An audit (pdf) by Los Angeles's controller finds that the city is failing to charge developers millions of dollars in development impact fees -- frequently used to increase police and fire protection, traffic mitigation, and improve public facilities -- and has left millions in collected fees unspent. Comparing Los Angeles to other cities, the audit finds that Los Angeles had $5.3 billion in permitted construction projects in the 2013-14 fiscal year, but collected less than $5 million in impact fees. These numbers compare with San Francisco's $96 million collected off of $3.6 billion in construction, and Portland's $31 million collected off of $1.5 billion in construction. The audit also identified $54 million in impact fees that have been collected but that has been sitting idle various accounts with balances that haven't changed substantially in three years, indicating the city wasn't spending the money. "The city's haphazard application of the fees today is unfair to communities and to developers," Galperin told the Los Angeles Daily News. "Both have every expectation that the city will apply fees consistently and spend them to mitigate the impacts of development on our neighborhoods."
EIR for S.F. Arena Wins Key Approval
The Golden State Warriors project to build an 18,000-seat, $1 billion arena in Mission Bay gained a key approval as the city's Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure unanimously approved the project's 2,500 page environmental impact report. Additionally, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency unanimously adopted the findings of the transportation aspect of the report, including adding capacity on the T-Third Muni Metro line by purchasing four new rail cars and adding crossover tracks near the arena. All improvements and $6 million of annual operating costs would e funded by fees collected at the arena from special taxes on ticket sales, parking and concessions. The city Planning Commission will now vote on whether to allocate 580,000 square feet of commercial space next to the arena.
Bill to Transfer Native Land Unites Congressional Delegates
A bill to transfer 80 acres of the Stanislaus National Forest into a trust for the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians has brought together an unlikely alliance between Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and Republican Rep. Tom McClintock. "In what I believe is a first in American history, Sens. (Dianne) Feinstein and Boxer and I all agree on this legislation," McClintock said Wednesday at a House subcommittee hearing. The legislation would transfer the two isolated Forest Service parcels into trust for the tribe, easing management and making it easier to thin overgrowth and prevent forest fires. Gaming operations would be prohibited on the transferred property.
$35 Million in Tiger Grants Go to California
Three California organizations received over $35 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation's TIGER(Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery) awards. Among the 39 winners, Los Angeles Metro received$15 million for 6.4 miles of its Rail-to River walk and bike path; the Oxnard Harbor District received $12.3 million for its Port of Hueneme Intermodal Improvement Project to strengthen and expand its commercial port; and the San Diego Unified Port District received $10 million for its Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal Modernization Project, which will increase capacity and improve efficiency at the Port. The winners were chosen from 627 applications requesting a total of $10.1 billion.
Tribes Sue Caltrans over Highway Bypass
Two Mendocino County tribes are suing Caltrans and federal transportation agencies over a Highway 101 bypass currently under construction in Willits. The suit alleges that the agencies allowed cultural artifacts to be damaged without proper oversight from the tribes. The lawsuit, filed by the Coyote Valley and Round Valley Indian tribes, claims that Caltrans and the U.S. Department of Transportation violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act in failing to properly identify and protect tribal archaeological sites before and during construction. If an injunction is granted, work would stop on the $300 million, 5.9-mile project that is more than 80 percent complete and on which 95 percent of soil-disturbing jobs are done, according to Caltrans. "Caltrans has complied with state and federal laws during the construction of the Willits bypass," officials said in a written response to the lawsuit. The bypass has roused controversy in the area for many years; it is nearly complete.
General Plan Update Envisions Larger Half Moon Bay
The city of Half Moon Bay is seeking to widen the geographic scope of its General Plan Update, seeking to include some communities outside of its jurisdiction but which affect the way of life of its citizens. The county has jurisdiction over areas immediately north and south of the city like El Granada, Montara and even the Moonridge apartments just a stone's throw away from the city. The Plan Half Moon Bay update would add the 40-acre Moonridge neighborhood, as well as another 6 acres that run about 2,400 feet east along State Route 92. "In the case of the Moonridge, the council decided to include the community in its planning document because its residents mostly work, shop, attend school and do business inside the city limits and share concerns with traffic circulation among other issues," Councilwoman Debbie Ruddock told The Daily Journal.
Los Angeles to Rescind, Revote on Mobility Plan
As a formality, the Los Angeles City Council plans to rescind and readopt its Mobility Plan 2035 in the wake of a lawsuit claiming officials violated City Council procedures in passing amendments during the approval process. Councilmembers noted that the re-vote process will be straightforward and "a simple procedural step that was recommended by the City Attorney out of an abundance of caution," according to Councilmember Mike Bonin. The non-profit Fix the City challenged to mobility plan in court, assertng that the City Council was not permitted to add three amendments pushing for equity and community input during the approval process. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
Oakland Looks at New Coliseum Plan
As the Oakland Raiders and Oakland A's both failed to support the recently proposed Coliseum City redevelopment plan for their home stadium, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is preparing another stadium plan for the Raiders that she says should be available for NFL review within the next couple of weeks. NFL owners are gathering in December to decide which of three teams -- the Raiders, Chargers, and Rams -- should move to Los Angeles. Schaaf's plan will be sculpted by Mitchell Ziets from Tipping Point Sports of New York and will likely include tax breaks and help with infrastructure for a new stadium at the Coliseum site.
South Lake Tahoe Finalizes Airport Plan
South Lake Tahoe has determined its final design plan for upgrades at Lake Tahoe Airport, including allowing surrounding land for outside development with hopes for generating revenue. The Federal Aviation Administration, which is funding a $350,000 master airport plan for Lake Tahoe, predicts a modest 1.17 percent growth for the airport over the next 20 years, with the return of commercial airline service unlikely after the last commercial carrier pulled out in 2000.
Opponents of Bay Delta Tunnels Gather Signatures
Opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown's plans to build twin tunnels carrying water to Southern California from the San-Joaquin Delta have likely gathered enough signatures to put an constitutional amendment blocking Brown's plans on the ballot. Pulling together 933,000 signatures, the initiative would force any revenue bonds for public works involving the state to go to a public vote. Brown's plan to pay for the twin tunnels rests on water users financing bonds to help fund the $15 billion project. The initiative was bankrolled by Stockton-area farmer Dean Cortopassi, who has pumped $4 million into the drive. In other news, four Southern California Water Districts inclusing the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California are working on a joint plan to buy four agricultural islands in the Delta to convert them into reservoirs as a way of moving additional water to Southern California.
Anaheim May Lose Streetcar Grant
Anaheim's 3.2-mile, $318 million streetcar project is facing the daunting reality that it will likely not receive grants from the Federal Transit Administration to get the project off the ground because it would cater to tourists rather than the impoverished. Without federal funds, the construction costs along with $4.3 million annual operating costs will largely be borne by the local taxpayer. Additionally, a new report from the Orange County Transportation Authority finds that the project probably won't meet its ridership projections by 2035, likely only reaching to 1.25 million riders annually, or more than 2.3 million if high-speed rail comes to Anaheim.