In Brief: Beaumont Removed From Regional Transportation Program

The Western Riverside Council of Governments has sued one of its members – the City of Beaumont – for failing to turn over Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fees (TUMF) to the council.
 
Riverside County and cities in the region began levying the TUMF fee on new development in 2003. The program has generated about $500 million to pay for local and regional transportation projects. Before the Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) agreed to cut the fee in half through December 31, 2010, in hopes of encouraging construction, the fee was $9,800 per house, $6,900 per multifamily unit and $10 per square foot of retail development.
 
The lawsuit claims that Beaumont has not remitted a "significant" amount of fees – ranging from $50 million to $60 million – owed to WRCOG, instead spending the money on improving city streets. In response, Beaumont officials contend that development agreements force the city to spend the money within Beaumont's limits, and that most of the city's street projects are similar to those on the TUMF list anyway.  
 
The council of governments fought back earlier this month when its members voted to remove Beaumont from the fee program. As a result, Beaumont will not receive about $500,000 in annual sales tax revenue designated for road repairs, because the revenue is available only to jurisdictions that participate in the TUMF program. City officials vowed to fight for their share of the money.
 



After nearly 10 years of planning, analysis and public meetings, Santa  Barbara County supervisors approved, by a 3-1 vote, a community plan that limits growth in the Santa Ynez Valley.
 
The plan covers about 72 square miles of unincorporated territory between Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, a largely rural and agricultural region with approximately 10,000 residents. The drawn-out planning process featured numerous battles between property owners and slow-growth advocates over how much development should be permitted and the best ways to preserve agricultural operations. Creating mixed-use overlay zones, the adopted plan directs most growth to the communities of Santa Ynez, Ballard and Los Olivas. The plan establishes 40-acre or larger minimum parcel sizes for most of the valley to protect agriculture and open space, and it provides a design overlay to safeguard views along Highways 154, 246 and 101, and Alamo Pintado Road.
 
Supervisor Joni Gray, who cast the dissenting vote, and Supervisor Joseph Centeno, who abstained, complained that the plan downzones rural parcels in violation of property rights. The plan is available at http://longrange.sbcountyplanning.org/planareas/santaynez/syv_cp.php.
 

 
Four dams on the Klamath River could be demolished as a result of an agreement among the states of California and Oregon, the utility that owns the dams, Indian tribes, federal agencies, environmental groups and water contractors.
 
For years, the tribes, fishermen, local governments in Humboldt County and environmentalists have sought removal of PacifiCorp's dams because they block access to salmon spawning grounds and alter the river's natural flow. In 2001, Klamath Basin farmers and federal officials tangled when the Bureau of Reclamation released more water to aid fish (see CP&DR Environment Watch, October 2001). The following year, the bureau increased farmers' water supply, causing poor downstream conditions and the death of thousands of migrating salmon.
 
Under the agreement, PacifiCorp customers in Oregon will pay $180 million in surcharges to fund removal of the dams, while California will kick in $250 million in bond money for the project. But even if all the promised money comes through and the environmental review process goes smoothly, it could be 10 years before any of the dams comes down.
 
The Board of Supervisors in Siskiyou County, where three of the dams are located (the fourth is in southern Oregon), strongly opposes knocking down the dams. County officials say dam removal would hurt farmers, lower property values and kill tourism related to the reservoirs.