Fourth District Affirms Judgment Rejecting Numerous CEQA Challenges to EIR and Approval Process for Large Master-Planned Riverside County Development Project

By Miller Starr Regalia : lexology – excerpt

In a 46-page opinion filed February 14 and ordered published on March 15, 2017, the Fourth District Court of Appeal rejected numerous CEQA challenges to Riverside County’s approval of an EIR for Specific Plan 380, a 200-acre master-planned, mixed-use community in the County’s French Valley region. Residents Against Specific Plan 380 v. County of Riverside (Hanna Marital Trust, Real Party in Interest) (4th Dist., Div. 2, 2017) _____ Cal.App.5th ______. In affirming the trial court’s judgment denying the plaintiff/appellant group’s mandate petition, the Court of Appeal found no merit in any of the group’s arguments that County failed to comply with a number of procedural, informational and substantive CEQA requirements…

Nature of Appellant’s Arguments… (more)

Burn Baby Burn: Trump Set To Eviscerate Obama’s Environmental Protection and Climate Change Reforms

by – excerpt

With the health care reform defeat, the Trump Administration is moving aggressively toward new goals including tax cuts in Congress.  Today, however, he will keep another pledge and dismantle Obama orders protecting the environment and combating climate change and environmental protection. With the rescinding of the orders, Trump will place the United States in the most anti-climate change posture of any major nation, rivaling even China in the lack of hard commitments to move away from fossil fuels. Indeed, he is expected to open up new leases for coal and relax regulations to allow increased fossil fuel consumption.  As I have previously discussed, this move is not only running against the grain of other major nations but against the market itself. While other countries are moving aggressively toward clean energy and green markets, the United States will be moving aggressively backward…

obviously view the rollback on environmental and energy policies to be a terrible decision for the public. Indeed, any rational review of the market can see that green technology and alternative energy is the future for the world economy.  We are going big on yesterday’s industries like the investors who bet heavily on new canal projects despite the obvious advancement of railroads.  Tesla is now worth as much if not more than Ford.  Solar energy not employs more than all of the fossil fuel industries combined.  Major nations are now moving to be fossil free with huge strides in the use of alternative energy sources, including Germany.

I have always been caught in a philosophical dilemma. I believe that these issues need to be decided by Congress even though I have little faith that Congress will move toward greater environmental protection and alternative fuels.  That is burden of a representative democracy. I do not believe that these issues should be decided unilaterally by Obama or Trump.  The decisions come with great costs either way.  It needs to be a decision of the country as a whole.  However, I believe that Obama was right about the need to move strongly in favor of these measures to protect the future of this country and the whole at large.  I have no objections to Republicans who raise questions about the real benefits of some measures, particularly given their high costs. I also believe that there is a need to address the skyrocketing regulations imposed on businesses. However, we need to take action (in my view) to curtail these pollutants and have this debate . . . on the floor of Congress…(more)

I don’t think anyone is going to convince GE to start producing incandescent light bulbs again. I doubt anyone will go back to transistor radios. Maybe some people will consider going back in the coal mines, but the market may not be there, and reviving a dead market may not be worth it. The car industry is way past producing gas guzzlers. Industries are moving at a fast pace, developing new products for a hungry consumer market. It probably will not take Trump long to figure this out. The real problem that needs to be solved is much more difficult than turning the clock back. We need a new paradigm for a culture and society that may not need to work 40 hours a week. If the robots already in the planning phase are rolled out the way their inventors intend, we will have to figure out how to live with them and without the high level of employment we currently enjoy. Robots are the threat to employment, not foreign trade. Maybe one of Trump’s kids can work on that problem. That is the one that needs solving.

Moving away from “environmental reviews” that favor driving: San Francisco, Mountain View, Menlo Park

greencaltrain – excerpt

Three recent environmental reviews reveal the dramatic transition under way in California’s assessment of the transportation impacts of new buildings.

San Francisco’s Central SOMA plan is the first “Environmental Impact Report” (EIR) in the Bay Area that we know of for a land use plan that moves away from a method of analysis that favors driving and promotes car-centric place design.   San Francisco’s recent report, using new rules, is dramatically different from new reports in Mountain View and Menlo Park, cities that have been transitioning to less car-centric policies, but still use the older standard in environmental reviews…

Mountain View North Bayshore

The City of Mountain View also places a high priority on reducing the share of driving in the North Bayshore area, where Google is headquartered. The North Bayshore precise plan requires a reduction in drivealone mode share from the current rate around 60% to 45% in the time frame of the plan.  This year, the city is updating its North Bayshore Precise Plan to incorporate housing, transforming a single use office park into a mixed-use neighborhood with housing and services…

Menlo Park – El Camino near Caltrain

Menlo Park is another city that has been updating its policies and plans to more effectively support multi-modal travel, though its multi-modal policies are less strong than those of Mountain View.  Like Mountain View, Menlo Park has not yet made the shift to VMT. Menlo Park recently adopted a new General Plan. Updates to its Transportation Impact Analysis guidelines, including rules to incorporate the use of VMT, and changes to transportation impact fees, are proposed for a transportation guidelines update to be completed in 2018… (more)

SF Planning Rules Swirl with Sewage to Clog Affordable Housing Pipeline

By Lena Wenus : missionlocal – excerpt

All it takes to delay an affordable housing project in San Francisco is $578 and filling out a simple form.

