, exacerbated during the housing crisis. The lawsuit, which alleges that Wells Fargo gave higher-risk loans to minority borrowers even if they qualified for favorable loans routinely given to white borrowers, asked the court to order Wells Fargo to end discriminatory practices and compensate the city for financial harm. From 2006 to 2011, banks issued more than 22,000 notices of default to Oakland homeowners, according to the Urban Strategies Council.
Port of Long Beach Considers Options for Major Waterfront Parcel
The Port of Long Beach has begun asking industry leaders, environmental groups, and the community for suggestions on how to best redevelop a largely vacant 150-acre pier on Terminal Island. Currently, about 30 acres is being used as a storage facility for loaded cargo containers and chassis called Pier S, which port officials have praised as an effective small-scale project to move cargo efficiently. "The success of the Pier S demonstration project has encouraged us to consider a more expansive use of the property to build on what [we] learned about the efficiency of near-dock operations," said Port CEO Jon Slangerup in a statement. "The closing of the temporary depot on Pier S gives the Port an opportunity to study a more permanent use for the site, one that will mesh with our ongoing supply chain optimization effort."