The Land Use Report

Bridge Building

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Friday, October 24, 2014

SCCRTC

SCCRTC

In Santa Cruz County, the Regional Transportation Commission, or RTC, has put a 32-mile rail corridor into public ownership. The Proposition 116 funds used to buy the corridor were restricted for use on passenger rail projects. The rail line is expected to increase current and future transportation options, including its potential for both passenger and freight rail service. In addition to this rail service, the RTC is expecting both a bicycle and pedestrian path to be constructed in the corridor adjacent to the tracks.

Most recently, work on the largest bridge along the rail line, the La Selva Beach Trestle, is now underway. If you go online at kusp.org/landuse, you can see a picture. I think interested persons are going to enjoy watching this bridge building activity as it progresses. Construction began in late August, and demolition of the old bridge has now been accomplished, using cranes that are currently on site. Crews have begun pouring concrete to form anchors to the existing footings. Fabrication of the new bridge has been completed in Arizona, and the new pieces of the bridge are expected to begin arriving in the next couple of weeks. Local carpenters, masons and other workers have been hired to work on the bridge, and will construct it locally.

As I say, why not make a trip out to the site, and see progress being made on our newest piece of transportation infrastructure!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

RTC Website on La Selva Trestle Construction

Strategic Growth Council Webcast

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

State of California

State of California

Affordable housing and sustainable communities; that sounds good to me! As listeners may remember, the State of California is trying to incentivize better planning, and to stimulate the creation of more sustainable communities throughout the state. While I tend to think that specific directives, rather than indirect incentives, might be the best route to the goal, many other states aren’t really doing anything to achieve fundamental shifts in the destructive patterns of land use that result in sprawl, loss of agricultural lands, wasted energy and wasted time. California’s sustainable communities program is at least attempting to grapple with the beast of a bad land use paradigm. Also on the positive side, California recognizes that “sustainable communities” must incorporate ample amounts of affordable housing.

If you think that affordable housing and sustainable communities are something worth fighting for, and would like to get involved, please track down today’s transcript at kusp.org/landuse. I have links to a draft set of affordable housing and sustainable communities guidelines, and also a link that will let you register for a free, and participatory, webcast on this topic. The webcast is on October 27th, so plan ahead. Comments on the Guidelines are due by October 31st.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Strategic Growth Council Website

Draft Guidelines

Webcast Signup Page

Heads Up – Next Week At The PC

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Monterey County

Monterey County

I always feel a little bit bad when I use the Land Use Report to announce an important meeting that I think listeners would enjoy attending, and then give listeners something like thirty minutes to get there. I did do that yesterday morning, in announcing a couple of interesting presentations scheduled before the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. A lot of times it’s simply unavoidable, given when these reports are recorded, and when the public agency schedules are available. Trying to make up for yesterday, I am giving you a week’s notice, today, of a Monterey County Planning Commission meeting scheduled for next Wednesday, October 29th.

There are a number of interesting items on the agenda, and I have placed a link to the County’s website for the Planning Commission agendas in today’s transcript, so you can track down all the details once the County has posted the documents online. Specifically, the Commission is going to consider adding an historic resources designation to a property in Carmel; the Commission will decide an appeal of a design approval for a detached garage, and will determine whether or not to allow three new lots in Pebble Beach. Most significantly, the Commission is going to consider a major new subdivision (commonly known as the Ferrini Ranch development) along Highway 68 near Toro Park. That proposal is one worth marking your calendars for! Interested residents should be planning to attend this important meeting!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Monterey County Planning Commission Agendas

Polls And Taxes

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Somers Connecticut

Somers Connecticut

Agenda Item #32 on today’s Agenda of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors might be an item of interest. Actually, Agenda Item #31 could be pretty interesting, too, so let me start with that one. Agenda Item #31 will be an in-person report from Assembly Member Mark Stone. Assembly Member Stone represents residents in both Santa Cruz and Monterey County, and has been an active and pretty effective legislator, and this last year in the Legislature has seen some really important changes in state law. You might think plastic bags, or you might think groundwater management. There is some new legislation in the social services area, too. Come on down to the County Government Center at 9:00 o’clock this morning to get a comprehensive briefing.

