Northern News Dec. 2021-Jan. 2022

Northern News

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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

Making great communities happen

Northern Section news, views, and announcements

Planning news roundup

Assembled by Richard Davis, AICP Candidate, associate editor

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Contra Costa County tidal marsh restoration will be the largest of its kind in California. But it’s taking forever

By Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle, December 6, 2021. Tidal marshes are an excellent carbon sink and promote biodiversity, but a thorough permitting process is still required.

Appeals court rejects last legal challenge to California bullet train

By Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2021. The court affirmed the use of Proposition 1A bond funds for a blended system of high-speed and improved conventional rail.

An Oakland urban forester’s work reveals the plight of the city’s namesake

By Andres Picon, San Francisco Chronicle, November 25, 2021. Oak advocates say city and state leaders could do more to protect the trees and safeguard their status as a keystone species throughout California.

Los Altos Hills passes “urgency ordinance” to restrict SB9 applications — inviting legal challenge

By Alexei Koseff, San Francisco Chronicle, November 24, 2021. Mayor Kavita Tankha defended the rules, likely the first in the state, as accommodating residents’ desires to maintain their privacy, preserve open space, and reduce fire risk.

Skunk Train owner acquires Fort Bragg mill site, upending city plans

By Mary Callahan, The Press Democrat, November 24, 2021. The city had just pulled $3.5 million in bond funding to prove to the state that it was ready to tackle the site’s environmental needs on the site when word arrived that Georgia-Pacific had settled with Mendocino Railway.

Superior Court upholds Lafayette’s controversial 315-unit housing project

By Shomik Mukherjee, East Bay Times, November 20, 2021. Years after a citizen group forced the developer to submit scaled-down plans, changes in state law revived the original project with more affordable housing.

In first, Audubon Society sues a California wind project

By Amanda Barlett, SFGate, November 19, 2021. Alameda County’s approval of a new facility at Altamont Pass has been challenged as threat to Golden Eagles and other avian species.

Association of Bay Area Governments formally denies nearly all regional housing needs allocation appeals

By Daniel Maroon, Alexander Merritt, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP blog, November 18, 2021. The Administrative Committee signaled strong confidence in the draft RHNA plan prepared by ABAG’s Housing Methodology Committee.

‘A spectacular landscape’ — Vast Redwood Coast ranch to become public nature preserve

By Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, November 18, 2021. The property is central to the Wildlands Conservancy’s long-term goal of protecting and providing access to much of the Eel River.

California is being denied $12 billion in federal transit funds. Here’s how it’ll hurt the Bay Area

Ricardo Cano, San Francisco Chronicle, November 12, 2021. A Labor Department challenge to a 2013 public employee pension reform law could block billions for transit system improvements and service support.

Oakland, LA, piloting universal basic mobility

By Laura Bliss, CityLab, November 11, 2021. Will giving poorer households no- or low-cost access to efficient and sustainable transportation help them meet their potential in society?

Los Altos agrees to legal settlement over SB 35 project; developers still pursuing 5-story building

By Bruce Barton, Los Altos Town Crier, November 9, 2021. An incentive for a 4-story project linked with the settlement did not sway developers.

Wind promises new economic boom for Humboldt County

By Andrew Graham (editorial), Press Democrat, November 9, 2021. Previous investments in land, the current state budget, the new federal infrastructure bill, a deep water harbor with no bridge across it, and plenty of wind energy position Humboldt County for an energy future.

Two LA Assemblymembers block funds connecting High Speed Rail to Bay Area

By Roger Rudick, Streetsblog Cal, November 8, 2021. A political dispute over rail electrification prevents state matching funds required for further federal support.

“Save Livermore Downtown” group ordered to post $500,000 bond

By Joseph Geha, Bay Area News Group, November 8, 2021. A Superior Court judge ruled that “the preponderance of evidence supports the conclusion that the [lawsuit was] brought for the purpose of delaying the provision of affordable housing.”

One of Julia Morgan’s most famous works is open after sitting dormant for 30+ years

By Alissa Walker, Curbed, November 5, 2021. Morgan was the first woman to earn a civil engineering degree from UC Berkeley and the first woman licensed architect in California.

New California task force focused on housing laws

By Louis Hansen, Mercury News, November 4, 2021. It will consist of 12 lawyers and staff members with experience in land use and development, environmental law and civil rights.

New reports: Locations and factors favoring successful commercial to residential conversions

From UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation, November 1, 2021. One paper explores why commercial conversion potential in California is minimal absent policy changes, the other identifies a variety of specific factors that promote adaptive reuse.

Does the Bay Area have the water it needs to grow?

By Laura Feinstein and Anne Thebo, San Francisco Examiner, October 29, 2021. A new report suggests improved home plumbing and appliances, water-efficient landscaping, and greater private sector conservation efforts are necessary for growth.

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