Oregon Organic Farm Threatened With Forced Herbicide Use Reaches Settlement With County

vineyards1

by Darren Smith : jonthanturley – excerpt

Last weekend we featured two articles (HERE and HERE) describing a controversy involving the forced use of chemical herbicides on an organic farm that according to County officials was out of compliance in controlling noxious weeds that were threatening neighboring farms and crops.

The 2,000 acre organic farm in North Central Oregon is facing what could be a be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides to eradicate weed growth.

I attended the public hearing held at the Sherman County seat located in Moro, Oregon. Due to a very high volume of interest expressed by residents and those outside the community, the venue was changed from the County Courthouse to a gymnasium at the Sherman County High School. There was a great deal of uncertainty manifest in this hearing with strongly held opinions on many sides and one can say with near certainty that the publicity generated caused turmoil in this small community. In fact, the concern was so great, that a number of law enforcement officials were dispatched to the area to provide security to address a worry that things might get out of hand. But in the end the two sides reached an agreement that precludes the forced use of herbicides–and offered both a carrot and stick for both parties to strongly consider…(more)

How much damage can the government do before the public reacts? It appears we had two good outcomes in two states this week that prove when the public protests buildings casting shadows on parks and forced use of poisons on organic farms the government sometimes still listens.

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Q&A Gabrief Metcalf: Is the housing crisis too big to solve?

When Gabriel Metcalf suggested at a forum on affordable housing that cities should be penalized by the state for failing to build enough housing, he drew gasps from fellow panelists.

It’s not that the other panelists disagreed with Metcalf, who as president and CEO of SPUR, is one of the Bay Area’s better-known housing advocates. It’s just that no one else had been willing to make the suggestion.

We talked to Metcalf to discuss the region’s housing crisis and some strategies that might fix it. As the head of SPUR — the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association — Metcalf is in the thick of the housing conversation. That makes sense: Over the decades, SPUR — which has offices in San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland — has helped catalyze some of the region’s critical policy moves, from the founding of BART to the preservation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area… (more)

This is the beginning of the state-wide pitch for truly repressive legislation that will force communities to hand over their land to developers without any “right” to control it or protect them selves. Wiener is already at work on this in Sacramento.

This is why the country has new leadership. The public is wary of this sort of “sustainable” solution to “climate control” when there are many other ways to protect the planet. Clear cutting trees to make room for more towers and crowding people into cities is SPUR’s way of amassing greater wealth and power for the wealthy and powerful.

 

Scientific Reports Confirm Catastrophic Climate Change

By Jonathan Turley : Jonathanturley – excerpt

There are new reports confirming not only climate change but escalating losses of arctic ice. US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s annual Arctic report card has found that this is the hottest year on record in the Arctic and it is now twice as fast as any other place on Earth. Another international study found that the rapid loss of glaciers is caused by climate change to a certainty of 99 percent

The impact could well be catastrophic for the planet. The permafrost holds a huge amount of carbon which is released with the melting — releasing more CO2 and methane into atmosphere. That will further speed up climate change . . . which will result in more ice melting in an accelerating downward spiral. .. (more)

One wonders why any trees are being cut to release more carbon into the air if scientists are concerned by carbon release.

The Housing Crunch Is Our Fault. We Can Fix It.

By Randal O’Toole : cato – excerpt (includes graphs)
(This article appeared in Washington Post on October 13, 2016.)

The only real solution is to repeal the state laws and local plans that created the problem in the first place.

Housing prices are rapidly rising in many urban areas. Prices in the San Francisco Bay Area are higher today — even after adjusting for inflation — than they were at the height of the 2006 bubble. Data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency bears this out:..

