TEP CEQA appeal filed in SF

TEP CEQA appeal filed in SF

Nothing in the news yet, but, A CEQA appeal was filed yesterday to stop the TEP. Does anyone trust the SFMTA to fix the Muni, balance the budget, reduce traffic congestion, make parking easier, or make the trains run on time? If you are one of the millions of frustrated taxpayers who wonder what happens to the public funds SFMTA sucks up and begs for more, you might want to join the efforts to reform the MTA. They are growing in number, but here is one option: Stop SFMTA: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stop-sfmt…
Be sure to write your grievances in the comments as those go directly to the city authorities.
If you are a Muni rider who disagrees with the TEP, write the supervisors and tell them to deny funding:

East Bay and South Bay passenger rail corridor proposed to move crude oil

By Tom Lochner Contra Costa Times : constracostatimes – excerpt

BERKELEY — The tracks that carry Amtrak Capitol Corridor trains through about a dozen heavily populated East Bay and South Bay communities could become a rail superhighway for potentially explosive crude oil transports to Central California under a plan by the Phillips 66 oil company, Berkeley officials warn.

A project at Phillips 66’s Santa Maria refinery would enable it to receive crude oil from North American sources that are served by rail, according to a draft environmental report under review by San Luis Obispo County.

The report identifies the most likely source of the crude as the Bakken oil field that covers parts of North Dakota and Canada. Last July, a train carrying Bakken crude exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people and nearly destroying the town.

This latest project would add to a growing trend in California to receive imported oil over land via rail rather than by sea. The train cars filled with oil would roll through Sacramento, the East Bay and South Bay on Union Pacific tracks, switching to the UP’s Coast Line and on to Santa Maria, according to Berkeley officials who have analyzed the Santa Maria report …(more)

State Senator: California not Prepared for Accident Involving Train Carrying Crude Oil – The California Energy Commission said the amount of crude oil being transported by train to the Bay Area has sky rocketed thanks to an oil boom in North Dakota and Canada–but that is raising concerns with at least one state lawmaker… (more)
Reality Check: U.S. Top Oil Producer by 2015?

Landmark designation doesn’t ensure preservation

Landmark designation doesn’t ensure preservation

By Andrew S. Ross : sfgate – excerpt

arly next month, the city’s Historic Preservation Commission will hold a hearing on designating the 330,000-square-foot Showplace, at the intersection of the Potrero district and South of Market, a historic landmark.

Sounds good at first glance. Landmark = protection, right?

Not in this case. A historic designation in this industrial neighborhood means developers could turn the Showplace at 2 Henry Adams St., a showcase for interior design since the 1970s, into another home for tech offices…

A landmark designation would clear the way for its conversion,” real estate blog SocketSite noted when the proposal surfaced several months ago. “Great move by the owners,” another commenter on the blog said. “Perhaps this will presage a wave of interest in historical preservation on the part of landlords.” Especially in the same area.

How so? The building, which sold in 2006 for $125 million, is zoned for production, distribution and repair. A landmark designation opens the building to office development. As a result, existing tenants – home furnishings and textile firms that occupy about two-thirds of the design center – face the prospect of being priced out of the building they have long called home.

As SocketSite pointed out, an office development “flies in the face of a key objective of (the) Showplace Square/Potrero Hill Area Plan which seeks to preserve the supply of (production, distribution and repair) space within the district.”

Should the Historic Preservation Commission recommend the designation at the hearing scheduled for March 5, the Board of Supervisors will ultimately make the final call.

Despite its initial approval, the commission “does have some questions about the change of use,” said Timothy Frye, preservation coordinator at the commission. Frye said he’s heard about fears from tenants about “displacement.”…

Meanwhile, the owners of the Showplace, Galleria and Garden Court petitioned the city’s Assessment Appeals Board last week for reduced taxes, citing a “decline in value.”

Cool it: Things getting a trifle frothy in tech-land? Local members of the 0.1 percent seem to think so.

