Housing & Land Use

Housing & Land Use

Senate Approves Limits on Superstores after San Diego Council Repealed Similar Regulations

Wal mart
The city of San Diego has been a key area in the debate over imposing strict regulations on big box retailers like Wal-Mart. In the past, when San Diego’s City Council voted to require superstores to conduct a study of how a new store would affect its surrounding neighborhood, Mayor Sanders vetoed such an ordinance. And while the council decided to override that veto, the council’s fight for tough regulations fizzled out when Wal-Mart spearheaded a campaign battle through the collection of signatures, which lead the council to repeal the ordinance due to concerns about covering a costly election. The heated debate over limiting the expansion of stores like Wal-Mart was then taken up at the Capitol with the introduction of a bill from Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego. In an update, the Senate has approved SB 469, which will require extensive economic analysis before selected superstores can open their doors. The Union Tribune reports:

“Sen. Juan Vargas, a San Diego Democrat carrying the measure, said communities are not armed with a complete set of facts when such stores attempt to move in. Vargas said his bill would not prohibit approval of such stores regardless of what an analysis reveals. ‘The bill says the locals get to make the decision,” Vargas said. “However, they will make an informed decision.’ The economic analysis would have to address the store’s impact on jobs, taxes, property values, traffic and government services, among other issues. Opponents of a similar ordinance in San Diego said the measure was a thinly veiled effort by organized labor and their supporters to ban those superstores by Walmart.”

The Senate voted 21-14 to approve the bill, with Republicans in firm opposition due to concerns that it is a de facto ban against one type of retailer and that it infringes on local control. Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, commented that “Let's let the communities decide what's best for them instead of us deciding for them.” Notably, the League of CA Cities has opposed the legislation. The bill will now move to the Assembly. If the bill does become law, a store like Wal-Mart would have to pay a city or a city contractor to conduct a report, and the findings of such a report/economic analysis would have to be reviewed by local government officials.

The Perfect Storm: Public Infrastructure Expert Outlines Consequences of Aging Network

The Los Angeles Division of the League of California Cities was pleased recently to welcome guest speaker Richard Little, the Director of the Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy at USC. Little informed attendees that when it comes to infrastructure finance, reinvestment is badly needed and the nation is on the verge of a perfect storm in funding civil infrastructure.

The Keston Institute actively addresses the economic policy, financial, demographic and other dimensions of public infrastructure development in California, in addition to undertaking research, outreach, and education activities to further understanding and awareness of present infrastructure challenges. The word “challenges” is fitting to describe the work and financing that the structures we all rely upon greatly need; in fact; Little argued that if the country is to restore infrastructure back to decent levels, the costs are in the trillions.

When it comes to actually paying for infrastructure, Little pointed out that we need to think about how we actually view it’s role; to be specific, is it a public good, a market commodity, or something in between? If taxes are chosen as the means to fund infrastructure, we can conclude it is seen as a public good, and if fees are used for funding, then it is seen as a commodity. In California, Little believes that ongoing projects relying on bond funds won’t be able to continue because current patterns are unsustainable barring tax increases or spending cuts, as he noted that we can’t bond our way out of our predicament.

While voters may understand that without tax increases services will be limited, there are undoubtedly plenty of stakeholders to satisfy when it comes to infrastructure projects, such as environmental concerns, and it is no easy feat to deal with conflicting demands. In detailing where financing can come from, Little listed options such as taxes (general or targeted), user fees, non-enterprise revenue streams, revenue from asset monetization, and leveraging public money with private capital for a public/private partnership (PPP). Little also mentioned the ample capital in pension fund investments as a way to finance revenue-backed projects, among other financing methods.

Little pointed out that it’s important to realize that public/private partnerships are merely a delivery method and that while entering into such an agreement can be advantageous, it’s vital to set clear goals and establish trust between entities. Also, transparency, fair competition, and appropriate value for the cost are among the concerns that PPPs raise. A lack of accountability and poor organizational culture can lead to great deficiencies in project management, resulting in inflated budgets if either public or private leadership is not held responsible.

