The Land Use Report

Learn To Map At MPC

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Friday, January 30, 2015

CCJDC

CCJDC

Once in a while I present items here on the Land Use Report that are mostly of interest to land use “professionals.” My main objective in presenting the Land Use Report, of course, is not to speak to “professionals,” but to stimulate more general public engagement in land use issues of various kinds. Land use policy and project decisions have a big impact on our future, and you don’t have to be a “professional” to understand what’s going on, and to make a real difference with respect to local government land use decisions.

But let’s not discount the role that “professionals” play. Planners, consultants, lawyers, and others are engaged in land use policy and project matters as their “job.” Particularly when we think of local government planning staff, we all have a stake in making sure that planning professionals are well educated and up to date on the latest information in their field.

To that end, let me alert planning “professionals,” and others in the audience, that the Central Coast Joint Data Committee is promoting a course at Monterey Peninsula College. A link to information about the course on can be found at kusp.org/landuse. The course is called “GIS, GPS and Cartography,” and it’s being offered during Spring Quarter. Who knows, maybe even some “non-professional” listeners might be interested in learning how to do sophisticated mapping using modern technology!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Course Description and Registration

Central Coast Joint Data Committee

Monterey Peninsula College

MPC Course Catalogue

Course Information – OCEN 10

Voting To Go Into A Closed Session

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

League of Cities

League of Cities

I follow local government and land use issues around the Monterey Bay, but I also pay attention to what is going on elsewhere. Today, let me report on a rule recently adopted by the Palo Alto City Council. I think that the Palo Alto City Council has a good idea. Residents in the Monterey Bay Region might want to ask their own elected representatives to adopt a similar rule.

As listeners probably know, the Ralph M. Brown Act requires that all local government decision making take place in public. That requirement is critically important, if we want citizens to know what their government is actually doing. The Brown Act, however, does have some exceptions, and Boards and Councils are allowed to go into “closed sessions,” where the public is excluded, to address litigation, property negotiations, and personnel matters. A listing of what will be discussed is placed on the agenda for the public to see

Just because local governments “may” go into closed sessions, however, doesn’t mean that they have to, or even that they should. In Palo Alto, a new rule requires an official vote of the Council before the Council goes into a closed session. That means that a decision to exclude the public is, itself, a matter for public discussion and decision. It’s not taken for granted.

Check out the link in today’s Land Use Report blog, at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Ralph M. Brown Act

League of Cities Guide to the Brown Act

Palo Alto Online – Article on New Closed Session Rules

TAMC Awards / Cell Tower Regulations

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wikipedia.org

Wikipedia.org

The Transportation Agency For Monterey County is scheduled to meet this morning. TAMC, as it is best known, will be meeting in the Agricultural Center Conference Room, located at 1428 Abbott Street in Salinas. On the agenda will be a ceremony, at 9:30, recognizing the Monterey County Mobility Coalition, which will be receiving TAMC’s 2015 Transportation Excellence Award. LandWatch Monterey County, which obviously focuses on land use issues, was part of that Mobility Coalition. That is another demonstration, I think, of how closely transportation and land use issues are intertwined.

This evening, I have another meeting to recommend. The City of Watsonville is sponsoring a free event to inform residents and other interested persons about the regulations that govern cell towers. Cell towers are often controversial, and local governments have the right to say “yes” or “no” to applications to build cell towers. Local government powers are limited by regulations issued by the Federal Communications Commission (or FCC), but it’s not true, as some people think, that local governments don’t have any powers at all. If you want to learn more about cell tower regulations, the meting this evening is from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., on the fourth floor of the Watsonville Civic Plaza, in Community Rooms A and B. I think this will be an informative meeting.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

TAMC Website

Assessing Our Water Supply Options

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sierra Club.org

Sierra Club.org

The City of Santa Cruz City Council meets this afternoon and this evening. Customers of the City’s Water Department might want to check out the agenda, and many of these customers live outside City limits. If you live in Pasatiempo, or Live Oak, or even in parts of the City of Capitola, you get your water from the City of Santa Cruz. Out of City customers can’t vote on the people who make the decisions, but they are bound by the decisions nonetheless