A majority (60 percent) of San Francisco high-net-worth investors say the Bay Area “is investing more into technology than the asset is worth,” according to a survey from Morgan Stanley… (more)



Santa Monica Coalition For A Livable City Files 34-Page Lawsuit Against Hines

Santa Monica Coalition For A Livable City Files 34-Page Lawsuit Against Hines, and the city

By Parimal M. Rohit : smmirror – excerpt

They have been accused in some corners as being the most vocal but not necessarily the loudest group, but a collection of Santa Monica activists, residents, and stakeholders who oppose the Bergamot Transit Village development proposed by Hines 26th Street LLC (Hines) have used every tool in the book to either prevent or reverse the project from ever seeing light of day.

One group – Residocracy.org – successfully engaged in a massive signature-gathering campaign to get a referendum on the ballot later this year, hoping a majority of Santa Monica voters will reverse the Hines development agreement (DA) the City Council narrowly approved in February.

Another group – the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City, or SMCLC – filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Hines and the City of Santa Monica, seeking an injunction to prevent the Bergamot Transit Village from being built.

The lawsuit was filed March 10, one day before Armen Melkonians of Residocracy.org submitted more than 13,000 signatures to City Hall in order to have a referendum placed on the ballot.

“Residents were forced to sue because the City didn’t do its job,” SMCLC co-chair Diana Gordon stated after the lawsuit was filed. “The City got steamrolled by Hines from the beginning, and ignored the public outcry from a united coalition of residents and community groups that the project being proposed was too massive and would generate unbearable traffic in an already gridlocked area.”

Opponents of the Hines DA and Bergamot Transit Village project, such as SMCLC, contend there are “fundamental flaws” with the development’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR). It is also argued the project will add more than 7,000 additional new daily car trips in the Bergamot Station area, where vehicle congestion already exists, in part, because of The Water Garden and other business parks near Olympic Boulevard and 26th Street… (more)


Streamlined CEQA Review for Infill Projects (SB 226)

Streamlined CEQA Review for Infill Projects (SB 226)

On October 4, 2011, Governor Brown signed SB 226 (Simitian). That bill makes several changes to the California Environmental Quality Act (Public Resources Code Sections 21000 and following), also known as CEQA. Those changes include, among others:

  • Rooftop photovoltaic solar projects, and their associated equipment, are statutorily exempt from environmental review (New Public Resources Code Section 21080.35)
  • The Energy Commission will retain jurisdiction over certain solar projects that convert to photovoltaic solar projects (New Public Resources Code Section 25500.1)
  • A project’s greenhouse gas emissions will not preclude use of an otherwise applicable categorical exemption (Amended Public Resources Code Section 21084)
  • Environmental review for certain infill projects will be eligible for streamlined environmental review once OPR develops, and the Natural Resources Agency, adopts performance standards for such projects in the CEQA Guidelines (New Public Resources Code Section 21094.5)… (more)

Are these solar rooftop projects protected by law from shadows of neighboring buildings once they are built, and if so why not?

2014 CEQA Statutes and Guidelines

Court Strikes Down Environmental Review of Controversial Kern Water Bank

Court Strikes Down Environmental Review of Controversial Kern Water Bank

California Officials Failed to Consider Environmental Impacts of Bank Operation

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— In a pair of rulings on Wednesday, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley struck down the environmental review of the operation of the Kern Water Bank, the country’s largest underground water-banking operation and the subject of nearly two decades of controversy and litigation.

In a victory for environmentalists, sportfishers, Delta farmers and State Water Project ratepayers, Judge Frawley found that the Department of Water Resources failed to properly consider the impacts of the operation of the Kern Water Bank by San Joaquin Valley agribusiness interests when it prepared its environmental review in 2010.

The water bank was transferred out of state control as part of the controversial “Monterey Amendments” to the State Water Project long-term contracts, which were also at issue in the suit. The court ruled in favor of the Department of Water Resources on these claims, confining its criticism of the environmental review to that part that dealt with the Kern Water Bank’s operations.

