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CP&DR News Briefs September 27, 2022: Parking Minimums; Ventura Co. Oil Wells; Susanville Prison Closure; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Sep 27, 2022

Governor Signs Bill Striking Down Many Parking Minimums
In a move eagerly anticipated by advocates of both housing and active transportation, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 2097, legislation authored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman and co-sponsored by California YIMBY, which significantly restricts cities' ability to impose parking minimums on new developments statewide. Parking minimums will no longer be allowed for housing, retail and other commercial developments within a half-mile of major public transit stops. Developers may still provide parking voluntarily. The law is intended, in part, to reduce the costs of development and to encourage residents and commercial patrons to travel without cars. “California has a severe housing shortage, not a parking shortage,” said Brian Hanlon, CEO of California YIMBY, in a statement. “AB 2097 is landmark legislation – it prioritizes affordable housing for people while eliminating costly parking mandates that are a significant cause of climate pollution in our state.” (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Attorney General Supports Ventura County's Efforts to Protect Residents from Oil Wells
Attorney General Rob Bonta filed an amicus brief in defense of Ventura County's 2040 General Plan, which includes a number of policies to protect the health and safety of communities who live, work, or go to school near oil and gas sites. Ventura is one of California's top oil and gas producing counties, and the majority of its wells are located in or near low-income communities and communities of color. While several fossil fuel companies, industry lobbying groups, and labor associations have filed lawsuits against the county's General Plan, Bonta's brief argues that the plan is essential for providing protections against toxic oil and gas drilling pollution.

Susanville Loses CEQA Challenge to Impending Prison Closure
A judge dismissed a CEQA-based legal challenge filed by the Lassen County town of Susanville keep its Correctional Center open, allowing the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to move forward with closing the Northern California prison. Originally, state officials hoped to shut down the prison by June 30, 2023, but local lawmakers stalled the process out of economic concern that the town would lose over 1,000 prison jobs, which makes up about 45% of Susanville's employment. The town argued that the state violated CEQA by failing to consider the prison closure's potential environmental impacts. Roughly 45% of the town's population is employed by the prison. Ultimately, the court's decision did not hinge on CEQA; the court cited a recently passed law that exempts the closure of prisons from CEQA review.

CP&DR Coverage: The (Positive) Legacy of the Internal Combustion Engine
Gov. Gavin Newsom's recent order, devised in collaboration with the Air Resources Board, to ban the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035 promises to do wonders for the state's air quality and its contribution to the world's carbon emissions. While environmentalists may bid gas motors good riddance, urbanists should take a moment to appreciate their impact on major statewide policies that promote urban density and alternative transportation. Bills such as SB 375 and SB 743 were devised in order to reduce measurable GHG emissions -- with the collateral benefit of making cities more pleasant and liveable. California's planners must continue their work in that spirit, writes CP&DR's Josh Stephens, even when tailpipe emissions are a thing of the past. 

Quick Hits & Updates

Four "New Community Study Areas" included in San Benito County's 2035 General Plan as sites for commercial and residential developments will now be eliminated following a unanimous vote from the county's Board of Supervisors. They also intend to approve an urgency ordinance that would prohibit housing construction in these areas until the amendment is added.

A revised redevelopment plan for the Oceanside Transit Center includes a hotel, hundreds of housing units, retail spaces, offices, and nearly 1,800 parking spaces. The center would serve Amtrak, commuter, light-rail, and Metrolink trains as well as buses.

An independent report commissioned by the Menlo Park City Council has clarified that, if passed, a 2022 ballot measure would result in obstacles to affordable and teacher and staff housing. The report also found that Measure V would further racial and economic segregation and put the city at legal risk by limiting affordable housing construction.

Berkeley residents will vote on three measures aimed at tackling the housing crisis and inadequate infrastructure. The most expensive initiative is a $650 million bond measure that would raise money for housing, infrastructure, and climate projects while also minimally increasing property taxes.

Environmental activist and Coastal Commissioner Sara Wan passed away earlier this month. Wan was a passionate and dedicated advocate for the protection of the coast, its habitats, and its accessibility to the larger public.

Redlands' nine-mile Arrow line will soon be open for ridership. If train testing and training goes well, residents may begin to ride the new line between the University of Redlands and San Bernardino Transit Center this fall. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Some major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, are seeing out-migration slow down following dramatic trends of people leaving for other locations. Researchers suggest in-person work and increased unaffordability in previously cheaper cities may be responsible.

The Palmdale Planning Commission approved updates to the city's General Plan, which stresses the creation of "20-minute neighborhoods," where residents have quick access to jobs, transit, goods, services, and green spaces. The updates are awaiting approval from the city council.

The Air Resources Board has released a recirculated environmental analysis for the Draft 2022 Scoping Plan Update, which focuses on essential steps for achieving carbon neutrality. The draft environmental analysis studies the impacts of implementing the Scoping Plan and is available for public commentary until October 24, 2022.