Gov. Schwarzenegger's unilateral decision to eliminate payments to counties that offer Williamson Act tax breaks to owners of agricultural land has raised doubts about the future of the state's largest farmland-preservation program. Many representatives of the affected counties have said they would like to remain in the program. But the end of state subventions that help offset lost property tax revenue is causing many counties to re-evaluate their participation.
A state appellate court ruling striking down an affordable housing mandate in the City of Los Angeles could have statewide implications. Affordable-housing advocates and municipal attorneys say the decision, if it stands, calls into question inclusionary housing ordinances that require developers to set aside and price a certain percentage of new rental units at below-market rates.
State lawmakers say that water and the Bay Delta should be the Legislature's top priorities until it recesses on September 11. Democratic lawmakers have introduced a five-bill package that they insist provides a framework for moving forward with the co-equal goals of Delta ecosystem restoration and increased water supply reliability. Republican lawmakers, however, said the package leans too heavily toward environmental considerations at the expense of water reliability.
Although freeways have helped shape the development of California, very few new freeways have been built since the 1980s. The focus has instead been on widening existing freeways, and adding carpool and transit lanes. But in Riverside County, where construction and development are major economic drivers, county officials are trying to add a new east-west freeway.
In this roundup of news: The Orange County planning director resigns only days after the Board of Supervisors ordered a task force to overhaul the department; Irvine amends its agreement with developers of the old El Toro base; Stockton's downtown redevelopment takes a hit; Santee sues San Diego County over jail expansion; Palo Alto adopts a private street ballot initiative.
Two Bush administration policies for managing national forests were invalidated by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in early August. One three-judge panel blocked implementation of a 2004 amendment to the Sierra Nevada Framework that governs all 11 national forests in the mountain range. A second panel rejected the Forest Service's attempt to eliminate a Clinton-era rule prohibiting development in designated roadless areas of national forests.
A state appellate court has reinstated the results of a local ballot initiative that authorize a large development near the San Luis Obispo County airport. A trial court judge had thrown out the initiative on the grounds that it was superceded by the State Aeronautics Act and that the ballot measure amounted to an "adjudicative" rather than a legislative act. The Second District Court of Appeal disagreed, ruling that the aeronautics law did not preclude the initiative and that it was appropriately legislative in nature.