“We’re pleased that the court agreed with us that the environmental review for the operation of the Kern Water Bank didn’t pass muster. It’s an important victory for the public and for California’s wildlife,” said Adam Keats, senior counsel with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We now have a chance to shine light on the murky operation of the Kern Water Bank, including its role in the destruction of the Bay Delta ecosystem and in fueling speculative real estate development and unsustainable agribusiness practices like growing nut trees in Kern County.”

“The Kern Water Bank is an essential component of the bad deal that was the Monterey Amendments,” said Carolee Krieger, president and executive director of the California Water Impact Network. “The Department of Water Resources and its friends in big agribusiness have tried and failed a second time to cram this deal down our throats. We don’t intend to allow it a third attempt.”

“The Kern Water Bank has long been a means to advance the interests of subsidized crops ahead of fisheries and the need for a sustainable and reliable supply of clean drinking water for California’s cities,” said Bill Jennings, chairman of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance in Stockton. “The Kern Water Bank has played a shameful role in the collapse of Delta ecosystems and our once-great salmon fisheries, and we’re hopeful that this ruling is the beginning of the end of this rogue operation.”

The parties will now go back before Judge Frawley to determine how this ruling affects the current and any future operation of the Kern Water Bank.

For more information on the Monterey Plus Amendments, see http://www.c-win.org/monterey-plus-agreement.html. The California Water Impact Network promotes the equitable and environmental use of California’s water, including instream uses, through research, planning, public education, and litigation. http://www.c-win.org

CSPA is a non-profit conservation and research organization established in 1983 for the purpose of conserving, restoring, and enhancing the state’s water quality and fishery resources and their aquatic and riparian ecosystems. http://www.calsport.org

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 675,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org

Contact: Adam Keats, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 632-5304
Carolee Krieger, C-WIN, (805) 969-0824
Bill Jennings, CSPA, (209) 464-5067

Aaron Starr’s Plaza Program Overview and Presentation Material

The Plaza Program does not establish any plazas, but would establish a program framework

Mar. 13, 2014 Planning Commission meeting: MARCH 13, 2014
…Proposed amendments to Section 234 of the Planning Code that could support the more broad Plaza Program as well as address several common – sense clean – up and efficiency amendments to that section that are not directly related to the establishment of this new program. We look forward to describing the goals and processes of the Plaza Program for you so that you can have more context for the small section of the proposed Planning Code amendments (234.1(e) that is designed to support this new initiative. The proposed Plaza Program does not establish any plazas, but would establish a program framework… (more)
Four pieces of legislation were introduced at BOS – January 28, 2014 (140061, 140062, 140063, 140064) Hearing at Planning Commission – February 27, 2014 2014.00180T. Legislation was drafted by OEWD (Robin Havens – 554-5395), and is co-sponsored by the Mayor and Supervisor Cohen. There is virtually no public notice or awareness and the scope is unknown, but appears to be wide-ranging.
One project mentioned is a plaza converting 19th Street up against I-280 freeway. This legislation is racing through. No one seems to be informed or aware of this. Read attached staff report… (more)

Warriors, Giants open to teaming up on arena near AT&T Park

Warriors, Giants open to teaming up on arena near AT&T Park

By Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross : sfgate – excerpt

An increasingly hostile political climate, coupled with the prospect of rocketing costs and a drawn-out permit fight, has rekindled prospects of the Warriors trying to team up with the Giants to shift the site for their proposed waterfront arena down to the parking lot across from AT&T Park…

One big reason for the possible southward shift is the emergence of a June ballot measure that would require voter approval for all waterfront developments taller than the current 48-foot limit. The Warriors intend to build condos and a hotel across from the Piers 30-32 site to help pay for the arena, but a couple of polls in recent weeks show they could be a deal-killer with voters… (more)

Would this shift south put the Warriors plans out of bounds of the waterfront area under dispute?

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