Yet this is not a nationwide problem. Prices in many other areas remain quite reasonable. Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth are the nation’s fastest-growing urban areas, yet they remain affordable (which is one reason they are growing so fast). Here are home prices for areas that don’t try to control urban sprawl (again, the data comes from the Federal Housing Finance Agency):…

The difference is that the urban areas with high housing prices have almost all tried to contain urban “sprawl” by limiting the amount of land around the cities that can be developed, using policies such as urban-growth boundaries, urban-service boundaries or concurrency requirements that limit new growth until infrastructure is totally financed. Anyone who understands supply and demand knows that limiting supply in the face of rising demand leads to higher prices…

The only real solution is to repeal the state laws and local plans that created the problem in the first place. That means abolishing growth boundaries and other constraints and allowing developers to build and sell homes outside of existing urban areas.

There is a growing opposition to the dense development theme. SF has ballot initiatives and LA is preparing a moratorium initiative. People do not like living in crowded conditions and do not like being told how to live.
If the Democrats do not take back the Senate maybe they will start to listen to what the citizens are saying instead of telling us how we must change. It is time for Congress to change.

 

 

 

 

Jerry Brown is Trying to Quash the People’s Ability to Fight Mega-Developers … For Him, It’s Personal!

By Jill Stewart : citywatchla – excerpt

VOX POP–A few years ago, then-state Sen. Alex Padilla implored us to embrace a fast-tracking plan that let wealthy developers rush huge mega-developments through the courts, getting around opponents by slashing the time they were given to fight back under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.

Padilla, who is now California Secretary of State, repeated at the time to KCRW’s Warren Olney what Gov. Jerry Brown and the majority Democrats in the legislature were saying in 2011: California’s then-12% unemployment rate justified the pushing aside of environmental damage concerns created by massive developments, to create jobs.

Asked what the rush was, given the possibility of environmentally questionable developments sailing through the courts, Padilla said, “The urgency is 99 percent driven by the unemployment rate that we have,” which had soared to 12%.

He went on to predict that a purportedly badly needed NFL stadium for Downtown Los Angeles would create some 20,000 jobs. It was a wild exaggeration in a time of desperate unemployment.

Fast forward to today. The California unemployment rate has plummeted, its urban areas are vibrant, and the absurd plan for a downtown NFL football stadium, squeezed onto insufficient land next to one of the most congested freeways in the world, died on the vine. The phony claims about “Farmer’s Field,” proved to be just that — downtown Los Angeles soon exploded in growth and jobs, sans the NFL stadium.

Now, Gov. Jerry Brown and some very sneaky California Democratic state legislators are trying to push through the 2.0 version of that end-run around our environmental protections. But because Brown and Co. no longer have horrible unemployment levels as an excuse for egregious environmental backsliding, they went with a hardball, last-minute, non-debated, surprise law as their strategy, Senate Bill 734.

It is opposed by the Sierra Club, the Judicial Council that administers California’s courts, the Planning and Conservation League, and my own organization, the Coalition to Preserve LA, which is aiming to place the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative on the March 2017 ballot to end developer control of Los Angeles City Hall.

SB 734 will allow wildly inappropriate private developments to breeze through the courts, such as the traffic-freezing “Crossroads of the World” mega-blob development, proposed next to badly jammed-up Highland Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, an area  now all but shut down for hours each day by overdevelopment and its endless, attendant, commuter traffic… (more)

Major Changes May Come to Bay Area Planning As MTC and ABAG Move Toward Merger

Michael Krasny : KQED – excerpt – (includes audio)

MTCvABAG

THE MERGER UNDER CONSIDERATION

http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201602180900

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) are responsible for housing and transportation planning for the Bay Area, including the controversial “Plan Bay Area” mandate. Now there’s talk of merging the two agencies, with a study underway on how that could be accomplished. But critics argue that the merger process lacks transparency, and that a consolidated agency will take decision-making out of the hands of local communities. We’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a potential merger.

Host: Michael Krasny

Guests:

  • Dave Cortese, chair, Metropolitan Transportation Commission; supervisor, District Three, Santa Clara County; former president of ABAG
  • Julie Pierce, president, Association of Bay Area Governments; council member for the city of Clayton
  • Egon Terplan, regional planning director, SPUR
  • Catharine Baker, assemblymember, 16th District (R) (Walnut Creek, Danville, Pleasanton), California State Assembly
  • Zelda Bronstein, Bay Area activist and journalist; former chair of Berkeley Planning Commission; writes for 48hills.org

More info:

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.

