With the economy humming along, innovative ideas sprouting up around the state, and, of course, the occasional dispute, 2015 was as lively a year for land use as any other in recent memory. To mark the new year, CP&DR presents its most-read stories of 2015.
About 80 years too late, the federal government has put real regulatory authority behind the duty of publicly funded agencies to "affirmatively further fair housing". It's being discussed as a genuine chance to desegregate the suburbs.
On July 8 the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued its final rule on "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing" (AFFH). Under the rule, state and local agencies receiving HUD funds must now do more than passively study barriers to fair housing: they must also make and follow genuine plans to reduce the barriers they describe.
The new HUD rule was backed -- arguably, was made possible -- by the U.S. Supreme Court's unexpectedly liberal ruling of June 25 in Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. The high court upheld a claim of disparate-impact discrimination against the Texas agency that allocates low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC). In the court's words, the group bringing the claim "alleged the Department has caused continued segregated housing patterns by its disproportionate allocation of the tax credits, granting too many credits for housing in predominantly black inner-city areas and too few in predominantly white suburban neighborhoods."
CEQA's future has been in holding patterns across all California's branches of government this summer. But while big things are expected any day in the administrative or judicial branch, CEQA is a sore and sour subject in the Legislature.
Smart growthers tout transit-oriented development more often than any other strategy. Yet with the exception of a few few showpiece developments, TOD has yet to catch fire in practice. This year, the American Planning Association recognized one such development in the hopes that, finally, the trend will catch on.
Sociologist Frederik Polak once said that "the future may well be decided by the images of the future with the greatest power to capture our imaginations and draw us to them, becoming self-fulfilling prophecies." The organizers the Rethink/LA, an eponymous group consisting of some of the city's creative intelligentsia, seem to agree. The exhibit, on display through Sept. 4 at the Architecture+Design Museum,present bold visions of a future Los Angeles that should challenge the thinking and capture the imaginations of most Angelenos.
Though the economic prosperity and real estate boom of the past decade may seem like a distant memory, it wasn't more than two or three years ago that planning departments around the state were buried in paperwork. From sprawling subdivisions to loft renovations, developers sent them all the work they could handle. Some planning agencies even complained that attention to case processing prevented them from actually planning.
Today, planning departments are as overburdened as ever, but for completely different reasons.
This month more Census forms will arrive in California mailboxes than in those of any other state. And, while anxieties about response rates and undercounts persist nationwide, it is likely that California will fill out and submit more of them than will any other state. In its rawest state, the resulting data will give planners their most fundamental piece of data - the sheer number of people the state must accommodate. >>read more
Back in the early 1990s, regionalism was the hot planning topic. Championed by then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, regionalism sought to organize a range of planning functions traditionally managed at the state and local levels into newly defined "regions" that would better reflect actual human activity and social function. >>read more