Staying economically competitive depends on an efficient and functional infrastructure, but as it stands, our nation’s bridges, highways, and other systems are in steep decline—despite their maintenance being in our great interest. According to Little, the country’s avoidance of taxes and fees for infrastructure has created a lack of adequate revenue streams to renew our critical systems, and furthermore, how such revenues are created is not as important as just having revenues to begin with. However, the focus on having funds solely from a policy perspective does not seem to take into account the political capital required to raise such revenues, especially at a time of great fiscal hardship. Simply put, it’s easier said than done when anti-tax movements are increasingly vocal and voters don’t want to see their wallets get hit. It seems in the end that if paying to address our infrastructure problems is avoided, the nation will pay in other ways, namely greater economic decline, among the other consequences of an aging infrastructure network.

Road Rage: Riverside-SBDO Area Ranked 5th in Nation for Pedestrian Danger; Study on Metro Areas

RoadRage
Maybe it’s the influx of retirees roaming in their Cadillacs, but the state of Florida has the top four most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians, according to a new nationwide study from the Transportation for America, a Washington-based coalition of private organizations and local governments that lobbies for transportation spending. But metro areas in California don’t get off easy either when it comes to the organization’s rankings. Coming fifth for pedestrian danger in the nation is the Riverside-San Bernardino area of Southern California. Perhaps one of the more alarming findings of the study is that Latinos and African-Americans are about 50 percent more likely to be a pedestrian injury or death victim. This stat reflects a trend across the nation. When it comes to states’ overall rankings, the Golden State takes the 16th position as the most dangerous state for pedestrians.

Here are how major metro areas in California rank, according to the study:
5. Riverside-San Bernardino
21. Sacramento
27. Los Angeles-Long Beach
28. San Diego-Carlsbad
30. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara
41. San Francisco-Oakland

The organization that conducted the study pushes for more funding to improve design and safety precautions in metro areas so that fewer pedestrians in America are killed or injured. Some other major highlights from the report include the following:

  • 6,957 pedestrians were killed in California between 2000 and 2009
  • 67 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occurred on roads that are eligible to receive federal funding for construction or improvement, with federal guidelines or oversight for their design.
  • Nearly 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities from 2000 to 2009 occurred on roads with speed limits of 40 mph or greater. Pedestrians have only a 15 percent chance of surviving a collision with a car traveling 40 mph.
  • In California between 2000 and 2007, the average pedestrian death rate for Hispanics was 3.1 per 100,000 people, a rate 97 percent higher than the 1.6 rate for non-Hispanic whites.
  • Nationwide, 3,880pedestrians 15 years and younger were killed between 2000 and 2007. 526 of those killed were in California.

The report emphasizes that many pedestrian injuries and deaths — as well as those of motorists — are preventable with low-cost design features and retrofits. You can read the full study here.

The Perfect Storm: Public Infrastructure Expert Outlines Consequences of Aging Network

The Los Angeles Division of the League of California Cities was pleased recently to welcome guest speaker Richard Little, the Director of the Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy at USC. Little informed attendees that when it comes to infrastructure finance, reinvestment is badly needed and the nation is on the verge of a perfect storm in funding civil infrastructure.

The Keston Institute actively addresses the economic policy, financial, demographic and other dimensions of public infrastructure development in California, in addition to undertaking research, outreach, and education activities to further understanding and awareness of present infrastructure challenges. The word “challenges” is fitting to describe the work and financing that the structures we all rely upon greatly need; in fact; Little argued that if the country is to restore infrastructure back to decent levels, the costs are in the trillions.

When it comes to actually paying for infrastructure, Little pointed out that we need to think about how we actually view it’s role; to be specific, is it a public good, a market commodity, or something in between? If taxes are chosen as the means to fund infrastructure, we can conclude it is seen as a public good, and if fees are used for funding, then it is seen as a commodity. In California, Little believes that ongoing projects relying on bond funds won’t be able to continue because current patterns are unsustainable barring tax increases or spending cuts, as he noted that we can’t bond our way out of our predicament.

