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.
Covered by chaparral and dry brush, the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties are at a perennial risk of wildfire. And when the seasonal Santa Ana winds sweep through, they bring Apocalyptic storms of fire and ash that rain down on, and sometimes consume, the communities that press up against these slopes.
In planning, as with anything else, the progress does not arrive merely with the flow of time. The enthusiasm and ideas that swept over these pages in the first decade of this century -- smart growth, downtown revitalization, AB 32, SB 375, and all the rest -- are now met with delay, deferral, and, in some cases, bankruptcy.
California has a yet another seismic threat to prepare for, thanks to a set of new maps that depict a ferocious line of water that may, if earth moves in just the wrong way, someday surge inland along the state's coastline. Experts are saying that these new maps should be used to plan for emergency evacuations, not changes in land use planning. In at least one case, however, the Coastal Commission is already considering policies that would take tsunamis into account when approving developments.
Upholding a 27-year-old California Supreme Court determination, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled that local agencies may impose a fee for the filing of an administrative appeal of a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) decision.
The old saying in government is that in order to understand what's going on, you've got to follow the money. In local planning throughout California, that's becoming increasingly easy to do. Local government revenues - property tax, sales tax, development fees, redevelopment funds - are in steep decline.
In yet another California Environmental Quality Act case involving whether an agreement between a tribe and a city constitutes a "project," the First District Court of Appeal has held that the law did not apply to an agreement requiring a city's formal support of a proposed casino in exchange for the tribe's funding of undefined city services and improvements.