The first local initiative to copy Oregon's Measure 37 may appear on the ballot in Napa County, possibly during this November's special election.

In late June, the Napa Valley Land Stewards Alliance submitted signed petitions on the “Fair Payment for Public Benefit Act.” The initiative would require the county to pay property owners when a new land use regulation decreases property values. If the county and a property owner cannot agree on an amount for compensation with 100 days, the property owner may go to court, under the initiative.

The initiative mimics the November 2004 initiative approved by Oregon voters (see CP&DR Insight, April 2005). Proponents are members of a group who helped defeat a county stream setback ordinance at a referendum election last year (see CP&DR, March 2004). Property rights advocates in other counties, including San Luis Obispo County, are considering placing similar initiatives on local ballots.

The Napa County initiative is available at

THE FRESNO COUNTY GRAND JURY has recommended the county implement a building moratorium “until proven water sources are located, developed and preserved.”

The mid-June report arrived just as a newly formed water advisory committee got started on a plan to bring together water agencies, developers, civic leaders and local government officials. The committee, headed by Clovis City Councilman Harry Armstrong, intends to inventory water supplies and recommend ways to improve water availability.

In recent months, Fresno County officials have been hesitant to approve new subdivisions in the eastern foothills because of both groundwater and surface water supply concerns (see CP&DR Local Watch, May 2005). Formation of the advisory committee and placing new requirements on groundwater users are among the steps the county has implemented - but those were apparently not enough for the grand jury.

“Without a regional oversight of water use and sales, the rapid growth in Fresno County is a potential disaster,” reported the grand jury, which also found, rather surprisingly, that agriculture consumes less water per acre than houses.

The grand jury report received a mixed reception. “I guess I was really disappointed in the fact that they would make any statement about water at all until the county's water study is done,” Supervisor Bob Waterson told the Fresno Bee.

THE CITY OF BERKELEY and the University of California have settled a lawsuit that the city filed earlier this year over UC's Long Range Development Plan for the Berkeley campus.

The university agreed to work with the city on, and help pay for, a downtown area plan that would guide revitalization of the city's core. Additionally, UC agreed to reduce new parking spaces by half to 1,270, increase annual payments for municipal services and programs from $500,000 to $1.2 million, explore a “use tax” on campus purchases of out-of-state goods, and consider programs that favor hiring Berkeley residents and buying local products. City officials agreed to drop their demands for additional sewer fees and for parking surcharges.

The long-range plan calls for building 2.2 million square feet of space for additional academic and support programs over 15 years (see CP&DR Public Development, June 2005). However, city officials said the plan burdened city services and did not protect city desires for off-campus development.

The proposed downtown plan would not be binding on UC, but both UC and city officials said they expect the plan would strongly influence university building decisions.

“This agreement ensures our community will have a real voice in future development by the university, provides funding for vital city services, and reinforces out commitment to reducing traffic congestion and improving transit alternatives,” Mayor Tom Bates said.

Still, three of nine City Council members voted against the settlement, and a group called Berkeleyans for a Livable University Environment said they would try to carry on the litigation without the city.

MARIN COUNTY HAS SUED the state Department of Corrections over the environmental impact report (EIR) for the construction a new death row at San Quentin. In a lawsuit filed in June, the county argues that the EIR does not adequately address project alternatives, or impacts on nearby communities such as traffic congestion, lighting glare and ugly aesthetics.

Marin County officials and some civic groups want the state to build a new condemned inmate facility elsewhere (see CP&DR Public Development, April 2005). But state officials say the $220 million project belongs at California's longtime home of death row.

THE CITY OF MISSION VIEJO HAS DROPPED its lawsuit over Orange County's approval of a 14,000-unit development on Rancho Mission Viejo (see CP&DR Local Watch, January 2005).

The city filed its lawsuit because of traffic concerns. The settlement calls for the county to give priority to improving two intersections and two parkways that serve Mission Viejo residents and that will carry traffic from the new development.

A lawsuit filed by environmentalists is still pending.

OPPONENTS OF A PLAN TO EXPAND the San Diego Zoo lost the first round of their lawsuit when San Diego County Superior Court Judge Ronald Prager confirmed a tentative ruling against the group Preserve Our Parks. The group contends that the city should not have approved the zoo expansion and an environmental impact report before completing a parking study for all of Balboa Park, a study that the city has yet to finish.

The city approved the zoo plan last year after years of planning and debate (see CP&DR In Brief, June 2001; Public Development, April 2000). The plan calls for expanding the zoo onto what is now the zoo's surface parking lot, and building a new parking structure underground. The city and zoo, however, currently lack funds to carry out the $300 million project.

THE TRANSBAY TERMINAL IS BACK on track - maybe. In June, the First District Court of Appeal lifted an injunction halting work on the project while a California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit over the project proceeds.

A San Francisco judge halted work in May after he found that the EIR for the multi-modal transportation hub was inadequate because the study did not consider the project's impact on a condominium project planned across the street (see CP&DR In Brief, May 2005; Public Development, August 2004). The First District, however, said work may proceed while an appeal of the Superior Court's ruling on the EIR is pending.