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Hyperloop and Hyperbole

On December 21, the Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, deployed a suite of communications satellites, and, in impressive fashion, came back down to Earth. Using its engines to dull the force of gravity, it survived re-entry and hit its football-field sized landing pad like a Tesla backing into a garage.

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No Triable Issue of Fact in AirBNB-Related Eviction Case

A Venice tenant who was renting her attic or loft out through AirBNB does not have a "triable issue of fact" on an eviction case brought against her by her landlord, the appellate division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court has ruled.

The case highlights one of a myriad of legal issues created by the such online services as AirBNB, which facilitates occupants of regular housing to rent out their bedrooms as if they were hotels, often in violation of zoning ordinances and homeowner association rules.

The case involved Joella Kraft, who lived in a rent-controlled unit in the Venice neighborhood in Los Angeles pursuant to a written agreement with the property's then-landlord dating back to 1997, which also permitted her two then-young sons to live there on a part-time basis.

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Sponsored Announcement: International Change Makers of the Built Environment Come Together in L.A. for FutureBuild

ULI Los Angeles, in partnership with VerdeXchange, announces FutureBuild 2016. This assembly of the land-use thinkers and innovators in business and government, local and worldwide, will be Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 7:30 am to 1:30 pm, at L.A. Downtown Hotel, 333 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071.

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Using Tuolumne Tactic, Moreno Valley Approves Development of 40 Million Square Feet

For years, National Football League teams have been trying to find places to play in the Los Angeles area. Soon enough, 700 of them could move to Moreno Valley, with room to spare.  

In what may be the largest single commercial development in the history of California - or possibly the universe - the World Logistics Center will, as currently envisioned, cover 40 million square feet, most of which will be dedicated to storage, transshipment, and other functions related to the logistics industry. It will be more than twice as large as New York City's much-heralded Hudson Yards project.

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CDFA Erred in EIR Alternatives Analysis on Pest Control Action, Court Rules

The California Department of Food & Agriculture erred in preparing an environmental impact report for a program intended to eradicate with an invasive pest without examining the long-term consequences of an alternative program to control the pest rather than eradicate it, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled.

As it happens, CDFA actually switched the program at the last minute from eradication to control, but the Third District said the defeat in the EIR would have been a legal problem under any circumstances. Relying on Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority (2013) 57 Cal.4th 439, the Third District said CDFA's action was "prejudicial," requiring the appellate court to reverse two trial court rulings related to the case.

The case involves CDFA's efforts to eradicate the light brown apple moth, or LBAM, an invasive "leaf-roller" moth that was first seen in California in 2007. Because LBAM represented a threat to all California ornamental plants as well as fruits and vegetables, and its invasion of California was moving fast, the legislature quickly authorized CDFA to undertake a temporary LBAM program with the goal of eradicating the pest.

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Can Bertoni Help Garcetti Run L.A. City Hall's Planning Gauntlet?

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Monday that he has selected Vince Bertoni as the city's new planning director, replacing Michael Lo Grande. Bertoni is currently planning director of Pasadena and a former deputy director in Los Angeles. Bertoni must be confirmed by the L.A. City Council.

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Court Says Anaheim Played Bait-and-Switch on Hotel Developer

The Fourth District Court of Appeal has blocked the City of Anaheim's attempt to build a surface parking lot on a property adjacent to two new hotels rather than a parking structure, as was implied in a conditional use permit the city approved in 1999.

Technically, the appellate court affirmed a trial judge's ruling that the city was estopped (a legal term essentially meaning prohibited) from enacting a subsequent conditional use permit � applying to the city's own property, not the hotel developer's property � that called for a surface lot rather than a parking garage and deviating from the city's own Resort Development Standards, which the hotel developer's own project had to meet.

The case involves a complicated arrangement in which Intercontinental Hotel Group had agreed to a smaller, redesigned project because of the city's plans to build an overpass over I-15 along Gene Autry Way that better connects Disneyland with Anaheim Stadium and other destinations east of the freeway. The overpass, which opened in 2012, takes up part of the hotel developer's property and also part of an adjacent property.

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Insight: How Will California's Cities Use Two New Redevelopment Options?

Ever since Gov. Jerry Brown killed redevelopment in 2011, the conventional wisdom has been that eventually he would give it a second life - but only after he was sure the old system was completely dead, in a way that protects the state general fund, and probably after he himself won re-election to a final term.