While voters may understand that without tax increases services will be limited, there are undoubtedly plenty of stakeholders to satisfy when it comes to infrastructure projects, such as environmental concerns, and it is no easy feat to deal with conflicting demands. In detailing where financing can come from, Little listed options such as taxes (general or targeted), user fees, non-enterprise revenue streams, revenue from asset monetization, and leveraging public money with private capital for a public/private partnership (PPP). Little also mentioned the ample capital in pension fund investments as a way to finance revenue-backed projects, among other financing methods.

Little pointed out that it’s important to realize that public/private partnerships are merely a delivery method and that while entering into such an agreement can be advantageous, it’s vital to set clear goals and establish trust between entities. Also, transparency, fair competition, and appropriate value for the cost are among the concerns that PPPs raise. A lack of accountability and poor organizational culture can lead to great deficiencies in project management, resulting in inflated budgets if either public or private leadership is not held responsible.

Staying economically competitive depends on an efficient and functional infrastructure, but as it stands, our nation’s bridges, highways, and other systems are in steep decline—despite their maintenance being in our great interest. According to Little, the country’s avoidance of taxes and fees for infrastructure has created a lack of adequate revenue streams to renew our critical systems, and furthermore, how such revenues are created is not as important as just having revenues to begin with. However, the focus on having funds solely from a policy perspective does not seem to take into account the political capital required to raise such revenues, especially at a time of great fiscal hardship. Simply put, it’s easier said than done when anti-tax movements are increasingly vocal and voters don’t want to see their wallets get hit. It seems in the end that if paying to address our infrastructure problems is avoided, the nation will pay in other ways, namely greater economic decline, among the other consequences of an aging infrastructure network.

Road Rage: Riverside-SBDO Area Ranked 5th in Nation for Pedestrian Danger; Study on Metro Areas

RoadRage
Maybe it’s the influx of retirees roaming in their Cadillacs, but the state of Florida has the top four most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians, according to a new nationwide study from the Transportation for America, a Washington-based coalition of private organizations and local governments that lobbies for transportation spending. But metro areas in California don’t get off easy either when it comes to the organization’s rankings. Coming fifth for pedestrian danger in the nation is the Riverside-San Bernardino area of Southern California. Perhaps one of the more alarming findings of the study is that Latinos and African-Americans are about 50 percent more likely to be a pedestrian injury or death victim. This stat reflects a trend across the nation. When it comes to states’ overall rankings, the Golden State takes the 16th position as the most dangerous state for pedestrians.

Here are how major metro areas in California rank, according to the study:
5. Riverside-San Bernardino
21. Sacramento
27. Los Angeles-Long Beach
28. San Diego-Carlsbad
30. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara
41. San Francisco-Oakland

The organization that conducted the study pushes for more funding to improve design and safety precautions in metro areas so that fewer pedestrians in America are killed or injured. Some other major highlights from the report include the following:

  • 6,957 pedestrians were killed in California between 2000 and 2009
  • 67 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occurred on roads that are eligible to receive federal funding for construction or improvement, with federal guidelines or oversight for their design.
  • Nearly 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities from 2000 to 2009 occurred on roads with speed limits of 40 mph or greater. Pedestrians have only a 15 percent chance of surviving a collision with a car traveling 40 mph.
  • In California between 2000 and 2007, the average pedestrian death rate for Hispanics was 3.1 per 100,000 people, a rate 97 percent higher than the 1.6 rate for non-Hispanic whites.
  • Nationwide, 3,880pedestrians 15 years and younger were killed between 2000 and 2007. 526 of those killed were in California.

The report emphasizes that many pedestrian injuries and deaths — as well as those of motorists — are preventable with low-cost design features and retrofits. You can read the full study here.