Take the case of the affordable housing project at 2060-2070 Folsom Street, where one neighbor’s list of complaints – including one about sewage and flooding – could stall the project for as long as six months.

Margaret Eve-Lynne Miyasaki, a neighbor of the project, recently paid $578 to file a request for a discretionary review of the 127-unit, nine-story project. The Plannign Commission approved the project in July 2016 – some thought, finally – after a multi-year process that included multiple changes including making it taller.

No matter. Miyasaki’s form, filed on Feb. 8, triggers a new hearing of the seven-member commission… (more)

I’m not questioning the building so much as I question the design of the park that is covered by concrete. If an impervious groundcover can absorb runoff, why are they pouring concrete on every inch of the “park”? Why don’t they plant grass or ground cover or make it into an edible garden for the neighborhood to share?  How can they complain about a parking lot or sidewalks and streets when they are covering a park with concrete?

SF Supervisor Aaron Peskin named to California Coastal Commission

By By Peter Fimrite : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who has worked for environmental nonprofit groups for three decades, was appointed Thursday to the California Coastal Commission, an agency racked by dissension over the past year after the firing of its executive director.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León appointed Peskin to fill the commission seat representing the North Coast and Central Coast, which was vacated by former Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey, who retired.

The commission, widely considered one of the most powerful and effective coastal-protection agencies in the country, was created by voter initiative in 1972 to regulate development and protect the coastline.

“I am honored, delighted and excited,” Peskin said. “Our coast is under a tremendous amount of pressure. There are a whole slew of issues related to sea-level rise and I look forward to being at the cutting edge on all those matters.”…

Peskin said he will resign his position on the board of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District so he can dedicate more time to the Coastal Commission, which he acknowledged is in the midst of “some tumult.” He will represent an area that includes Marin, San Francisco and Sonoma counties...

Continue reading “SF Supervisor Aaron Peskin named to California Coastal Commission”

California lawmakers aim to repeal anti-rent control law

Grassroots Actions

by :curbed – excerpt

Landlords love the Costa-Hawkins Act, a bane to tenants’ rights advocates

A new bill authored by San Francisco Assemblyman David Chiu would do away with the 22-year-old Costa-Hawkins Act, the law that exempts new construction from rent control and generates ire with tenants’ rights activists.

Introduced by Chiu and two other California lawmakers in February, AB 1506 is only two lines long in its present form, which read:

The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act prescribes statewide limits on the application of local rent control with regard to certain properties.

This bill would repeal that act.

Not much room for loopholes there… (more)

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Not a good week for the earth

Bad news out of Washington and City Hall this week. I will not dwell on Washington as it is all over the news. Not so much on the decision at City Hall that could result in the killing of our urban forest in order to bring back the native grasses and brush that greeted the Spanish explorers when they landed.


Poison is in. Human access to the parks and trails, and free dog runs are on their way out, or will be severely limited if the program, as planned, is executed.

The Board of supervisors voted 9-1 (Jane Kim was excused prior to the vote) to deny the appeal to the Natural Areas Plan that will kill many trees and spread what is widely considered to be a dangerous carcinogen on our parks to manage their demise. This decision was based on a Programmatic EIR, and may effect many projects city wide. At the same time, each project may face a potential appeal and budget constraints as it comes up. This is step one in efforts to force major changes in how the parks are managed. The battle is lost but the war continues.

In the words of Park and Rec representatives taken from the transcript: “We did an analysis that was appropriate for a project level review and that was-so the tree removal that we are talking about large scale tree removal was evaluated at a program level so what that means is we don’t have the information to specific information to do a very detailed project level analysis. That would happen during a subsequent review. When rec and park comes to planning later on and says here is our project and it fits under the category of large scale tree removal we evaluate in the EIR and if we find new significant impacts not were not identified another level of environmental review is required at that nt in time.”

For more details on this plan and to be updated on efforts to stop the projects as they come up, please go to this petition site for links etc. If you want to continue to support the efforts to stop this sign the petition and stay tuned to the messages coming out of this and many other environmental groups who oppose the plan.

