Everybody always loves to complain about the California Environmental Quality Act, but despite all the complaining we don't now much about how effective it really is and what all the CEQA activity adds up to. >>read more
Since Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement a few weeks ago, he has been hailed - and reviled - as the Court's "great liberal voice" of the past couple of decades. But especially in land use, Stevens' legacy rests with not only his ardent support of government regulatory power, but also his skill in mustering five votes, on a pretty conservative court, in favor of aggressive use of land use regulation.
The old saying in government is that in order to understand what's going on, you've got to follow the money. In local planning throughout California, that's becoming increasingly easy to do. Local government revenues - property tax, sales tax, development fees, redevelopment funds - are in steep decline.
The distance between California's growing budget problems and California's ambitious environmental protection agenda continues to increase.
The consequences of the state's chronic budget deficit – currently $20 billion per year or more with no end in sight – continue to chew up everything and everybody in its path: local governments, transit agencies, the prison system, welfare recipients, school districts.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has always been a Republican with a twist. As the governor enters his final year – attempting to deal both with economic woes and an ambitious environmental agenda – it appears that nothing has changed. He is going after the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in his own way. It's legacy time for the governor. For better or worse, the Schwarzenegger approach to skinning CEQA may be part of his legacy.
If predictions about the impact of global warming are even half right, a lot of us are going to be quite literally swimming – or at least wading – through our daily lives in 30 or 40 years. Yet in the current debate about how the state should approach "adaptation" strategies, all parties are crouched in their typically unhelpful postures.
Sometime this year or next year, Congress will probably pass a climate change bill that tries to mimic SB 375's link between transportation patterns and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And the bill will probably generate billions of dollars by capping emissions and placing a market value on them. But it is doubtful Congress use the money to invest in the transportation improvements and land use changes required to reduce automobile travel.
California government never fails to amuse. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appears poised to eliminate his own Office of Planning and Research (OPR) and nobody – not even the state's planners – is rushing to the beleaguered office's defense. Yet throughout Sacramento, vultures are hovering, because while OPR itself may not be worth saving, the carcass appears to have value.