Tomorrow, at 7:00 p.m., after a public hearing on increased garbage collection fees (those are called “resource recovery” fees, nowadays), the Council is going to receive a report from its Water Supply Advisory Committee. This group was set up by the Council to reassess the City’s plans about how best to provide a reliable and adequate water supply, going forward. In setting up this advisory group, the Council specifically said it wanted to “reset” the discussion about future water supply options, since the one and only plan that had been pursued by the City Water Department was a proposed desalination project, a project that was hugely costly, environmentally damaging, and fiercely opposed by many in the community.

Today’s blog has a link to a 164-page report on water supply options. You can find that link at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Santa Cruz City Council Agenda – January 27, 2015

WSAC Phase #1 Report

Planning Items Coming Up Tomorrow

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Monday, January 26, 2015

MCVRA.org

MCVRA.org

Boards of Supervisors meet on Tuesdays. I have checked the agendas of both the Monterey County and the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, and I can report that tomorrow there are land use items on both agendas. Not too much is happening in Monterey County, but there is going to be a hearing on traffic volumes on Carmel Valley Road. Lots of people care about that.

In Santa Cruz County, the Board will be taking action on a number of land use issues. Agenda Item #47 is about vacation rentals. Again, the discussion tomorrow is taking place before the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. Vacation rentals are an important issue on both sides of the Bay. Item #48 is a hearing on proposed changes to the County’s affordable housing rules. The hearing is scheduled, and you can talk, but the County Administrative Officer wants the Board to delay any action until February 10th. Affordable housing advocates are afraid that the County might scrap the requirement that affordable housing actually be built, as market rate units are developed.

At 1:30 tomorrow afternoon, the Board will discuss regulations governing the growing of medical marijuana. If you’d like to get a feeling for other topics, look through Consent Agenda Items #30 to #44. Lots of land use items appear on that Consent Agenda. Get links to the agendas at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Santa Cruz County Board Agenda – January 27, 2015

Monterey County Board Agenda Website

Agenda Item #47 – Vacation Rentals

Agenda Item #48 – Affordable Housing

Litigation And Land Use #3

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Friday, January 23, 2015

LandWatch.org

LandWatch.org

LandWatch Monterey County and the Highway 68 Coalition have filed lawsuits challenging the approval of the Ferrini Ranch development by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. As approved, the project would create 185 new homesites along Highway 68. Retiring Supervisor Lou Calcagno cast the deciding vote, in one of his last official decisions.

The lawsuits claim a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. CEQA doesn’t mandate any particular decision when a development project is considered, but it does require a fully adequate analysis of all of the impacts of a proposed project. That kind of analysis did not occur, according to LandWatch and the Highway 68 Coalition. In a non-CEQA challenge, LandWatch also charges that the development is in direct violation of General Plan requirements relating to proof of water.

The challengers will have the burden of proof, and the courts will “defer” to the Board’s decision, if there is “any” substantial evidence that the Board complied with the law. These lawsuits are not automatic winners. The County should be advised though, that if they do lose, the County may end up paying the attorneys’ fees of the challengers. Recent reports say that the County has to pay LandWatch over $400,000 in connection with an earlier lawsuit on the County General Plan.

More Information: 

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Gary Patton’s Blog on “Deference”

Planning Department Information on Ferrini Ranch

LandWatch Website

LandWatch Litigation on Ferrini Ranch

LandWatch Web Page on Ferrini Ranch

News Article on Ferrini Ranch

Monterey Bay Partisan on Ferrini Ranch Lawsuits

Litigation And Land Use #2

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

LandWatch.org

LandWatch.org

Good morning! This is Day Two of some remarks about litigation and land use. As I said yesterday, public participation, not litigation, is the best way to get the land use decisions you want. Promoting public participation, of course, is the “unhidden agenda” of the Land Use Report. Land use decisions have a big impact on our future, and becoming personally involved is your best way to have an impact on land use policy and project decisions.

