Preliminary plans were recently revealed Los Angeles's 77-year old union station modernization project. The plans (including four design concepts) focus on the integration of the stateís High Speed Rail system with the cityís historic transit hub. Additionally, the improvements aim to enhance the passenger experience by adding restaurants and retail, centralizing alternate terminals and improving connectivity and accessibility to its surrounding neighborhoods. The project team hopes to present its final design plan to the L.A. Metro board.
Pasadena's New General Plan: Praises and Controversies
After four years of work on the city's updated general plan, the Pasadena City Council has green-lighted moving to environmental review phase. Among its updated elements, perhaps the most praised is the addition of a component that focuses on promoting the city's public education system, and the most controversial being development caps for Old Pasadena -- 3,750 residential housing units and 2.5 million square feet for commercial development. Those who oppose the caps say the proposed limits will also cap economic development potential and conflict with the plan's guiding principle for a lively and walkable downtown. Another highly contested issue included proposals to increase density and allow for mixed use projects in commercial to residential transition areas, specifically in the North Lake commercial district. Council is expected to finalize the plan next summer.
CEQA Reform Moves Forward....
The Sacramento Bee
Last Wednesday was a day for CEQA reform advancement as the Senate Environmental Quality Committee approved Senator Steinberg's SB 731 for CEQA modernization. Steinberg defended his proposal as an attempt to reduce project delays without compromising CEQA's original intent for environmental protections. Proponents of CEQA reform praise Steinberg for starting the reform process however are advocating for bigger changes than those that are being proposed in SB 731. But as the recent rejection of a broader reform approach shows, a new CEQA law would still have to satisfy those who oppose sweeping reform of the state's environmental law.
HSR Authority Gives Contractor Additional $96 Million
Last Thursday, the California HSR Authority voted to give its largest private contractor, Parsons Brinkerhoff, a two-year contract extension and an additional $96 million for the projectís architectural and engineering oversight. The extension allows the firm to continue its work and develop a revised business plan due next year. Responding to criticisms that the authority has failed to adequately monitor its outside contractors, the authority emphasized that it is prepared to exercise rigorous oversight over Parsons Brinkerhoff during the next two years.
Bay Area Faces Potential Growth War
Marin Independent Journal
The Bay Areaís regional growth plan, Plan Bay Area, establishes a framework for the regionís future transportation and land use/housing choices that can accommodate its growing population while reducing GHG emissions (SB 375). The draft plan, released in March, identifies potential and priority growth areas, sparking strong opposition from both Marin County and San Mateo County. Opposition largely stems from the plan's alleged co-opt of land use controls- a power that fundamentally lies within the local government's jurisdiction. The public will be able to comment on the plan until May 16th before its adoption this summer.