Some notes from the February 28, Board of Supervisors Meeting:

1. SF Supervisor Norman Yee voted in support of saving the trees and stopping the pesticides! He voted yes to appeal the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the plan. This was the most important outcome because the Mt. Davidson Forest resides in the area he was elected to represent, District 7 in San Francisco.

This took an incredible amount of courage by Supervisor Yee, as the pressure from SF Rec and Park to support the deforestation was immense.

Please send Supervisor Yee a quick note of thanks for voting to save the Mt. Davidson Forest from chainsaws and pesticides!

Supervisor Norman Yee

2. Pesticide Issue Highlighted: Supervisor Yee is especially concerned about SF Rec and Park’s use of toxic herbicides like Roundup to kill the trees permanently. He was unsatisfied with the Department’s answers to the questions about increased pesticides and the potential runoff into the Miraloma Elementary School. He doesn’t feel these issues were adequately studied. “That bothers me a lot. I will be supporting the appeal,” said Supervisor Yee.

New SF Supervisor Jeff Sheehy for District 8 launched an epic line of questioning about pesticides. He started with, “Walk me through the herbicides and the use of Roundup in parks” and then asked every single tough question one could imagine. “Will these chemicals migrate into the groundwater?”… “It doesn’t sound like you reviewed it.”“How can you say that you are using the same amount when you will be using more?”… Supervisor Sheehy concluded, “These herbicides make the parks unusable.”

Please send Supervisor Sheehy a quick note of thanks for standing up for public health and saying no to Roundup in our parks!

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy

New Supervisor Hillary Ronen for District 9 also noted that the answers SF Rec and Park provided about the pesticides were “unsatisfying.”

Supervisors Sheehy, Yee and Ronen have valid concerns. Glyphosate in Roundup is a probable carcinogen according to the World Health Organization. A 2014 study by the U.S. Geological Survey showed that glyphosate accumulates in groundwater and even in rainfall. Do we really want it raining Roundup in San Francisco? Groundwater is now being mixed into our tapwater, and the risk of poisoning residents is real.

SF Rec and Park tries to pass the buck on pesticides to the SF Department of the Environment. They say they are just following SF Environment’s Integrated Pest Management Program which allows poisonous chemicals like Roundup, Aquamaster, and Garlon to be sprayed in parks where children play.

RELATED News:  Judge Blocks Monsanto’s Bid to Stop California From Listing Glyphosate as Carcinogenic California could become the first state to require Monsanto to label its glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup, as a possible carcinogen following Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan’s tentative ruling on Friday… The OEHHA made the decision following the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) findings that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A)” in March 2015… (more)

3. Old Trees Matter:  Both SF Planning and SF Rec and Park went on the record as saying that old trees sequester more carbon than young trees. That is an encouraging sign. Back in November 2016, they were asserting the opposite which is one of the reasons I started this petition. Recent studies prove just how valuable large, old trees are in the fight against climate change. So let’s plant trees and save trees both!

4. Craziest Lines: Here are some of the craziest things people said last night:

“Eating bacon has the same risk factor as Roundup” – Lisa Wayne, SF Rec and Park

”Wild places do not take care of themselves” – Phil Ginsburg, GM, SF Rec and Park

“You can walk into Home Depot and buy Roundup” – Lisa Wayne, SF Rec and Park

“These trees don’t matter because they are all going to die at some point anyway”  SF Planning describing trees that can live another 200 years

“The environment is under attack. This plan represents best practices” – Phil Ginsburg, GM, SF Rec and Park

“This arena is going to cause more traffic congestion!” – from a member of the public who crashes every meeting

FORESTRY vs. NATURAL RESOURCES: Trees under the Forestry division of SF Rec and Park get managed. Trees under the Natural Resources division get cut down. This is a distinction that virtually nobody understands.

People are persuaded to support the Natural Resources plan because “our forests need to be managed.” This is supposed to be the job of Forestry. The intention of Natural Resources is to take San Francisco’s landscape back to how it looked in the 1700s. It was a fairly desolate place with sand dunes, scrub, and limited trees only in creek beds. Many of these park forests haven’t been “managed” because they were transferred over to Natural Resources who has been trying to cut them down for 10 years.

THE FUTURE: In the future, SF Rec and Park may try again to destroy the Mt. Davidson Forest. Hopefully not! If so, this would be subject to public review, and we could ask for your help again in standing up for the trees.

For San Francisco residents, if you see a Park Bond on the ballot, please scrutinize the fine print carefully. If you see language about “restoration of parks”, this can mean cutting down healthy trees and converting them to bushes. Please advocate in advance for what you do want in the bond. SF Rec and Park has $1 billion in deferred maintenance. SF taxpayers would rather the Department spend precious dollars on basic maintenance and new playgrounds, rather than deforestation… (more)




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