CEQA Roundup – The Good, Bad & Potentially Bad: What business thinks of reform bills

by Justin Ewers : caeconomy.org – excerpt

The CEQA reform debate was put largely aside this week as lawmakers work to finalize the state budget before next week’s deadline. The short breather provided an opportunity for a post-mortem on the legislative process so far—with one analysis by a group of land use attorneys offering an early glimpse of where business interests, in particular, are likely to seek changes in the months ahead. (More on that below.)

What CEQA proposals are still moving

Of the more than two dozen CEQA bills introduced this winter, only five made it out of their house of origin last week, meaning they could still become law this year.

Perhaps the biggest surprises were the stumbles of the most comprehensive CEQA changes backed by environmentalists, Asm. Ammiano’s AB 953 and Sen. Evans’s SB 617. Both bills contained the same proposal to address lingering legal uncertainty surrounding the recent Ballona decision, a legal change that is popular with some Dems—but particularly unpopular with the state Chamber of Commerce, which tagged both bills as “job killers.” It will be worth watching to see if the bill’s legal language makes its way into one of the five CEQA bills still moving.

The Land Use & Development Law Report offers a helpful roundup of the CEQA changes that are still on the table. Their summary:

Active CEQA bills:

  • SB 731, the “CEQA Modernization Act of 2013.″ (See CAeconomy‘s summary of what the bill does—and doesn’t do.)
  • AB 37, which would require lead agencies to prepare their records of proceedings at the same time they prepare environmental documents for certain projects
  • AB 543, which would require translation of certain CEQA notices and CEQA document summaries if 25% of nearby residents are non-English-speaking
  • AB 436 and AB 380, which would impose additional CEQA notice and filing requirements

CEQA bills that did not make the cut:

  • SB 787, the same far-reaching and controversial CEQA reform proposal that first surfaced in August 2012
  • Proposals for specialized divisions within superior courts to handle CEQA case
  • Efforts to overturn recent appellate court decisions [including Ballona] holding that CEQA concerns the effects of projects on the environment—not effects of the environment on projects
  • Three bills, or portions of those bills, that would have extended the 2011 Environmental Leadership Act’s CEQA streamlining provisions to additional categories of projects

Where business may push back (more)

 

 

CEQA Roundup: Faced with budget uncertainty (again), how much can Steinberg do?

by Justin Ewers : caeconomy.org – excerpt

The state budget continued to muscle CEQA off the political stage this week, with the governor announcing a less-rosy fiscal forecast than many had expected—and the lukewarm response from Democrats offering a glimpse at just how much CEQA reform’s foremost champion, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, currently has on his plate.
Only a few days after wading back into the state’s complex water issues, Steinberg also led Democratic lawmakers’ pushback against the governor’s top budget priority—a new funding formula for schools—along with an array of other proposals affecting everything from the courts to health and human services.
“There’s a disappointing aspect to [the governor’s budget],” Steinberg said, voicing concern among Democrats that the state isn’t doing enough to restore cuts made during the recession. “The budget debate [now] begins in earnest,” Steinberg warned. (That conversation has become even more heated after the LAO’s released its analysis of the state’s fiscal situation today.)
With CEQA reform also waiting in the wings (a task so politically complicated Steinberg has jokingly said his legislation could be called the “How to Make No Friends Act”), it does beg the question: How much can one man do?

CEQA to the back burner?…

Regions push for change

At a recent forum in San Francisco, a group of economic development experts agreed that without making changes to CEQA, regions like the Bay Area simply cannot address one of their most pressing needs: Rebuilding the state’s crumbling infrastructure…

“I would say CEQA is part of our state infrastructure deficit,” said Steve Heminger, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area’s regional transportation planning and finance agency… (more)

Nothing San Francisco and SPUR have done in recent years has added affordable housing and nothing they have planned will add any. Everything they do drives land values and rents, and mortgages higher.