Immediately following Assembly Member Stone’s presentation will be an in-person presentation by pollster Gene Bregman, who was commissioned by the Board of Supervisors to conduct a survey of 400 registered voters, to analyze voter support for various ways to finance and fund maintenance and improvement of the County’s roadways. Land use and transportation go together, and our transportation future is directly linked to our land use future, with the influences definitely going both ways. I suggest that this report on transportation funding possibilities (details not available until later this morning) will be of interest to many KUSP listeners.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Agenda

Agenda Item #32 – Board Report

Groundwater Legislation

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Environment Canada

Environment Canada

Tomorrow, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors will be convening in a “joint meeting” with the Board of Supervisors of the Monterey County Water Resources Agency and the Water Resources Agency Board of Directors. The membership of these officially separate agencies largely overlaps, with the five person Board of Supervisors being the core group. On the agenda tomorrow is a discussion of recently enacted groundwater legislation. Showing up at the Board Chambers tomorrow at 1:30 in the afternoon will be a good way to get some information about the important new water legislation that will be governing groundwater rights in California on into the future.

Three bills were signed by the Governor on September 16th: SB 1168 and SB 1319, both authored by Senator Fran Pavley, and AB 1739, authored by Assembly Member Roger Dickinson.

This new legislation allows certain local agencies to be designated as Groundwater Sustainability Agencies. Such agencies must, within certain time limits, adopt Groundwater Sustainability Plans. The legislation gives such agencies broad powers to implement the plans, but if local agencies fail to act, or if a Sustainability Plan is inadequate or is not being implemented to achieve the sustainability goal, the state has the ability to step in.

More Information
Land Use Links
Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog
Monterey County Board of Supervisors Agendas
Senate Bill 1168
Senate Bill 1319
Assembly Bill 1739

Sustainable Community Indicator Catalogue

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Friday, October 17, 2014

City of Windsor, CA

City of Windsor, CA

On October 7th, I alerted listeners to a webinar being presented that day by Susan Handy, Director of the National Center for Sustainable Transportation. Her talk was titled “The Science Behind Sustainable Communities Strategies.”

“Sustainable Communities” is a phrase that actually has a legal reference, in California. As part of California’s effort to address global warming, state law was modified to try to encourage land use planning that would reduce vehicle miles traveled, or VMT. The plans that are supposed to accomplish this goal are called “Sustainable Communities Strategies.”

Today, as a kind of follow-up, I am providing interested listeners with a link to a “Catalogue” of “Sustainable Community Indicators.” The Catalog helps communities identify indicators that can measure progress toward their sustainability objectives. The indicators focus on the relationships among land use, housing, transportation, human health, and the environment. The Catalogue was developed by a team of researchers, which evaluated over 100 community indicator initiatives across the United States. The team identified over 1,000 examples of indicators being used to measure community progress towards the Partnership for Sustainable Community’s Livability Principles.

You can check out this Catalogue by using the link in today’s transcript at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Website for the October 7th Webinar

The Sustainable Community Indicator Catalog

The MPRWA

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

MPRWA

MPRWA

California American Water Company, a profit-making corporation, delivers water to the Monterey Peninsula, and Cal-Am is not responsible to the voters or residents in any direct way. It is responsible to its shareholders in a direct way, so this means that “public service” is not necessarily the company’s highest priority. Regulatory controls to protect the public interest are imposed by the California Public Utilities Commission, an agency suspiciously susceptible to caving in to the very utility companies it is supposed to be regulating. You’ve probably seen the recent stories about how the chief assistant to the Chairperson of the PUC, and another PUC member, connived with PG&E to make sure that the administrative judge assigned to oversee a PG&E penalty case was deemed acceptable to PG&E.

Given this situation, it is understandable that public agencies, directly elected by local voters, should try to get some sort of public review authority over key water decisions. That is probably one reason that the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority was created by the cities on the Monterey Peninsula.

