Court Rules on Parking Reduction & CEQA Impact

BKK : jdsu – excerpt

Confirms Reduction in Parking Considered Social Impact Rather Than Environmental-

The Second Appellate District Court of Appeal has upheld approval of a recreational improvements/ecological restoration project despite the fact that the project would reduce parking space availability. The appellate court rejected a claim that the environmental impact report violated the California Environmental Quality Act by failing to sufficiently analyze impacts of reduced recreational parking. (Save Our Access-San Gabriel Mountains v. Watershed Conservation Authority (Cal. Ct. App., Aug. 19, 2021, No. B303494) 2021 WL 3673902 (“Save Our Access”).)…(more)

The Same Law California NIMBYs Use To Block Housing Is Now Freezing College Enrollments and Halting Hospital Expansions

By Christian Britschgi : reason – excerpt

A string of adverse court decisions will stop the University of California Board of Regents from adding more students to its Berkeley campus and adding more hospital beds to its medical center in San Francisco

California’s landmark environmental law can stop more than just housing projects, the University of California Board of Regents discovered this week.

The governing body of the state’s second-largest public university system suffered successive adverse rulings in two separate lawsuits. It is now being required to freeze student enrollment at one campus and stop the expansion of a hospital at another.

On Monday, the Superior Court of Alameda ruled that the University of California, Berkeley must keep its student population flat for the coming academic year while a more thorough study is done of the environmental impacts of bringing more young scholars onto campus.

A few days earlier, the same court ruled that construction activity will have to stop on a hospital expansion at the University of California San Francisco’s (UCSF) Parnassus Heights campus while a separate lawsuit questioning that project’s environmental impacts plays out…(more)

Court Upholds Special CEQA Streamlining Legislation for Oakland A’s Park Project

By Liz Klebaner, Nossaman LLP : jdsupra – excerpt

The enactment of special CEQA streamlining legislation for the Sacramento Kings arena nearly a decade ago created a model for a series of mega-project specific bills, all aimed at reducing the development uncertainty and the delay inherent in CEQA litigation. In a recent decision, the First District Court of Appeal had the occasion to interpret and give effect to such legislation enacted for the Oakland A’s baseball park and mixed-use development project at the Howard Terminal in Oakland.

The Court in Pacific Merchant Shipping Association v. Newsom, First Appellate District (A162001) considered whether Assembly Bill 734 (2017-2018 Reg. Sess.) required the Governor to certify the project’s eligibility for a streamlined process of judicial review by January 1, 2020. Unlike parallel special legislation, AB 734 did not include an express certification deadline. However, the bill appeared to incorporate by reference regulations adopted by the California Natural Resources Agency to implement judicial streamlining on other projects, and those regulations included a January 1, 2020 certification deadline.

Although the Governor did not certify the baseball park and mixed-use development for judicial streamlining until after January 1, 2020, the Court validated the use of the streamlined judicial review process after applying various rules of statutory construction.… (more)

Staring down the housing crunch

By Julia Baum : pleasantonweekly – excerpt
Why Pleasanton, Dublin, Danville and San Ramon appealed their RHNA allotments (and why Livermore didn’t)

Four Tri-Valley cities are among the 27 Bay Area jurisdictions appealing their assignments for the next Regional Housing Needs Allocation process cycle, contending that the proposed housing unit allotments present too many obstacles.

Danville, Dublin, Pleasanton and San Ramon have each filed an individual appeal and are seeking to reduce their allocation from an Association of Bay Area Governments appeals committee, made up of local elected officials, before the final RHNA Plan is adopted this fall…(more)

The Middle East Is Draining Its Water Supply

By James Zogby via email : Twitter – except

Drought and government action threaten the dozens of civilizations that have been nourished by these waters for millennia.

For millennia, dozens of civilizations and hundreds of millions of souls have been nourished by the waters of the Middle East—the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the East, the Nile in the West, and the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River flowing through its heart. Crops were grown, and fish were caught; people drank, bathed, and washed clothes; and the waters figured prominently in various religious texts. They were taken for granted, because they were always there and it was assumed they would always be there. But this is no longer the case.

A combination of climate change and unilateral initiatives by three of the region’s governments has dramatically lessened the supply of water. If these challenges are not addressed, the results will be devastating to the livelihood and survival of hundreds of millions of people and other living beings, and the resultant tensions have the potential to fuel even greater conflicts than we see at present.

It should be noted that the three unilateral actors are the non-Arab states of Turkey, Israel, and Ethiopia, while the affected populations also include the Arab peoples of Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, and Sudan…

James Zogby is the founder and president of the Arab American Institute and was a member of the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2017…(more)

Judge blocks—for now—massive UC expansion in Parnassus Heights

By Tim Redmond : 48hils – excerpt

Temporary order saves historic murals and could force the school to negotiate with the neighborhood that its development project will impact.

An Alameda County judge has blocked the University of California from moving forward on its massive planned demolition and construction on Parnassus Heights.

