The state and federal governments are throwing a lot of "new money" at the housing market in hopes of stabilizing prices and bailing out subprime mortgage borrowers. For California alone, the total looks to be several hundred million dollars – at least – in the next year alone. But is that anywhere near enough to make a dent in the problem?
Stem-cell therapy and urban design have little in common, or so I thought, until I saw Dan Solomon's design for New Railroad Square in Santa Rosa. In the San Francisco architect's plan for the former rail yards in downtown Santa Rosa, the typical block from the older sections of Santa Rosa takes the role of the healthy cell. The imported block, with its small dimensions, helps weave the New Railroad Square project into the fabric of the historic downtown.
Despite high gasoline prices, concern over greenhouse gas emissions, a dismal housing market and a renowned "smart growth" regional planning blueprint, a whole new phase of exurbs is being planned north of Sacramento.
State laws approved seven years ago requiring water assurances for large development projects appear to be of minimal aid in determining whether the state and regions have enough water for the future. That's the conclusion of a California Research Bureau (CRB) report released with zero fanfare in August.
The validity of a 1915 subdivision map has been rejected by the First District Court of Appeal in a decision that calls into question any subdivision recorded before 1929.
The court determined the 1915 map for a 25-lot subdivision in southern Sonoma County is not valid today because the county had very little discretion under the Subdivision Map Act in place at the time. The decision provides a significant victory to local governments concerned about an untold number of antiquated subdivision maps that do not conform to modern-day land use planning principles.
An appellate court has upheld an airport land use compatibility plan that a Solano County landowner argued was overly restrictive.
The court rejected the landowner's contention that Solano County's Travis Air Force Base Land Use Compatibility Plan (TALUP) was inconsistent with an Air Force plan because the TALUP used a tighter noise threshold and assumed greater airport use than did the Air Force. The court found nothing in state law that prevented the country from being more restrictive of growth around an airport.
A Contra Costa County order directing a water ski club to remove 28 unpermitted dwelling units plus docks and accessory structures has been upheld by the First District Court of Appeal.
Despite the fact that some of the structures have been in place for 40 years, the county has the authority to order their removal, the court ruled. The court rejected the ski club's argument that the abatement order was a taking of private property and violation of constitutional rights, and the court denied the club's request to limit the county's abatement order.
Senate Bill 375 is alternately being described as the most important land use legislation since the California Coastal Act of 1976, and a step in the right direction. Only time will tell whether the bill is a landmark or an incremental step, but there is no denying that SB 375 author Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) aimed high. "At the heart of this effort," Steinberg said, "is the need to integrate our housing and transportation plans to create sustainable communities."
Steinberg's bill was by far the most significant land use legislation approved during the two-year legislative session that concluded on August 31.
In this month's roundup: The state auditor says the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is making strides; the state auditor releases the third report in a series on the plan to build a new death row at San Quentin; the largest deslination project in the country has received final approval; Hercules tries to grow smart; L.A. bans fast-food in the inner city.