Proposals to create two new state conservancies - one covering as much as a quarter of the state and one focused on a single Southern California river - are alive in the state Legislature. A proposed Sierra Nevada Conservancy appears to have gained some bipartisan momentum, while a proposed Santa Ana River Conservancy struggles to gain ground. Neither proposal is a sure thing during this budget-constrained legislative session. >>read more
The big box wars continue unabated in California, with retail giant Wal-Mart losing one high-profile round but winning elsewhere. In early April, City of Inglewood voters rejected an initiative endorsed by Wal-Mart that would have required the city to approve, without environmental review, a 60-acre retail development between Hollywood Park race track and The Forum. A Wal-Mart supercenter was at the heart of the proposed shopping center. >>read more
In a remarkable political turnabout, two land use organizations that vigorously fought one another during the 2000 election in Sonoma County have issued a joint report calling for more intensive city-centered growth to protect agriculture and natural resources. San Francisco-based Greenbelt Alliance and the Sonoma County Farm Bureau jointly released "Preventing Sprawl: Farmers and Environmentalists Working Together."
Long a land of big dreams and failed schemes, California City has lured a major automobile company to town with a redevelopment deal and environmental planning assistance. In March, Hyundai Motor America started building a test track and related facilities in California City that will employ about 100 people, which would make Hyundai the second largest employer in town. The project does have detractors, though.
An environmental impact report for a water pipeline project near Jackson has been rejected because the water agency in charge did not explain the reason why it concluded that a potential impact was not significant.
A state appellate court has refused to block the City of San Francisco's plan to lease former state highway property to a nonprofit agency for development of an affordable housing project. A First District Court of Appeals, Division Four, panel voted 2-1 to uphold a lower court's ruling against project opponents, who contended the city plan violated state law that limited the use of the property.
Architects often talk about the need to design with an awareness of context, but few architects have taken the issue as literally as Richard Matteson. The Los Angeles-based architect has designed a building that, from certain angles, not only fits in with the surrounding landscape-in this case, a lush forest in a Los Angeles canyon-but from certain angles is well-nigh invisible.
Many years ago, overwhelmed by the sheer size of the numbers involved in modern society, humor columnist Russell Baker suggested that we should replace all numbers greater than 10,000 with the word "lotsa." As in, McDonald's has sold lotsa hamburgers. Social Security entitlements involve lotsa money. A war requires lotsa missiles. These days, a house in California costs lotsa money. Inevitably, the planning system gets blamed for the mess. >>read more
A story in the March edition regarding the Castaic Lake Water Agency's urban water plan listed incorrect terms of office for Lynne Plambeck. She has been a member of the Newhall County Water District board since 1999. She previously was a member from 1993 to 1997, when her slow-growth alliance controlled the board majority.
Red flags went up in the environmental community during May 2002 when the Bush administration announced it was forming a task force to "modernize and improve" the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Two years later, release of the task force's final report suggests that many of the fears voiced by defenders of this landmark federal statute have yet to materialize.