Citizens group fights city’s new short-term vacation rentals proposal

sdnews – excerpt

The City of San Diego has been put on notice by citizens group Save San Diego Neighborhoods that if the mayor and City Council intend to change the city’s municipal code to allow short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods, it must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

On Tuesday, Sept. 8, Save San Diego Neighborhoods’ attorneys delivered a letter with the notice and request for a formal reply from Robert Vacchi, director of the San Diego Development Services Department.

The letter advises city officials that changing the city’s municipal code to allow short-term vacation rentals (STVR) to operate in San Diego’s residential zones represents a “fundamental change” to the municipal code. Save San Diego neighborhoods also asserts that to allow STVR into residential zones violates the city’s general plan and adversely effects all ten elements of the plan, in particular, noise, housing and services and safety.

“The eventual adoption of an ordinance expressly allowing STVRs in single family residential zones will have multiple, foreseeable, direct and indirect physical impacts upon the environment and constitutes a non-exempt ‘project’ under CEQA,” the letter states…  (more)

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400-Square-Foot Two-Bedrooms Proposed, Planning Has Concerns

socketsite – excerpt

Panoramic Interests plans to raze the single-story industrial building at 333 12th Street and build up to seven stories and 274 apartments on the parcel and adjacent parking lot between Folsom and Harrison.

s currently zoned, the Western SoMa site could support around 200 units of housing in buildings up to five stories in height, but Panoramic intends to invoke California’s Density Bonus law, which could allow for the additional height and density for the “affordable-by-design/workforce” project if approved.

Regardless, the proposed units would average 398 square feet apiece, or roughly 350 square feet excluding the bathrooms.  And that includes the two-bedrooms as well..(more)

398 square foot two-bedroom units are being presented to qualify as additional units under the state bonus housing plan. Now Mayor Lee wants to extend this plan to include even more density and height for more affordable untied on site. This could be your worst nightmare. The Planning Commissioners aren’t sure about this. A good reason for our petition: We need a better Plan

Brown deal allows steals local rights

hanfordsentinel – excerpt

“CANOE THEORY AT WORK IN GUV’S CEQA EXEMPTION DEALS”

Gov. Jerry Brown has never professed to be the model of political or ideological consistency. In fact, he’s a decades-long advocate of the “canoe theory” of politics, which goes like this: You paddle a little to the left and you paddle a little to the right, and you keep going straight down the middle of the steam.”

You also keep all sides guessing a lot of the time and you make sure opponents of some of your policies are allies on others.

So the governor who once proclaimed that “small is beautiful” and announced an “era of limits” for California apparently has no stomach for limits on huge developments.

That’s the meaning of the agreements he made with legislators to exempt some of the most significant building projects on California drawing boards from many environmental regulations. These deals were part of the horse-trading that led to easy passage of the new state budget.

Brown’s press release on the budget, of course, made no mention of such deals, which also exempt the project-enabling bills from thorough legislative hearings because like the developments they promote, they are fast-tracked…

This is the same governor who has not opposed changes in the California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA, that allow developers to qualify initiatives okaying their projects for local ballots and then let city councils adopt those initiatives without a public vote or debate.

If this is what Brown really meant when he campaigned in 2010 on a promise to devolve more government authority to locals and away from the state, it will surely go down as one of the least green and least positive legacies of his long political career…  (more)

These discrepancies have not gone unnoticed by the press, but this a particularly well-authored interpretation. Good reading for those of us who lack the clarity or the nerve to call the Governor out on his tactics.

California has a real water market — but it’s not exactly liquid

By  : grist – excerpt

When I started reporting on California’s drought I heard a lot of people complaining that farmers were growing crops that would simply be prohibitively expensive if they had to buy and sell their water at a fair market price.

That seemed like a big problem. I wrote:

The best fix would be a comprehensive overhaul of the laws to make the price of water clear and responsive to scarcity. If the price of water moved according to the laws of supply and demand, ecological limits would provoke change.

But then I learned that, actually, California already has a water market. Farmers can buy and sell water. In theory, this market should distribute water to where it’s needed most. That is, if there are people who can make more money growing food on their land than I can on mine, they’d buy my water.