Recently, the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority asked Monterey County for a sizable monetary contribution. It seems unlikely that this is going to happen. You can read more about it at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

CVA Article on Monterey Peninsula Water Authority Funding Request

Monterey County Herald Article on Funding Request

That Water Supply Convention

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

City of Santa Cruz

City of Santa Cruz

If you are a resident or business owner in the City of Santa Cruz Water Service Area (and that includes the entirety of Live Oak and Pasatiempo and parts of Capitola, besides all areas within the City), then you may want to attend the Santa Cruz Water Supply Convention tomorrow. This “Convention” will run from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and will take place at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. Admission is free. At noon and at 6:00 p.m. you can hear one-minute presentations about various ideas that could help our community forge a sustainable water future. Then, you can visit the tables set up by the presenters, to get more in-depth information.

Santa Cruz Desal Alternatives will present various ideas, including how to use conservation pricing techniques to encourage us to conserve, and how to ensure that new development is “water neutral.” Other topics will also be addressed, including climate appropriate landscaping strategies for our region, and how to build onsite water storage systems. Possible ways to use “recycled water” for human consumption will be explored at the Convention, and new dams and desalination are also topics for discussion. Check kusp.org/landuse for links.

I encourage your participation in the Water Supply Convention tomorrow. The official title is “Our Water, Our Future.” That pretty much sums it up!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Official Water Supply Convention Website

Desal Alternatives Website

Convention Proposals From Desal Alternatives

1482 Freedom

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City of Watsonville

City of Watsonville

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The purpose of this Land Use Report is to get you interested in all sorts of issues that end up being called “land use” issues, from rooster noise to water policy, and from toll roads to housing.

Speaking of housing, a new housing project is being planned for 1482 Freedom Boulevard. Specifically, a five-story building is being proposed for that location, and the building would contain 80 affordable apartment units. State law has a number of provisions intended to stimulate and support affordable housing, and this proposed development would get the benefit of state law provisions that reduce parking requirements, allow for increased building heights, and decrease required setbacks from adjacent property. If approved, the new development would result in 80 units on 1.77 acres, which means a net density of 45 units per acre.

Is there water? Well, we know that the groundwater aquifer in the Pajaro Valley is in significant overdraft, so the truthful answer is “no.” Nobody is stopping new building though, in case you hadn’t noticed. And what about traffic? The County is proposing to do an Environmental Impact Report to find out about traffic and other impacts. There will be a public hearing tomorrow, at 6:30 p.m. in the Watsonville Civic Plaza Community Room A. Go to kusp.org/landuse for more information.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

For more information on the project contact Suzi Merriam at 831-768-3074

People Power And Public Works

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Monday, October 13, 2014

City of Santa Cruz

City of Santa Cruz

Most listeners undoubtedly realize that these Land Use Reports are prerecorded, and sometimes two weeks or even more in advance. Since that’s true, it is always wise to check out the information I provide, to see whether it is still accurate. Public agencies can and do change their agendas, and before you head down to a meeting I advertise, it’s always good to look online, to see whether what you think is going to happen is actually going to happen in fact.

Tomorrow, if predictions come true, the Santa Cruz City Council will be making a decision about whether or not to add bike lanes to Western Drive. People Power, a local bike-oriented community group, has been advocating for bike lanes on Western Drive for some time. They have been persuasive with the City’s Transportation and Public Works Commission, but neighbors are concerned about a possible loss of street parking, and there is no guarantee that the Council itself will agree with what the Commission recommended.

Western Drive provides a direct route between the far Westside and UCSC, and would connect locations in the City to mountain bike trails in the Upper Campus area. Western is recommended for bike lanes in the Santa Cruz Bicycle Transportation Plan, and was identified as a top priority for improvement in the 2013 Bicycle Transit Planning Report, a study of bicycle access to UCSC. Those street parking issues are real, though. If you care, think about attending the Council meeting tomorrow.

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

City Council Agenda Website

City Transportation and Public Works Commission

People Power Website

People Power Summer Newsletter (Including an article on Western Drive)

For more information, contact Amelia Conlin at director@peoplepowersc.org