While Gov. Jerry Brown's veto of redevelopment-related bills and the earlier failure of parking reform bill Assembly Bill 904 caused some consternation around the state, he did in fact sign a wide array of bills relating to land use at the end of last month.
Over the past year, even the most irate objectors to Gov. Jerry Brown's dismantling of redevelopment held out hope that in agreeing to kill redevelopment, the legislature would invent a new, better system for stoking local economic growth. Last week, the governor dashed those hopes.
For a lot of planners, the idea of an "infill exemption" to the California Environmental Quality Act has been a kind of holy grail over the past few years. CEQA is a fact of life in California and unlikely to go away. But having to run though the entire CEQA process for a project a quarter-acre infill site just as you might for a project on 5,000 acres of raw land has been more than a little frustrating for developers and planners alike. Sure, an infill project has an impact. But if getting environmental clearance is a hassle, then what's the point?
After yesterday's California Supreme Court oral argument in California Redevelopment Association vs. Matosantos the lawsuit challenging the state's new pay-ransom-or-die redevelopment system it's still hard to tell where the court will go. But the biggest question that emerged was: What happens it the court upholds AB 1x 26, which abolishes redevelopment, but strikes down AB 1x 27, which permits redevelopment agencies to continue to exist if they pay a "remittance" to the state?
Gov. Jerry Brown considered over 600 bills that came to his desk this legislative session. Some of the most contentious involved land use, particularly bills concerning redevelopment and the California Environmental Quality Act. The City of Los Angeles got a CEQA exemption for its proposed football stadium and infill developments have received special dispensation; speculation is that other such exemptions may be on the horizon.
When the City of Morgan Hill annexed an 80-acre plot of land over public outcry, city residents fought back by approving ballot measures limiting the development that could take place on that parcel. With a recent appeals court ruling 31 years after the initial annexation -- a developer's project is high and dry, with the court ruling that the city's actions did not amount to inverse condemnation or illegal spot zoning.
This month October 10, to be exact marks the 100th anniversary of initiative and referendum in California. It's hard to imagine that Gov. Hiram Johnson, the godfather of the constitutional amendment, could have imagined all the different ways that the initiative process would be used especially by the moneyed interests that were his target in 1911. But it's equally hard to imagine that Johnson could have foreseen the way the initiative and referendum process would transform planning and development in California.
There was a time when the biggest opponents to infill development were the interstate highway, the barbeque grill, and the American dream. Following the failure of Assembly Bill 710, you might be able to add advocates of affordable housing to the list.