Isleton Pot Farm Deal Put Out to Pasture? Federal Legal Threats Scare off Developer

A city deal in which Delta Allied Growers would be allowed to construct a massive spread of greenhouses on the eastern edge of Isleton for the purposes of growing medical marijuana landed city officials in hot water recently when every manager and elected official in the town was subpoenaed by Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully. We relayed recently that the officials were forced to testify about the deal, and in an update, the potential grower is claiming the deal is now dead thanks to legal threats from the federal government. The head of Delta Allied Growers reportedly received a letter from U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner warning that the project would violate federal law.

Under the arrangement with Isleton, the city was slated to receive at least $25,000 a month if the deal went through. The attorney for Delta commented that “When the letter was received, we advised they shut it down and get out of town. So that's the end of it.” Even though the deal appears dead, the Chronicle reports officials have not given up:

“Developer Michael Brubeck has put his project on hold in the face of threats by federal prosecutors, who say they are going after large growing operations - but Isleton officials say they still consider the farm deal good. The City Council is planning to vote on an amendment Wednesday to waive the farmer's fees until the heat from federal prosecutors and a related Sacramento County grand jury investigation dies down. ‘We still want to go ahead with this project, and we are going to do what we can to keep it going,’ City Councilman Mike Gomez said Thursday. ‘It's not dead.’”

Over the next few weeks, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office is slated to continue investigating Isleton officials over the details of the deal, despite the insistence of officials that no wrongdoing was committed.

Isleton Pot Farm Deal Put Out to Pasture? Federal Legal Threats Scare off Developer

A city deal in which Delta Allied Growers would be allowed to construct a massive spread of greenhouses on the eastern edge of Isleton for the purposes of growing medical marijuana landed city officials in hot water recently when every manager and elected official in the town was subpoenaed by Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully. We relayed recently that the officials were forced to testify about the deal, and in an update, the potential grower is claiming the deal is now dead thanks to legal threats from the federal government. The head of Delta Allied Growers reportedly received a letter from U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner warning that the project would violate federal law.

Under the arrangement with Isleton, the city was slated to receive at least $25,000 a month if the deal went through. The attorney for Delta commented that “When the letter was received, we advised they shut it down and get out of town. So that's the end of it.” Even though the deal appears dead, the Chronicle reports officials have not given up:

“Developer Michael Brubeck has put his project on hold in the face of threats by federal prosecutors, who say they are going after large growing operations - but Isleton officials say they still consider the farm deal good. The City Council is planning to vote on an amendment Wednesday to waive the farmer's fees until the heat from federal prosecutors and a related Sacramento County grand jury investigation dies down. ‘We still want to go ahead with this project, and we are going to do what we can to keep it going,’ City Councilman Mike Gomez said Thursday. ‘It's not dead.’”

Over the next few weeks, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office is slated to continue investigating Isleton officials over the details of the deal, despite the insistence of officials that no wrongdoing was committed.

Amended Realignment Bill Eases Locals’ Financial Burden Prior to Prison Transfers

An amended budget bill is set to go before the governor that would lower the amount that local governments have to pony up in order to tap into state jail-construction money. Originally, under the terms of AB 94, counties would have had to shell out 25 percent of a jail’s costs, but now jail financing can be arranged at 10 percent of the overall cost. The ease in financing is to ensure that local governments can take on extra prisoners as part of the governor’s realignment plans, which will send some state offenders to local facilities. Each county will be capped at accessing $100 million. It is expected that around 40,000 state inmates will be shifted to the control of local governments, and jail financing is sure to be vital for providing extra capacity when one takes into account that many prisons are already overcrowded. The Press Enterprise reports the following on the funding:

“The money is part of $1.2 billion in jail financing the Legislature approved in 2007. It would help build new county jail beds as the governor seeks to shift several state responsibilities to counties, including oversight of some lower-level convicts and parolees. Supporters say counties need more money to handle so many new inmates but are struggling to come up with the matching money as their economic fortunes have fallen amid the recession. Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Sherman Oaks, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, called the legislation a technical clean-up bill. About half the funding from the 2007 bill, AB900, has been awarded to 11 counties that agreed to match a quarter of the cost. Those counties cannot reapply for the 10 percent rate if they have spent any of the money.”