And for the most part, it works. Farmers trade water all the time — especially from the east side of the San Joaquin Valley to the west. “The people who are doing those deals really do have a pretty good idea of what the market price of water is,” said Ellen Hanak, director of the Water Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California…

California has the infrastructure to move water: giant dams, pumps, canals, tunnels that run under mountain ranges, and pipes that go over them. A farmer on the Trinity River, 200 miles north of San Francisco, can sell water to Los Angeles, and the system can actually make that delivery. But the journey is risky… (more)

RELATED:
Selling water rights

California Water Rights

ca.statewater – excerpt – (interactive map)

Interactive map showing California’s water supply.

THE RIGHT TO BEAR KNOWLEDGE

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

Peter Drucker

The primary challenge with water in California is not its scarcity, but rather how we manage it. Many experts have mutually concluded, that a major first step to improving our management of water is by reforming how we account for it. Whether a lack of adequate statements of diversion for surface and subsurface waters, or the existence of a fine grained environmental monitoring network, it is clear that we could do a better job of recording and measuring. New instruments and institutions are necessary to accomplish this. It is not a question of technology, but one of techniques. The technology is available and affordable, but the institutions and practices of how we measure and document our water resources are not fully mature. We must get control of our understanding of what is in the system at any given point. We owe it to ourselves, our economy, and our ecosystem. This effort benefits all stakeholders.

http://projects-ca.statewater.org/water-rights

Supported by PATAGONIA, INC. a California B Corp

United States: State Agencies Can’t Say CEQA Mitigation Is Infeasible If Earmarked Funds Are Unavailable, High Court Says

by Kenneth Kecskes : realestatecounsel – excerpt

When environmental review of a proposed development project by a state agency shows that it will have traffic impacts, a state agency is not allowed to nevertheless approve the project on the grounds that the funds needed to mitigate congestion have not been earmarked by the Legislature, the California Supreme Court has held.

The court’s recent unanimous decision in City of San Diego v. Board of Trustees of the California State University is significant for two important reasons.  First, it is now clear that state agencies cannot shift the costs of off-site environmental mitigation of their projects to local and regional governments, except in very limited circumstances.  Second, the use of a “statement of overriding considerations” by the legislative body of a lead agency will not be given deference by the courts if potential mitigation measures are not “truly infeasible.”…

… if the Legislature did not make an earmarked appropriation for specific environmental mitigation, the Board of Trustees argued that it could take the position that mitigation was infeasible and the Board of Trustees could adopt a statement of overriding considerations and approve the project.  A “statement of overriding considerations” is a legal tool under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) that allows a reviewing public agency to approve a project because it offers non-environmental benefits that outweigh its unmitigated significant environmental effects…

CEQA is not only a procedural statute.  Many provisions of CEQA have as their focus the preparation of environmental documents to inform the public and decision makers of the significant environmental impacts of proposed projects.  However, as this case makes clear, CEQA’s “substantive” limitations on the powers of state agencies and local legislative bodies to make decisions should not be overlooked…  (more)

RELATED:

California Supreme Court Holds that State Agencies May Not Escape CEQA Mitigation Requirements Based on Failure of the Legislature to Appropriate Mitigation Funds :  In a decision that enhances the ability of local interests to obtain mitigation funds from state agencies, the California Supreme Court held that the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) requires the Board of Trustees (“Board”) of the California State University (“CSU”) to mitigate the cumulative traffic impacts of a campus expansion project where the Legislature had not appropriated funds to pay for the traffic mitigation… (more)

California Supreme Court Could Stop Bullet Train : The California Supreme Court threw a giant obstacle on the California bullet train’s track, ruling that the state agencies cannot escape the state’s environmental laws by claiming federal laws supersede them… (more)

Jacobs wins $1.2 billion high-speed rail contract

Los Angeles Business Journal, 7/21/15 – excerpt

A consortium led by Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. has been awarded a $1.2 billion contract to provide design services for the second section of the California high-speed rail system.

The contract is for the Construction Package 2-3 of the California High Speed Rail, which represents the continuation of construction on the rail system south towards Kern County.

