An appellate court has set aside the City of Watsonville's general plan on grounds that it is incompatible with the State Aeronautics Act, and because the city failed to consider a lower growth alternative in the general plan's environmental impact report. The ruling is the latest development in Watsonville growth wars that extend back to the 1980s.
This case is another instance in which the supposed primacy of a general plan has, on a selected basis, been subverted to other special purposes, such as coastal planning, preservation of San Francisco Bay and Lake Tahoe and, as in Watsonville, airport planning.
Don't be fooled by the peaceful, pastoral look of West Village, a proposed housing development on the campus of UC Davis.
"Shucks," the conceptual site plan seems to say, "I'm just a little old country town. See my bib overalls?"
I'm not falling for it. West Village may be bucolic and all, but this 220-acre project, intended to provide rental housing for students and for-sale housing to faculty, shows an uncompromising commitment to sustainability. Although pastoralism is not always the same thing as environmentalism, in this case it comes with some hard-minded environmentalism.
Though the economic prosperity and real estate boom of the past decade may seem like a distant memory, it wasn't more than two or three years ago that planning departments around the state were buried in paperwork. From sprawling subdivisions to loft renovations, developers sent them all the work they could handle. Some planning agencies even complained that attention to case processing prevented them from actually planning.
Today, planning departments are as overburdened as ever, but for completely different reasons.
A state appellate court has upheld the environmental impact report for expansion of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It found that project opponents had forfeited most of their claims because they had failed to raise them at the administrative level. The court also ruled that the range of project alternatives that the lab considered, within a carefully articulated range of project objectives, was adequate.