Plans to further regulate stormwater runoff in Los Angeles and Ventura counties crashed to a halt in July, when a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge threw out the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board's basin plan. The court ruled that the plan failed to balance regulation with economic and social impacts. Superior Court Judge Thierry Patrick Colaw ordered the regional board to halt all activities related to stormwater, national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permits, and total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for surface waters.

The immediate result of the ruling was the regional board's cancellation of a workshop scheduled in Ventura at which local officials were prepared to fight what they consider onerous proposed stormwater regulations (see CP&DR, April 2008).

Cities that have battled the basin plan and subsequent stormwater regulations argue that the plan is nothing more than a collection of numeric standards, and is not a policy document that takes into account environmental, economic and social factors. The regional board is likely to appeal the ruling in Arcadia v. State Water Resources Control Board, No. 06CC02974.

A peripheral canal "should be part of a long-term strategy for the Delta to serve both water supply and environmental objectives." That is the conclusion of a new report by Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) and University of California, Davis, researchers who advocate shipping water directly from the Sacramento River to canals located south of the Delta.

Current Delta management practices are neither ensuring water supplies nor protecting the environment, according to the study, called "Comparing Futures for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta."

Although ending all Delta water exports would be environmentally superior, that option is not economically feasible, the study's authors determined. They also rejected the concept of a "dual conveyance" system that would combine a peripheral canal with another canal through the Delta.

The report also recommends:

• Allowing some Delta islands to flood permanently because protecting the levees is not economically justifiable.

• Beginning to transition away from the current Delta management system so that natural forces and disasters do not cause a crisis.

• Developing a new framework for governance of a peripheral canal.

The report is available on the PPIC website,

The City of Whittier has become one of the latest to limit expansion of hookah bars. In July, the city imposed a 45-day moratorium on new smoking bars and lounges. Officials may extend the moratorium through the rest of the year.

Hookah bars have exploded in popularity among young adults in Southern California during recent years. The bars feature Middle Eastern water pipes through which people smoke a mixture of tobacco, sugar and fruit pulp. Whittier has only one hookah bar, but planners report interest in others. City officials said the moratorium would provide them time to draft new regulations.

Owners of vacant dwellings in the City of Temecula must register the units with the city, under a new ordinance the city adopted because of growing complaints about abandoned houses on which lenders have foreclosed. The city has also provided several workshops to help homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure.