Medical Marijuana Ordinance Upheld By Kern County Judge In California

Medical Marijuana Ordinance Upheld By Kern County Judge In California

 By Joliza Magdaong : jobsnhire – excerpt

California- Legality complication continue to arise as voters for Measure G was given an ultimatum of 30 days to come up with reasonable plan on how to operate Medical Marijuana Farm without compromising the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA.
The said court order says that if the County failed to present a plan that is acceptable to the Californian authorities, then Measure G will be consider as invalid, and will no longer be given a chance to appeal in the higher court… (more)

CEQA reviews required for marijuana growers

Innovative Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan Seeks To Revitalize Neglected Los Angeles Neighborhood

Innovative Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan Seeks To Revitalize Neglected Los Angeles Neighborhood

By Alfred Fraijo Jr. and Tetlo N. Emmen : mondaq – excerpt

After years of work and input from local community groups, environmentalists, affordable housing advocates, transportation advocates, and the business community, the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan (the “CASP”) cleared its final hurdle on June 28, 2013 when the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve it. The CASP aims to revitalize a more than 650 acre stretch of mostly industrial land along the Los Angeles River. The CASP includes several innovative strategies that aim to transform an area zoned and built according to development and land use patterns left over from the 1940’s. The goal is a mixed-use neighborhood that concentrates higher densities around transit, preserves and develops affordable housing and fosters economic growth and new technology, while providing sorely needed certainty to developers and investors interested in investing in the CASP area.

Some of the CASP’s innovative provisions include:

  • Affordable Housing: The CASP provides for a Density Bonus Program that allows for increased Floor Area Ratio (“FAR”) above the base FAR for projects that agree to include an affordable housing component. The CASP also includes “on- and off-menu” incentives for projects that participate in the Density Bonus Program. The on-menu incentives include increases in the amount of residential FAR permitted in a project and an increase in the maximum height. The off-menu incentives permit an applicant to request a waiver from development standards set forth in the CASP or the Los Angeles Municipal Code.
  • Transfer of Floor Area: The CASP allows unused FAR to be transferred between properties within the CASP area. Both residential and non-residential projects can purchase unused FAR from other eligible properties to maximize FAR.
  • Streamlined Project Approval: Projects complying with CASP standards are eligible for an “Administrative Clearance” approval procedure. The environmental impact report prepared for the CASP fully assessed environmental impacts for projects that comply with the CASP’s standards, allowing projects approved via the Administrative Clearance to avoid additional CEQA review.
  • New Zones: The CASP contains four new zones: a Greenway Zone, Urban Village Zone, Urban Center Zone and an Urban Innovation Zone. The Greenway Zone provides for open space along the Los Angeles River. The Urban Village, Urban Center and Urban Innovation Zones all allow for mixed-use developments and are intended to promote a robust mix of light industrial, residential and commercial uses.
  • Parking: Because the CASP area is well served by public transit, there are no minimum parking requirements. This is a first of its kind strategy for the City of Los Angeles.
  • Reduced Lot Area: The number of dwelling units permitted in residential developments is not limited by the minimum unit size provisions of the Los Angeles Municipal Code. With an eye toward increasing the supply of affordable housing, the CASP allows projects to build smaller residential units that can be rented at lower rates.

The ordinance enacting the CASP (Ordinance No. 182,617) became effective on August 14, 2013. Whether the CASP’s innovative strategies will be successful in enticing new economic development and the range of housing choices envisioned remains to be seen, but the CASP has created a new blueprint offering real opportunities to achieve these goals. If you have any questions about the opportunities the CASP presents as it relates to developments or properties located in the CASP area please contact us.


CEQA Roundup: After meeting with governor, Steinberg puts comprehensive CEQA bill on hold

CEQA Roundup: After meeting with governor, Steinberg puts comprehensive CEQA bill on hold

by Justin Ewers : caeconomy – excerpt

And just like that, after a year of fighting tooth-and-nail to keep his politically complicated CEQA reform package moving forward—a bill he not-so-jokingly referred to as the How to Make No Friends Act—Senate leader Darrell Steinberg last night decided to put aside his statewide CEQA legislation, SB 731, and turn his focus instead to his new bill, SB 743, to streamline the CEQA process for a Sacramento Kings arena.
The turn of events surprised many observers, especially because Steinberg seemed to be working hard this week to line up a coalition of infill builders, smart growth advocates, and labor groups he needed to move SB 731 forward over growing opposition from the business community.
A Wednesday evening meeting between Steinberg and the governor appears to have changed all that. Insiders say the governor pushed the Senate leader to pick one CEQA bill to get behind this legislative session, and Steinberg chose the Kings arena, putting his statewide legislation on hold until next year. Steinberg also reportedly promised to add several provisions requested by the governor.
According to amendments made public earlier this week, the Kings bill would already provide the arena with an expedited 270-day period for judicial review, give the city the power to use eminent domain to claim property for the arena project (even before the arena’s environmental impact report is complete), and create a new, super-compressed timeline for public review that will end disputes not in court, but in non-binding mediation … (more)

Looks like Steinberg has his priorities in order. He either cares more about the stadium or he just figured it was an easier, less complicated bill to salvage.

S.F. Planning Commission to size up high-rise

S.F. Planning Commission to size up high-rise at 75 Howard.

By John Wildermuth : sfgate – excerpt

Another high-rise is in the works for San Francisco’s waterfront, and you can bet there will be plenty of people out to complain when the City Planning Commission on Thursday looks at the plan for a 31-story, 186-unit residential tower at 75 Howard St., just off the Embarcadero.

No decisions will be made at the noon meeting at City Hall as the commission considers the draft environmental impact report on the project, which would replace an eight-level, 540-space parking garage at Howard and Steuart streets, but the meeting could give an indication of just how much pushback the project will face when the final EIR comes up for approval early next year.

The Paramount Group has already been told by planners that its project is too tall, blocks scenic vistas, contributes to unacceptable traffic congestion and casts too many shadows on public open spaces to meet the existing zoning rules for the site. To meet city code requirements, the developer would need to lop 13 stories off the high-rise

None of those are necessarily deal killers (although the tower’s 348-foot height is way above the existing 200-foot limit), but the question is just how much stomach city officials have for another high-profile fistfight over waterfront development.

There already are dueling measures on November’s ballot over the future of the 8 Washington development, which would put 134 luxury condos across the street from the Ferry Building, and the plan for the Warriors arena at Pier 30-32 is beyond controversial. Add that to the fact that the city’s landmark Transbay Tower project faced serious concerns about the impact of shadows on the city’s downtown and waterfront, and the question that arises is how much is too much?

Something will be built on the Howard Street site, since the garage, described charitably as “visually utilitarian” by planners, is sitting on one of the last sites in that part of downtown for high-rise development(more)

New, contentious Darrell Steinberg bill to give special treatment to Kings arena

New, contentious Darrell Steinberg bill to give special treatment to Kings arena

Sacramento News – excerpt

The proposed Sacramento Kings arena will soon receive a Kevin Johnson-worthy assist from Darrell Steinberg: The state senate leader plans to introduce an 11th-hour bill to fast-track the proposed downtown arena’s construction and development.

The pro-tem’s forthcoming bill, confirmed by multiple sources who asked to remain anonymous, will streamline the arena’s environmental review…

A similar bill that would apply to the Golden State Warrior’s arena in San Francisco, has been making its way through the Capitol this session—but apparently will be stuck in a rules committee, perhaps until the Kings arena bill gains traction among members… (more)

No Free Pass For Fracking In California

No Free Pass For Fracking In California

David Pettit’s Blog – excerpt

We are (regrettably) used to seeing end-of-session hijinks in Sacramento when “gut and amend” bills and other special interest tricks get rolled out.  But today we’re seeing a new one:  an entire industry that wants a free pass to pollute by evading the protections of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

NRDC and many others support SB 4 (Pavley), which has many important provisions that would protect communities from fracking and other well stimulation methods like acidization (which is just what it sounds like – pumping acid into the ground to free up oil and gas for extraction). SB 4  just passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee  and will go to a floor vote probably next week; then it has to go back to the Senate for concurrence, and then on to the Governor for signature or veto. The current legislative session ends next Friday, 9/13.

One important provision of SB 4 is a requirement that oil and gas companies obtain a permit from the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) before engaging in fracking or acidization on new or existing wells.  Since these permits would be discretionary, they would be subject to CEQA just like any other big, potentially polluting project.  For an overview on the fracking issue, you can read my colleague Damon Nagami’s Switchboard post here.



Riverside Press-Enterprise Editorial: Arena exemption, no; streamline CEQA, yes,

Riverside Press-Enterprise Editorial: Arena exemption, no; streamline CEQA, yes – excerpt

The Legislature should craft reforms of the state’s environmental law that apply to all development, rather than offering special treatment to favored projects.

California needs a better approach to environmental issues than special treatment for favored projects. The Legislature should streamline and clarify the state’s overly complex, often ambiguous environmental law. And the reforms should benefit the entire state, not just offer aid to projects with political pull.

The year started with promises by Gov. Jerry Brown and ranking legislators that this year would see revisions to the California Environmental Quality Act. Instead, that effort has devolved into another last-minute push to give favored treatment to a special-interest project. Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, last week unveiled legislation to speed the progress on a basketball arena for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. The bill would require a full environmental report for the arena, but would fast-track any legal challenges and limit the courts’ power to halt construction of the project.

The four-decade-old California Environmental Quality Act requires public agencies to study the environmental effects of development plans, and take steps to avoid or repair any damage. But many of the law’s provisions are vague, leading to inconsistency, confusion and conflict. The law’s fuzzy language invites costly, time-consuming litigation and opens the door to nuisance lawsuits. Yet the Legislature largely leaves the job of clarifying the law to the courts, which yields a haphazard, case-by-case approach.

Reforms that would make the law more easily understandable, streamline the review process and curb abuses would benefit everyone. The state needs a law that protects the environment without bogging planning decisions in bureaucratic tangles and legal wrangling. A state worried about high unemployment and a fragile economy should not abide arbitrary roadblocks to economic growth.

But once again the Legislature is more interested in special-interest carve-outs than in serious public policy. Giving favored treatment for a Sacramento basketball arena would follow the dubious precedents legislators set in 2009 and 2011, when they similarly skirted environmental rules to aid professional football stadium proposals.

Changes that only benefit projects with sufficient political clout hardly address the broader concerns about the law. The Legislature should be enacting reforms that apply to all development, not just professional sports proposals.

That task will not be simple, admittedly. The environmental act is a minefield of conflicting interests, where compromise is all too rare and the extremes often drive the debate. The law has to simultaneously protect against harmful, defective development while not obstructing beneficial construction.

But finding the proper balance on the law requires more than giving special help to the well-connected. The state needs a clear, streamlined law that safeguards the environment, speeds planning and curtails abuses. Reforms that achieve that goal would be a substantial legislative achievement — and far better public service than a cynical game of political favoritism…. (more)

San Francisco Chronicle Editorial, No special environmental rules for sports

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