San Bernardino County is one of the counties that originally applied to receive $83 million in funding from the 2007 bill. However, officials in San Bernardino are upset that the newest bill won't refund the county the difference between a 25 percent match and a 10 percent match, which amounts to about $16 million. Read more here.

Cancel the Moving Truck: Anaheim Left in the Cold as Kings to Remain in Sacramento

It appears the drama over the relocation of the Sacramento Kings and Anaheim vs. Sacramento has come to a close....for now. On Monday, the owners of the NBA team announced that they would keep the Kings in the city of Sacramento. Reportedly the NBA also was against the move. Orange County billionaire Henry Samueli was the financial backbone for the potential move to Anaheim, but the Maloofs indicated they wanted to give Sacramento one more chance. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has been busy securing $10 million in sponsorship and interest in building a new arena for the team.

The Maloof brothers, the owners of the team, have released the following statement:

“Out of respect to Kings fans and the regional business community, we have decided to remain in Sacramento for the 2011-12 season. The fans' spirit and energy, specifically our season ticket holders, has been remarkable and we are truly thankful for their loyalty. We also are greatly appreciative of the support from our corporate sponsors as well as other local businesses that have come forward in recent weeks.
 
Additionally, we would like to take this opportunity to send a heartfelt thank you to the loyal and hardworking team members within our organization. From the game night staff to the front office, coaches, and players, we are grateful for their professionalism and devotion.
 
During this process, Mayor Johnson has strongly indicated to both the community and the NBA that he is capable of getting the support to build a state-of-the-art entertainment and sports facility that the Sacramento Region and the tremendous Kings fans so rightly deserve. We look forward to seeing Mayor Johnson bring his vision to reality. However, if an arena plan cannot be finalized in a timely fashion, the NBA's relocation committee has assured Maloof Sports and Entertainment that it will support an application to move the franchise to another market starting in 2012-13."

Michael Schulman, chairman of Anaheim Arena Management, said the following in a statement:

“Since we began working toward bringing an NBA franchise to Orange County, we have maintained that this process is about getting a team for the fans, as basketball is a sport loved by Southern Californians. With the nation's second most populous region, one which serves as home to nearly the same number of people as the entire state of Texas, we are continuing our pursuit of an NBA team for our venue.”

Amended Realignment Bill Eases Locals’ Financial Burden Prior to Prison Transfers

An amended budget bill is set to go before the governor that would lower the amount that local governments have to pony up in order to tap into state jail-construction money. Originally, under the terms of AB 94, counties would have had to shell out 25 percent of a jail’s costs, but now jail financing can be arranged at 10 percent of the overall cost. The ease in financing is to ensure that local governments can take on extra prisoners as part of the governor’s realignment plans, which will send some state offenders to local facilities. Each county will be capped at accessing $100 million. It is expected that around 40,000 state inmates will be shifted to the control of local governments, and jail financing is sure to be vital for providing extra capacity when one takes into account that many prisons are already overcrowded. The Press Enterprise reports the following on the funding:

“The money is part of $1.2 billion in jail financing the Legislature approved in 2007. It would help build new county jail beds as the governor seeks to shift several state responsibilities to counties, including oversight of some lower-level convicts and parolees. Supporters say counties need more money to handle so many new inmates but are struggling to come up with the matching money as their economic fortunes have fallen amid the recession. Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Sherman Oaks, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, called the legislation a technical clean-up bill. About half the funding from the 2007 bill, AB900, has been awarded to 11 counties that agreed to match a quarter of the cost. Those counties cannot reapply for the 10 percent rate if they have spent any of the money.”

San Bernardino County is one of the counties that originally applied to receive $83 million in funding from the 2007 bill. However, officials in San Bernardino are upset that the newest bill won't refund the county the difference between a 25 percent match and a 10 percent match, which amounts to about $16 million. Read more here.

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