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Will CBIA v BAAQMD Make Infill Projects Easier To Build in California?

Last week's unanimous, finely worded ruling by the California Supreme Court has spared builders their worst-case scenario in the long-awaited "CEQA in Reverse" case. It does not interpret the California Environmental Quality Act to require an environmental impact report whenever a project might attract more people within range of an existing hazard such as air pollution or earthquake risk.

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Legal Briefs: Cal Supremes Take Another Newhall Case

Another Newhall Ranch case goes to the Supreme Court. The winning environmentalists seek a rehearing in the big Newhall lvictorh -- mostly to clarify the nature of their win. And, on another front, an appellate court reheard a groundwater extraction fee case and didn't budget.

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SGC Ramps Up To Adopt New Program Guidelines on December 17

After doling out $120 million in essentially free money in 2015, the program staff behind the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities grants discovered almost as many opinions as there were dollars in the program. Public and private stakeholders alike expressed concerns about both the fairness and efficacy of the selection process. Large urban areas lobbied for population-based preferences, rural areas lamented their lack of qualifying transit, and fierce discussions took place over jurisdictional caps and underserved communities.

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First District Orders Cal State East Bay to Reconsider Offsite Traffic Mitigation

In light of a similar ruling by the California Supreme Court in a case from San Diego, the First District Court of Appeal has ordered Cal State East Bay to revisit the question of offsite traffic mitigation in the environmental impact report for its long-range master plan. As the Supreme Court did in San Diego, the court ruled that Cal State cannot simply declare mitigations infeasible unless the state legislature appropriates funds specifically for that purpose.

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CEQA Catch-22 From Ukiah

You can't fix a bad EIR with an addendum, even when the addendum was supposed to fix the EIR.

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Crematorium Woes

Oakland can't retroactively apply CUP in crematorium case.

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County Can't Recapture Money Loaned to Redevelopment Agency, Court Rules

San Bernardino County is not entitled to the return of $9 million in loan principal to the former county redevelopment agency, even though the funds were not tax-increment revenues and had come from the county's general fund, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled Monday.

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Supreme Court Gives Enviros Big Victory on Newhall Ranch

California's Supreme Court broke the Newhall Land & Farming Company's long winning streak November 30 in a victory for environmental and community groups over the Newhall Ranch megadevelopment. 

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MTC May Force Hostile Takeover Onto ABAG

If there's anything more confusing than one regional government bureaucracy, it's two regional government bureaucracies.  

This is an axiom that cities in the Bay Area have gotten to know all too well over the past 45 years living under the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Calls to merge the two or eliminate one have resounded roughly as long as both have been around. At last, thanks in part to the regional planning mandate set forth by Senate Bill 375, the MTC may finally succeed in a hostile takeover of the much smaller ABAG.

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The Tech Housing Crunch's Fracking Dilemma

A couple of weeks ago I heard a spiel by one of the founders of a new startup called Feastly, which is trying to pair up chefs with diners. Chefs wake up in the morning, go into their kitchen, prepare whatever they want, put out a call on the Internet - and if it's something you want to eat, you go to their house and dine. Feastly, in other words, turns every dining room into a restaurant.

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Court Upholds CEQA Exemption For Rodeo In Light Of Berkeley Hillside Case

Reconsidering the case in light of the California Supreme Court's recent Berkeley Hillside ruling, the Third District Court of Appeal has reaffirmed last year's ruling concluding that a rodeo at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds does not qualify as an "unusual circumstance" that can override an exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act.

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JPA Can Be Used To End-Run Vote Requirement, Fourth District Rules

The Fourth District Court of Appeal has rejected arguments from San Diegans for Open Government that the City of San Diego improperly created a joint powers authority in order to avoid a two-thirds vote requirement for issuing sale-leaseback Marks-Roos bonds.

San Diegans for Open Government - a plaintiff frequently used by watchdog lawyer Cory Briggs - sued the city, claiming that a joint-powers authority between the city, the San Diego Housing Authority, and the city's successor agency did not have the power to issue the bonds for several reasons. SDOG attempted to distinguish the situation from the facts of Rider v. City of San Diego (1998) 18 Cal.4th 1035, a California Supreme Court ruling which held, essentially, that the city could end-run the two-thirds requirement by creating a JPA.

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