Although the state's mounting budget deficit is expected to predominate in Sacramento for many months, 2008 could be a blockbuster year for land use legislation. Scores of bills related to planning, the California Environmental Quality Act, redevelopment, housing, the Subdivision Map Act, and other land use matters have been introduced during the first two months of the year or remain leftover from 2007.
This month's news roundup: The Legislative Analyst's Office has recommended that state lawmakers take charge of the Salton Sea restoration efforts; Stockton makes progress in court; the Coastal Commission runs a marathon; Santa Monica's mall closes for an overhaul.
A key document in the evolving methodology for evaluating development's impact on climate change has been released by the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association.
Called "CEQA & Climate Change – Evaluating and Addressing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Projects Subject to the California Environmental Quality Act," the white paper is lengthy (more than 140 pages), detailed and highly technical.
The city of Dublin in Alameda County bears little resemblance to the English countryside of the late 1800s. The scene is not sylvan, to put it mildly. Instead of a landscape of mills, farms and contented cows, we see one of the Bay Area's fastest growing cities, proliferating with enormous apartment blocks and office buildings. Although there are easily accessible, undeveloped hills rising just beyond the west and east sides of Dublin, it's doubtable that Constable, the painter of lowing herds and hayricks, would have memorialized the town on canvas.
What Dublin and the English countryside of 100 years ago have in common, however, are carefully planned villages that attempt to combine city living, including factory work and shopping, with the healthfulness of open space and farms.
Although redevelopment often seems like a never-ending process, redevelopment of Old Town Monrovia is nearly complete. The city is now switching its focus to redevelopment of an 80-acre area about one mile south of Old Town and studying how to tie together the two areas.
The Second District Court of Appeal has rejected the environmental review of an oil refinery project in Wilmington and Carson because the South Coast Air Quality Management District used an improper baseline for measuring impacts. Instead of relying on the refinery's permitted level of nitrogen oxides emissions for the baseline, the air district should have used the actual level of emissions, which was less than half the permitted amount, the court ruled.
Stanislaus County voters became the first in the Central Valley to approve a county-wide growth-control initiative when they backed a ballot measure that prohibits the rezoning of agricultural land for residential uses without voter approval.
While voters in what had been growth-friendly Stanislaus County endorsed growth control, voters in Santa Clara and Rocklin backed specific housing projects. Meanwhile, voters in San Clemente overturned the city's approval of a condominium project. Also on Super Tuesday, voters in the western Riverside County community of Wildomar supported incorporation, but voters in the Sierra foothills community of Oakhurst rejected formation of a new city.
Is Gov. Schwarzenegger's "Strategic Growth Council" simply the latest in a decades-long string of gubernatorial efforts to make it look like they're dealing with growth? Or can Schwarzenegger actually take coherent action on growth by appointing a Cabinet-level council devoted to the issue?
A pro-development initiative in San Luis Obispo County was not the proper subject for an initiative, a San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge has ruled. Meanwhile, a slow-growth initiative approved by Loma Linda voters in 2006 was upheld by a San Bernardino County Superior Court judge.