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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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What Will AB 744 Do To Parking?

The High Cost of Free Parking, by UCLA professor emeritus Don Shoup's landmark call for parking reform, was published in 2005. On the occasion of its tenth anniversary, some of his strongest devotees can, at long last, celebrate a victory in the state where the "Shoupista" movement began. 

Assembly Bill 744 (Chau) - recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown -- ushers in a new era in parking regulations in California cities. Chipping away at rules that many consider arbitrary and anti-urban, it dictates that a city may not impose parking minimums greater than 0.5 spaces for housing developments comprising 100 percent affordable units within a half-mile radius of a major transit stop.

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What Next For The Subway To The Sea?

The Second District Court of Appeal has upheld the environmental impact report for the extension of Los Angeles's Purple Line, removing another hurdle for construction of the "Subway to the Sea" through Beverly Hills. Now we'll see whether the Beverly Hills city and school district will appeal to the California Supreme Court.

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Election Results: Turning Point on San Francisco Density?

Was Tuesday's election the turning point in the San Francisco density battles? 

There's been a lot of talk lately about how the city's longtime policy of controlling new development may be outdated now that it's the most expensive city in the country. And in the election, affordable housing, urban density, and short-term housing rentals all prevailed . In fact, more people voted on land use measures yesterday in the City and County of San Francisco than in the rest of the state's jurisdictions combined -- four time as many, in fact. Roughly 130,000 San Francisco voters weighed in on a ballot packed with six land use measures.

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Separation of Property by Condemnation Does Not Equal Subdivision, Court Says

The division of one parcel into four noncontiguous pieces via eminent domain does not automatically create four legal parcels and permit the landowner to avoid the Subdivision Map Act, the First District Court of Appeal has ruled. 

"We hold that a 'division' of property within the meaning of the [Subdivision Map] Act does not occur simply because an eminent domain proceeding results in a physical separation of a property's non-condemned portions," wrote Presiding Justice Jim Humes, a former top aide to Jerry Brown for a three-judge panel of the First District. "The owner of such a property is therefore not entitled to a certificate of compliance for each of the resulting separate parts."

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Governor's Housing Proposal Faces Stiff Opposition

For all the appeal that “streamlining” would seem to offer, Gov. Jerry Brown's housing proposal has drawn stiff criticism – including some from traditional proponents of affordable housing.

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First District Reverses Earlier Decision in Berkeley Hillside Case

Reversing itself on remand, the First District Court of Appeal has ruled in the Berkeley Hillside case that the proposed home of computer pioneer Mitch Kapor and his wife does not, in and of itself, represent an "unusual circumstances" under the CEQA Guidelines and therefore the  City of Berkeley acted properly in applying a CEQA exemption to the project. 

In so doing, the court did not need to move on to the second half of the analysis laid out earlier this year by the California Supreme Court in the appeal of the Berkeley Hillside case, Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (2015) 60 Cal.4th 1086, which was decided in May.

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In Roundup of Local Land Use Measures, San Francisco Wins for Most Contentious City

A typically diverse array of land use measures appears on the November ballot in a handful of localities around the state. Most questions ask voters to endorse or oppose specific developments, from a golf course redevelopment in El Dorado County to a park in San Carlos. Only the City of Modesto has a sweeping, citywide question, billed as a referendum on urban sprawl. 

Then there is the City and County of San Francisco, arguably the most unique and hotly contested 49 square miles in the country. This November, it has a whole state's worth of propositions. They range from a proposed local moratorium on development to restrictions on Airbnb and the like to a major $310 million housing bond that Mayor Ed Lee has been promoting.

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CEQA Analysis Can Put Traffic From Vacant Store In Baseline

The City of Carlsbad acted correctly in including traffic from a vacant store in its environmental baseline for a shopping center renovation, the Fourth District Court of Appeals has ruled in an unpublished case.

Westfield, the shopping center operator, proposed demolishing and reconstructing the vacant Robinson-May store in Plaza Camino Real, a shopping center originally built in 1969. Westfield's changes actually resulted in a reduction in the overall square footage of the shopping center.

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Mobility Plan Nudges Los Angeles Towards New Transportation Modes

There's a scene in "X Men Origins: Wolverine" in which a government scientist infuses every bone in the title mutant's body with an inviolable metal called adamantium. The process is excruciating, but it leaves Wolverine with the distinct benefit of near-indestructibility. And claws.  

That's kind of like what the city of Los Angeles is doing to its transportation network. With the adoption of Mobility Plan 2035 , the world's first great automobile-oriented city could become the first city to de-orient itself from the automobile. The city will not merely cease adding lane-miles; it will, in fact, take space away from personal automobiles.

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The Emergence Of 2 Californias

California is often considered to be two different states – north and south. But when it comes to planning and urban development patterns, the state is more properly divided east and west, or possibly inland and coastal. The real estate boom of earlier this decade only exacerbated the differences between coastal cities and inland suburbs.

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Time To Tackle California's Housing Problem

The recent Brexit vote seemed a lot like the typical California NIMBY fight to me: Basically, a whole bunch of old white people who don’t like how society is evolving tried to shut the door, probably screwing their own children and grandchildren in the process.

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Insight: Does Supply Create Its Own Demand?

A couple of weeks ago, the satirical newspaper The Onion reported that the City of San Francisco was looking to relocate because its current location had become too expensive. Funny though this was, I expected the follow-up story to focus on the economic development incentive package being put together to keep San Francisco where it is.

 

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