More than 30 years ago, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley dreamed on an economically dominant downtown that would be on par with great downtowns like those in Chicago and San Francisco. Although Bradley's dream never came true, downtown L.A. has become a great residential neighborhood and a significant office market. It's easy to argue, though, that developers and market forces ultimately played a bigger role than government or public policy in downtown's evolution since the 1970s.
It was a little-noticed aspect of the final California budget deal, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made California Environmental Quality Act history when he signed the long-delayed 2008-09 budget in February.
Schwarzenegger asked for and got something no governor had ever gotten through the budget process before: an exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act for certain state construction projects based on economic hardship, rather than on natural disaster.
Opponents of a proposed development on the Santa Margarita Ranch outside of San Luis Obispo have sued the county, arguing it violated numerous state laws when it approved the project during a special meeting two days before Christmas. The lawsuit is only the latest in the long-running controversy regarding the fate of the 13,800-acre ranch.
In this month's roundup of land use news: Riverside lawsuit says train traffic from port expansion is unacceptable; Beaumont loses CEQA suit; Fanita Ranch project stalls, for now; Santa Barbara County approves wind farm near Lompoc; Park district and supporters sue over huge Richmond waterfront project.
A local government may not use the Homeland Security Act, copyright law or cost concerns to shield its geographic information system (GIS) base map from public disclosure, the Sixth District Court of Appeal has ruled.
Although the court ruled squarely for the California First Amendment Coalition in its litigation with Santa Clara County, the court did not decide whether the county could charge extraordinary fees for providing the GIS information. Instead, the appellate panel referred that issue back to Santa Clara County Superior Court.
The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has released a new report in which it urges less reliance on state general obligation (GO) bonds to fund infrastructure improvements. The report, "Paying For Infrastructure: California's Choices," recommends reducing the voter requirement for local bonds from two-thirds to 55%, more user fees and expanded experimentation with public-private partnerships.
The state's system for regulating water quality is failing, according to the Little Hoover Commission. In a recent report, the investigative panel concluded the current system managed by the State Water Resources Control Board and nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards lacks transparency, consistency and accountability, and that the system does not demonstrably improve water quality.
Faced with rapidly declining revenues and extremely difficult budget choices, local governments are starting to invent their own economic stimulus programs. Cities have begun loaning money to car dealerships, cutting development fees, promoting buy-local programs and undertaking new redevelopment projects, among other things.
A county may not assume that fees paid under a mitigation fee program constitute full environmental mitigation for a project when the program has not undergone California Environmental Quality Act review, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled.
A lawsuit challenging National City's updated blight findings and extended eminent domain authority for about 700 parcels in a redevelopment project area has been reinstated after a trial court judge threw out the suit on procedural grounds.