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.
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.
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.
A comprehensive new plan for San Francisco’s natural areas could anger dog lovers, golfers and nature lovers in one swoop, while protecting delicate habitats and endangered species.
The plan — originally proposed in 2006 — will review the biology and geology of the Recreation and Park Department’s 32 natural areas and trails, including Twin Peaks, Bernal Heights and Mount Davidson. It will also outline maintenance and capital improvements within those areas for the next 20 years. The Recreation and Park Commission and the Planning Commission will vote on the document Thursday.
The biggest impacts that could come are changes in urban forestry management, the removal of off-leash dog areas in sensitive environmental areas and the rejiggering of Sharp Park’s golf course — changes with which the various groups will probably be unhappy… (more)
The public comments for on this EIR lasted for over 6 hours. This is major project that is highly controversial. Thousands or trees are planned for removal, that will release tons of carbon into the air. People anticipate a lot of herbicides will be used and that this will go into the ground water that is now being mixed into the drinking water. More details can come later. Comments welcome.
There is no money for any of this according to the proponents of the Natural Resources Plan. This is a big messy project that will get approved and then swept under the rug until someone comes up with money and the contract will be approved and then the public will hear about it. That is what happens with these large broad plans.
An August 5, 2013, the California Supreme Court provided some additional flexibility to local agencies in deciding what conditions properly constitute the “baseline” for analysis under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). The decision, Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority (“Neighbors”), Case No. S202828, narrowly upholds the environmental impact report (“EIR”) prepared for phase 2 of the Exposition Corridor Transit Project (“Expo Phase 2”) and strikes a middle ground among previous decisions regarding the use of various future baselines. The court ruled, among other things, that although an agency may, in very limited circumstances, evaluate project impacts on the basis of conditions anticipated to exist at the time of certification of an environmental impact report (“EIR”) for the project, or on a hypothetical longer-term future baseline, these cases remain the exception, rather than the rule. If using only a hypothetical future conditions and omitting existing conditions as a baseline, an agency must demonstrate that an analysis based on existing conditions “would detract from an EIR’s effectiveness as an informational document” by providing an uninformative or misleading analysis. In most cases, an agency must still evaluate the impacts of a project in comparison to existing conditions, though nothing prevents additional analysis of long-term impacts, particularly in the context of a cumulative analysis or a “no project” alternatives analysis… (more)
Use of future baselines not always acceptable in CEQA determinations.
The Court ruled for POET on every one of its substantive challenges, reversed the decision of the Superior Court affirming the LCFS, and ordered that ARB’s approval of the LCFS be set aside. The Court also ruled that ARB must, among other things, re-evaluate the LCFS’s overall environmental impacts, and allow public comment on several controversial issues including the carbon intensity values attributed to ethanol based on the theory of indirect land use change, which has been disputed and debunked by many in the scientific community…
The Court concluded that ARB violated CEQA by: (1) prematurely approving the LCFS regulations before completing the necessary environmental review, (2) splitting the authority for project approval from responsibility for completing environmental review, and (3) improperly deferring formulation of mitigation measures. As an initial matter, the Court confirmed that ARB’s actions were still subject to certain requirements of CEQA. The LCFS regulations were adopted under a certified regulatory program, which exempted ARB from the requirements for preparing initial studies, negative declaration, or environmental impact reports. Yet, ARB was still required to comply with other provisions of CEQA… (more)
A new draft of solar power policies for rural installations in East County is moving ahead with a supervisor’s direction to staff to prepare an environmental document for a general plan amendment.
Supervisor Scott Haggerty, chairman of the Alameda County Supervisors Board’s Transportation and Planning Committee, gave the direction to staff. The other committee member, Nate Miley, was absent. The five-member board places only two supervisors on each of its committees, so that there would be no three-member quorum of the full board when an issue comes to a vote…
Staff members will spend time discussing among themselves whether a full EIR or a negative declaration would be prepared. Then the environmental document will go through the same public process that the draft policy did, with stops at a public information and discussion meeting, the planning commission, the agricultural advisory commission, and finally the board of supervisors. The supervisors might not see it until spring, said planning director Albert Lopez.
The draft, in its current form, would allow construction of Solar Energy Facilitites (SEF) for exporting power from Valley agricultural land to the regional power grid on a case-by-case approval.
There would be a cap, yet to be determined, on how much of the county’s 3000 acres of “Important Farmland” could be used. A cap ranging between 500 and 1000 has been discussed.
The policy says that the county will give “highest priority” to the encouragement of urban solar development. Urban solar installations are usually placed on rooftops. They supply electricity to the property on which they are installed. People concerned about saving agricultural land from solar installations said it’s important to cut the electricity demand by encouraging urban solar installations… (more)
The battle lines are being drawn in the upcoming legislative fight over California’s environmental review laws.
More than a dozen environmental, labor and social justice groups announced Wednesday that they are joining forces to oppose an expected push to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act. Members pledged to fight “radical reforms that would limit public input into land use planning, threaten public health, and weaken environmental protections.”
The group, CEQA Works, includes the California League of Conservation Voters,Planning and Conservation League,Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club California, the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, State Building and Construction Trades Council, United Food & Commercial Workers and the League of Women Voters of California…
CEQA is expected to be a hot issue under the dome this year, as Democratic Sen. Michael Rubio, who chairs the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, and a coalition made up mostly of business interests and local governmentsrenew a push to update the law. An effort staged at the end of last session was canned amid pressure from Democratic legislators and environmental groups. This year, Rubio and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg are trying to reach an agreement on changes. The two staged a series of “working group” meetings with stakeholders after last year’s session ended… (more)
There has been much ado about the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and recently there have been articles about the need for significant changes to this 42 year old statute put into law by President Ronald Reagan. What is CEQA? It is a law that offers protection for the quality of life in California: natural resources including open space and clean air, water, and land, and gives the public the opportunity to participate in local land-use decisions.
Before legislative session ended, late August, there was a failed attempt to remove many key provisions, in other words to gut the bill. Environmental groups, democratic leadership and some unions said, let’s not do this and the pressure worked. It was stopped but with the promise that the issue would be readdressed in the new legislative session. http://www.examiner.com/article/california-environmental-quality-act-ceqa-fight-postponed-communities-on-alert.. (more)
Environmentalists and unions band together to fight CEQA changes
Environmentalists and labor unions are banding together to fight efforts to overhaul California’s landmark environmental law.
Organizers said the new coalition, made up of dozens of advocacy groups and dubbed “CEQA Works,” was formed to counter an aggressive campaign by business groups to make changes to the California Environmental Quality Act. While legislation has yet to be introduced, Gov. Jerry Brown has called on the Legislature to streamline the law to help speed the state’s economic recovery.
Environmentalists fear a repeat of last year, when lawmakers tried and failed to push through last-minute changes that activists said would have gutted CEQA.
“CEQA is the most foundational environmental law in California,” said Bruce Reznik, executive director of the Planning and Conservation League, one of the coalition’s founding members. “We decided we couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore and wait for bad things to happen.”… (more)