Today more than ever planners are recommending— and being urged to recommend —"sustainable" development practices. But what makes a development truly sustainable remains an open question, as there is uncertainty over what the sustainable community may look like as little as one generation in the future.
In interviews that CP&DR recently conducted with planners, academics, developers and advocates, a rough consensus of sustainable development began to emerge: The sustainable community will be compact, have numerous transportation options besides the car, and be far more energy-efficient than today's neighborhoods and cities.
When an untimely freeze destroyed the Tulare County citrus crop two years ago, costing many people their farm labor jobs, the City of Lindsay responded with a program modeled on the Works Project Administration. The city built a number of projects, the most novel of which was the conversion of an empty fruit-packing plant into a 172,000-square-foot sports and fitness complex.
The majority of California's unique plant species could lose most of their geographic ranges during the next 100 years because of climate change, according to a newly released report by biologists at several universities. The finding could have dramatic implications for land management in California, especially in areas with local or regional habitat plans.
A property assessment to fund open space acquisitions in Santa Clara County has been invalidated by the state Supreme Court, which ruled that the assessment violated Proposition 218.
The court found that the assessment on 314,000 parcels spread across 800 square miles provided only general benefits and was therefore a special tax that should have gone before voters. The unanimous court said that property owner's 2001 approval of the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority (OSA) assessment was not legal under the state constitution.
To many Californians, the lively, pedestrian-oriented streets and plazas of San Francisco are what make the city so enjoyable. But away from these celebrated areas, San Francisco has many of the same problems with its streets as other aging urban areas. There are countless blocks of treeless roads that are more useful for shuttling speeding cars to freeways, than for providing safe corridors for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The city has set out to improve those streets that don't match up to the city's reputation with an ambitious "Better Streets Plan."
The state has gone into the infill and transit-oriented development business for the first time. But it is hard to say whether the state government's newfound interest will reshape California.
Using money from Proposition 1C, adopted by the voters in 2006, the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) recently awarded almost $500 million in infill infrastructure grants and transit-oriented development (TOD) grants. No, it's probably not enough to alter the state's growth patterns. But it is enough to get some projects off the ground that otherwise might have languished in the real estate downturn.
A proposed subdivision that undergoes environmental review and receives approval does not become a new project for California Environmental Quality Act purposes merely because the local government's approval expires and a new subdivision map is submitted, the First District Court of Appeal has ruled.
In this month's roundup of news from around the state: A Los Angeles judge has toss out water quality officials' regional plan; researchers recommend building a peripheral canal; Whittier halts the expansion of hookah bars; and Temecula gets tough on owners of foreclosed houses.
Urgency legislation extending the life of all subdivision maps by one year has been signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. The California Building Industry Association (CBIA) praised the governor for signing SB 1185 (Lowenthal). The real estate slowdown has prevented developers from following through with approved projects, and the legislation ensures developers and landowners do not have to go through the entitlement process a second time.
A logging plan and endangered species permit that were part of the Headwaters Forest deal approved by the state in 1999 have been invalidated by the state Supreme Court. The court set important precedents by rejecting both a "sustained yield plan" and an "incidental take" permit held by Pacific Lumber Company.