For the first time in 12 years, the Democrats are in charge of Congress. That ought to mean there is a long wish list somewhere regarding domestic policy issues, including issues associated with planning and development.
So far, we haven't seen much publicity on domestic policy – the Democrats, as more than a few media outlets have observed, are more interested in investigation than legislation. But as the congressional session unfolds, it won't be long before the new majority begins to focus on the two major federal policy levers that affect land use – the Big Carrot of transportation funding and the Big Stick of environmental regulation. In each case, a crisis appears to be forcing Congress's hand.
In issuing its second California Environmental Quality Act ruling in seven months, the conservative-leaning California Supreme Court is emerging as one of CEQA's staunchest defenders. The latest decision - the rejection of an environmental impact report's water analysis for a large Sacramento-area housing project - is the court's first foray into such water studies, and the court appears to have set a high standard. >>read more
Monterey County General Plan faces voter approval, a controversial Carmel Valley subdivision is back in court after EIR rejection 6 years ago, flood control in Sacramento continues to evolve, and dry cleaners in San Francisco pay for brownfeild clean up. >>read more
Only two months after voters rejected Proposition 90, new proposals to alter eminent domain law are already arising. Anti-tax activists, environmentalists, local government organizations and state lawmakers are all working on eminent domain proposals, and it is likely that voters will see at least one ballot measure on the subject during the 2008 primary. It is also possible that voters will decide on another regulatory takings initiative. >>read more
In one of the first published opinions upholding an environmental impact report's water analysis, the Third District Court of Appeal has overturned a lower court's ruling favoring opponents of a gravel mine proposed in Placer County. >>read more
Several pieces of land use legislation have been vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, including two bills aimed at affordable housing and a bill that would have decreased local discretion over the siting of emergency shelters and group homes. Meanwhile, state lawmakers and lobbyists are already starting to prepare housing bills for the 2007 legislative session. >>read more
Changes to redevelopment law that are short of sweeping but still significant enough to stir the industry won legislative approval this year. The measures tighten blight requirements, ease challenges to redevelopment decisions and potentially limit use of eminent domain, but the bills do not go as far as originally proposed. >>read more
- AB 1387 (Jones). Expands a CEQA exemption for urban infill to projects of up to 100 units with a minimum density of 20 units per acre. The projects also must be within half a mile of a transit stop and comply with the local circulation element. Signed by governor. >>read more
With the August 31 deadline for legislative action looming, state lawmakers face the usual mountain of bills during the session's final weeks. Among the land use bills in that mountain are two major flood control measures, the biggest overhaul of redevelopment law since the early 1990s and a complicated housing bill that cities strongly oppose. >>read more