Judge Frank Roesch approved Friday a temporary restraining order barring the school from any action that would threaten the historic Zackheim murals at Toland Hall….

Since that’s the main area that UC has been preparing for construction, the order in effect slows down a project that violates the school’s longtime legal promises to the neighborhood.

In 1976, UC made a binding promise to limit its footprint on Parnassus Heights—in the middle of a dense residential neighborhood—to 3.55 million gross square feet… (more)

Berkeley Citizens for a Better Plan files CEQA lawsuit against UC Regents

Theo Wyss-Flamm/Staff, dailycal – excerpt

Berkeley Citizens for a Better Plan, or BC4BP, filed a California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, lawsuit against the UC Board of Regents over UC Berkeley’s Long Range Development Plan, or LRDP, on Aug. 19.

The LRDP outlines strategies for how campus plans to address shortages in student housing and improve transportation and infrastructure between now and the 2036-37 academic year.

According to BC4BP’s attorney Leila Moncharsh, UC Berkeley failed to adequately address key environmental concerns, such as detailed measures of exhaust and greenhouse gases that would be released through the addition of housing units, from its Environmental Impact Report, or EIR.

“We like our quality of life in Berkeley; we don’t want it to be degraded,” Moncharsh said. “We’re going to do our very best for the community in Berkeley and for the city, and actually for the university as well, to try to come up with a better plan.”

Moncharsh noted that campus’s EIR appeared “hurried,” adding that the normal process, which involves creating an EIR for an LRDP and then proposing development projects, was abridged, with campus instead proposing its LRDP and projects at the same time.

The Board of Regents issued a “statement of overriding considerations,” which provides reasoning for why a project’s environmental impacts might be overlooked in light of economic, social, technological or other benefits.

“That document is only used when you’ve got a negative impact you really can’t correct, and you didn’t have any feasible alternatives — not for this,” Moncharsh said…(more)

Colorado River, Lifeline Of The West, Sees Historic Water Shortage Declaration

Kirk Siegler : npr – excerpt (excerpt) includes audio track and transcript

The first-ever shortage declaration on the Colorado River forces arid Western states to re-examine their relationship with resources many take for granted, drinking water and cheap hydroelectricity.


For the first time ever, the U.S. government declared a shortage on the Colorado River last week. That means states like Arizona that rely on the river for their water supply are seeing big cutbacks as a punishing drought continues in the west. The Colorado River and its tributaries are a lifeline to some 40 million people in multiple states, including in California, who rely on it for drinking water. The river also irrigates countless farms and generates lots of cheap hydropower. So a shortage on the Colorado is a big deal, and we wanted to hear more about that. We asked NPR’s Kirk Siegler to talk us through it. He covers the West and has been reporting on the Colorado River for years…(more)

Raze, rebuild, repeat: why Japan knocks down its houses after 30 years

By Nate Burg in Midorigaoka : theguardian – excerpt

Unlike in other countries, Japanese homes become valueless over time – but as the population shrinks, can its cities finally learn to slow down and refurb?

In the suburban neighbourhood of Midorigaoka, about an hour by train outside Kobe, Japan, all the houses were built by the same company in the same factory. Steel frames fitted out with panel walls and ceilings, these homes were clustered by the hundreds into what was once a brand new commuter town. But they weren’t built to last.

Daiwa House, one of the biggest prefabricated housing manufacturers in Japan, built this town in the 60s during a postwar housing boom. It’s not unlike the suburban subdivisions of the western world, with porches, balconies and rooflines that shift and repeat up and down blocks of gently curving roads. Most of those houses built in the 60s are no longer standing, having long since been replaced by newer models, finished with fake brick ceramic siding in beiges, pinks and browns. In the end, most of these prefabricated houses – and indeed most houses in Japan – have a lifespan of only about 30 years…(more)

Supreme Court Revives Lawsuit Over San Francisco Lifetime Tenant Rule

By Nicholas Iovino : courthousenews – excerpt

Landlords challenging a lifetime lease requirement for converted condos can sue San Francisco even if they failed to meet deadlines for applying for a waiver with the city.

(CN) The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday revived a couple’s challenge of a San Francisco ordinance requiring landlords to offer lifetime leases to tenants when they convert shared multi-unit buildings into condominiums.

“The decision today recognizes that property owners don’t have to jump through endless hoops to have a chance to make their arguments,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Jeffrey McCoy of the Pacific Legal Foundation.

Peyman Pakdel and Sima Chegini bought a tenancy-in-common interest in a six-unit building in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood in 2009. The TIC agreement they signed with other owners obligated them to take all necessary steps to convert the building to condominiums…

“Of course, Congress always has the option of imposing a strict administrative-exhaustion requirement — just as it has done for certain civil-rights claims filed by prisoners,” the Supreme Court wrote. “But it has not done so for takings plaintiffs.”…(more)

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