The wildfires of late October and early November - which some fire experts claim were the worst in the state's history - have stimulated a whole new round of debate about whether and how to permit urban development in areas with naturally high fire risk.
The Davis administration has come and gone with little to show in the way of changes to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines, a document that carries the force of law and dictates how public agencies are supposed to implement CEQA. About 30 minor guideline changes were issued in September, but those changes could be put on hold or cancelled by the new Schwarzenegger administration.
A federal appeals court has rejected two Sacramento-area cities' challenge of Interior Department decisions that resulted in the development of an Indian casino. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia ruled that the Interior Department acted within the meaning of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and a statute that provided federal recognition to the United Auburn Indian Community.
An appellate court has decided to allow Caltrans to transfer 130 acres near Carmel for use as a state park despite a constitutional provision prohibiting the sale of Caltrans property for less than market value. The court ruled that a constitutional exception for property in the coastal zone applied because about 20% of the property lies within the zone.
Rivermark has been praised as a progressive project for providing some New Urbanist-inspired architecture, affordable housing and open space. However, Rivermark is an uneasy amalgam of urban and suburban.
Voters in two Solano County cities on the edge of the Bay Area approved urban growth boundaries during the November election, providing two major victories for slow-growth advocates. Overall, however, local land use balloting in November demonstrated neither a slow-growth nor a pro-growth bent among voters.
The administration of new Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger started coming together in November, but Schwarzenegger's appointments were as difficult to peg as the new governor himself. Schwarzenegger has sprinkled his administration with moderates and Democrats, and he counterbalanced those appointments with business-oriented veterans of the Wilson administration.
The first update of the Governor's Environmental Goals and Policy Report (EGPR) was issued in the final moments of the Davis administration. However, it was unclear how seriously the Schwarzenegger administration and state lawmakers would take the report. One member of the stakeholder advisory committee called the EGPR an "instant historical curiosity."
The largest development project along the newly extended 210 freeway at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains is finally proceeding after years of planning and financial difficulty. However, all is not smooth sailing for the Colonies Crossroads project, as a November appellate court order halted grading on a portion of the site because of a fight over flood control facilities.