Pasadena-based Jacobs(NYSE: JEC) is the lead designer for the joint venture for the design-build contract and is responsible for the infrastructure design. The venture includes Dragados USA Inc., a subsidiary of Spain’s Grupo ACS and Dragados S.A., and Flatiron West Inc. of San Marcos. http://www.dfcp23.com

The California High Speed Rail is the first true high-speed rail being constructed in the United States, with operating speeds of up to 220 miles per hour. The ultimate program stretches from San Diego to San Francisco and includes connections in major cities such as Los Angeles, Burbank, Palmdale, Bakersfield, Fresno and a spur to Sacramento.

The Construction Package 2-3 is expected to provide 65 miles of infrastructure improvements required for the future high-speed rail, including 10 million yards of new high-speed rail embankment, 23 high-speed rail structures and 32 new roadway grade separations. The project covers a 65-mile portion of the 120-mile initial construction segment, which will be used as a test track for vehicles before being put into service.

“This project is one of the largest in the state’s history and, once completed, should provide the traveling public with a fast, clean alternative stretching from Southern to Northern California,” Jacobs Group Vice President Randy Pierce said in a statement.

Separately, Jacobs said it also was awarded a five-year, multiple use contract by Suncor Energy Services Inc. for turnaround services at Suncor facilities in the Wood Buffalo region of Alberta, Canada.

Under the terms of the contract, Jacobs may provide pre-work, execution and post-work for turnaround events during planned outages at Suncor facilities. Turnaround services to be provided under this contract include mechanical, piping and support services.

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

This sounds like what the SFMTA was caught doing in North Beach. They signed the contract to tunnel to North Beach four years before they brought the project to the public’s attention. It was at a meeting we attended that Supervisor Chiu was made aware of the situation and started moving the tunnel from the middle of Columbus Avenue to its current spot. Otherwise, North Beach would have a huge whole in the middle of the street next to Washington Square Park and traffic would be worse than it is now, (if you can image that.)

Atherton lawsuit against Caltrain over electrification project clears one

Atherton has won at least an incremental victory against Caltrain’s plans to electrify its tracks through the town, thanks to a federal agency’s determination that the commuter service doesn’t fall under its jurisdiction.

The town in February filed a lawsuit in San Mateo County Superior Court alleging that Caltrain’s environmental impact report for its electrification project does not comply with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines.

Caltrain asked the Surface Transportation Board to exempt it from the CEQA, but on July 2 the federal agency’s board ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over Caltrain… (more)

NBA championship overshadows relocation to San Francisco

Louis LaVenture : thepioneeronline – excerpt

While Oakland celebrated, lawmakers in Sacramento on Friday made the new San Francisco arena deal a lot easier to finalize when they included an environmental law exemption for the planned Warriors stadium at San Francisco’s Mission Bay in the state budget proposal unveiled last week.

The new development requires an environmental impact report detailing what wildlife and animals will be displaced by construction and the plans to rectify displacement, which will be waived for one year due to the new law exemption.

The Mission Bay Alliance is one of the main opponents of the proposed Warriors event center and according to them “The proposed stadium will have a disastrous impact on the health and welfare of thousands of patients and families.” They also stated the new arena would block access to medical services, make parking difficult and cause traffic around the area to hit a complete halt during the 225 events that are planned each year in addition to sports events.

The new arena is located near several hospitals, including those specific for women, children, cancer and cardiology. There is a public hearing regarding the San Francisco arena plan on June 30 at City Hall and public input is being listened to at the meetings until July 20... (more)

8 Washington Backers Appeal One Decision Today, But Won’t Argue Another

hoodline – excerpt

BIG WIN FOR THE CITIZENS OF SAN FRANCISCO!

In news for watchers of the 8 Washington saga, the proposed condo development’s backers have decided not to appeal a recent big decision against them. Read on for the nitty-gritty in the latest installment of the contentious battle over Seawall Lot 351’s future.

Susan Brandt-Hawley, the attorney representing Defend Our Waterfront, a coalition of groups opposed to the project, told the court during a hearing today that the developers of 8 Washington and the Port of San Francisco won’t appeal a decision saying the environmental impact review (EIR) for the entire project is invalid. The California Superior Court ruled the EIR wasn’t legal because a traffic study was inadequate (more)