The City of Walnut has sued the neighboring City of Industry over the environmental study for a proposed football stadium and 560-acre commercial project.
Industry last year approved an office and retail development on the site, near the junction of Highways 60 and 57. Since then, developer Majestic Realty has altered the project to include a 75,000-seat stadium for a professional football team and numerous entertainment venues (see CP&DR Places, June 2008). Walnut requested a new environmental impact report (EIR) on the revised project. Instead, Industry approved a supplemental EIR.
Walnut's suit argues the supplemental document does not adequately address noise, traffic, air, lighting, aesthetic and other impacts. The suit also says Industry should have provided information in languages other than English, because many area residents speak foreign languages.
Interestingly, football stadium detractors have started a recall drive against three Walnut officials – Mayor Mary Su and Councilmembers Joaquin Lim and Nancy Tragarz – because they have not opposed the stadium strongly enough.
The controversy over two lightening-rod projects in Loma Linda has concluded with the City Council rescinding its approval of the projects. The city in 2005 approved the Orchard Park and University Village projects totaling about 2,500 housing units and 1 million square feet of commercial space on 300 acres of orchards along Mission Road and California Street. Project opponents gathered petition signatures to force referendums on the two projects, but a Superior Court judge threw out the referendums because of technical defects. An appellate court last year reinstated the referendums (see CP&DR, September 2008; CP&DR Local Watch, December 2005).
Instead of placing the referendums before voters, the City Council in March rescinded its approvals. In the meantime, Loma Linda voters approved a slow-growth initiative that would prohibit such high-density projects. More recently, Lewis Group, the University Village proponent, has approached the city about a much smaller project containing single-family houses and apartments.
After five years of planning and negotiation, Forest City Enterprises has dropped a proposed 85-acre, mixed-use project in downtown Fresno. The developer said it could not raise the $100 million needed to advance its plan to redevelop 85 acres of industrial land just south of a minor league baseball stadium with an wide range of housing, retail, entertainment venues and offices. Forest City's departure disappointed the city, which granted the developer exclusive negotiating rights in 2004.
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has announced the formation of the Climate Law Institute to pursue legal challenges and lobby policymakers on matters concerning climate change. Over the last decade, the Tucson-based CBD has become the country's foremost player in Endangered Species Act litigation. The new climate institute, for which the CBD reports a five-year, $17 million budget, is based in San Francisco. The new institute's website is here.
The Schwarzenegger administration and state agencies are taking adequate steps to ensure $42.7 billion worth of infrastructure bonds are spent for their intended purposes, according to a report by the state auditor. Two years ago, the auditor reported there was a "high risk" the state would not use the bond proceeds in the most effective and efficient manner. In the new report, the auditor found that a governor's executive order and new state agency controls should provide assurance that bond funds get used as promised. The report is available on the state auditor's website.
A separate report by the state auditor found that agencies have not taken adequate steps to dispose of surplus properties since the release of a critical 2001 audit. Eight years ago, the auditor concluded the state did not carefully evaluate properties' usefulness to determine whether a sale was warranted. The auditor recommended adoption of new procedures and appointing a single entity with broad oversight of state properties.
The latest report found the state has taken some steps, but the auditor concluded, "The state still lacks assurance that underused or unused properties are sold to generate revenue or are put to better use. The state continues to operate without having empowered an existing agency or a new commission or authority to oversee and scrutinize the property-retention decisions of individual agencies although we recommended it do so eight years ago."
The auditor noted that Caltrans has established goals, performance agreements and reporting mechanisms that have resulted in the sale of numerous unneeded parcels since 2001. But the auditor was critical of the reliability of Caltrans' property database.
The new report is available here.