After a lull during the off-year election of 2007, land use initiatives and referendums are starting to reappear on local ballots this June. Voters in at least seven jurisdictions are scheduled to decide measures that are related directly or indirectly to what gets built and where.
Plans to build the first new, large-scale ski resort in California in four decades — and the largest project in Lassen County history — appear to be in serious jeopardy.
The developers of the proposed Dyer Mountain Resort, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains west of Susanville, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late March. News of the filing has caused environmentalists to celebrate, and Lassen County officials to wait even longer on what supporters have called an important economic development opportunity.
Remember the cliché about "the deal you can't refuse?" The park-for-a-billboard caper in the city of Los Angeles is just such a deal. I'll tell you about it. (Just as soon, that is, as you put that bottle back in the bag where it belongs. I have no desire to add another item to my institutional resume.)
Granted, the billboard story is hard to explain, because at bottom this deal makes so little sense.
In this month's roundup of land use news: The Los Angeles City Planning Commission president gets her wish – a lawsuit against the city; Rancho San Juan conflict settled in Monterey County; planning director's role as head of LAFCO upheld by court; Napa County grand jury scrutinizes farmworker housing cost overruns.
The City of Half Moon Bay has reached a settlement agreement with a developer who won a takings lawsuit against the city. Last December, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker awarded developer Charles Keenan $36.8 million in damages, plus interest and attorney's fees, because an incomplete city drainage project had transformed an approved 24-acre housing project site into an unbuildable wetland (see CP&DR In Brief, January 2008).
A property owner that lost a California Environmental Quality Act suit against the City of San Rafael has been told to pay the city for costs incurred recovering emails related to the property and a proposed development project.
The state Supreme Court has accepted a case involving the baseline for an environmental impact report of a Southern California oil refinery project. The decision to accept the case means the state high court now has four California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) cases pending.
An environmental impact report is necessary for a 120-unit senior housing facility in the City of Grand Terrace, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled. The unanimous three-judge appellate panel upheld a trial court judge's ruling that a mitigated negative declaration for the project was inadequate.
The City of Baldwin Park is pressing forward with an extremely ambitious redevelopment project that would convert the present downtown area of mostly single story commercial structures and modest houses into a very high-density, mixed-use district adjacent to a Metrolink station. However, the city's extensive planning and a deal with a developer may be for naught if state voters approve eminent domain restrictions that will appear on the June ballot.
Dave Brown of Calabasas is this year's recipient of the American Planning Association's leadership award for a planning advocate. A member of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy advisory committee since 1985 and a Calabasas planning commissioner since 1992, Brown has been involved in land use and natural resources issues in the area since the 1970s. He received the award in part for his "overlooked but instrumental" role in creating the 153,000-acre Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. For 45 years he has been a history professor at Los Angeles Valley College, where he still teaches two classes. Brown spoke with CP&DR Editor Paul Shigley in April.