That said, let’s not discount the importance of land use litigation. Litigation can play an incredibly important role in making sure that governmental land use decisions represent the public interest.

I decided to talk about litigation and land use when I found out that two different lawsuits have been filed, challenging the recent approval of the Ferrini Ranch development by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. Both LandWatch Monterey County and the Highway 68 Coalition have filed lawsuits against this development approval, but those who have been following the debate will remember that both groups have gone to court not as their first response to what they think is a bad project approval, but as a last resort.

That’s the right way to do it, and in fact, the courts actually require project opponents to have “exhausted their administrative remedies” before they come to court.

Tomorrow, I’ll comment on the claims made in the lawsuits.

More Information: 

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Gary Patton’s Blog on “Deference”

Planning Department Information on Ferrini Ranch

LandWatch Website

LandWatch Litigation on Ferrini Ranch

LandWatch Web Page on Ferrini Ranch

News Article on Ferrini Ranch

Monterey Bay Partisan on Ferrini Ranch Lawsuits

Litigation And Land Use

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

UCSC Legal Studies

UCSC Legal Studies

When not recording the Land Use Report, I am an environmental attorney (and I also teach in the Legal Studies Program at the University of California at Santa Cruz). Because I am an actively practicing lawyer, I suspect that many people might assume that I am an enthusiastic promoter of litigation, as the best way to address land use policy and project matters.

Actually, that’s not true! Today, tomorrow, and Friday I am going to make specific reference to recently concluded and recently initiated litigation in Monterey County, but I want to lead off with an observation that may be surprising to some listeners. Our system of government discourages the use of the courts to make important land use policy decisions. On any substantive issue, the courts are supposed to “defer” to the land use decisions of elected officials and governmental agencies if there is “any” substantial evidence that would uphold the decision made by the government.

Judges do NOT substitute their judgment for the judgment exercised by elected officials. Even if there is overwhelming evidence that a development would have adverse impacts, as an example, the courts will allow the development to go forward if there is “any” substantial evidence that would justify a decision in favor of the development.

Public participation, in other words, not litigation, is the best way to get the land use decisions you want!

More Information: 

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Gary Patton’s Blog on “Deference”

Tonight: Meet At The Grange

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Californiagrange.org

Californiagrange.org

Water supply planning is underway in the Soquel Creek Water District, and in the City of Santa Cruz. The Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency is also deeply engaged in planning and implementing measures to achieve a safe and sustainable future water supply. And let’s add the San Lorenzo Valley Water District and the Scotts Valley Water District. And of course most listeners will be aware of the kind of water supply planning going on in Monterey County. The State of California has stepped up, too, with a new law focused on water supply planning for groundwater resources.

Planning for future water supplies is a major governmental challenge, and the plans adopted and implemented around the Monterey Bay will have profound environmental and economic impacts. For those specifically affected by the plans of the City of Santa Cruz Water Department, be aware of a meeting scheduled for this evening, Tuesday, January 20th, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Live Oak Grange, located at 1900 17th Avenue.

Live Oak Neighbors and the Live Oak Grange are co-sponsoring this meeting, at which residents can learn about what the City of Santa Cruz Water Supply Advisory Committee is doing. Sue Holt, a member of that Committee, was specifically appointed to represent the Live Oak Area, and she will be there to engage Live Oak residents on the issues that will be directly affecting them.

More Information: 

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Information on the Live Oak Neighbors

Live Oak Grange Website

First District Goes Facebook

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Monday, January 19, 2015

John Leopold And Staff

John Leopold And Staff

Our representative form of government will work correctly only if we, the represented, are actually in contact with the officials we have chosen to represent us. Representative democracy is not solely, or maybe even best, characterized by the process of “voting.” On a holiday celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose accomplishments definitely include a major responsibility for enactment of the federal Voting Rights Act that helped enfranchise millions of black Americans, let me say that voting is necessary but not sufficient.

Actual, personal contact and communication with our elected officials is needed. The smaller the governmental unit, of course, the easier that is to accomplish. Because Santa Cruz County is the smallest county in the state, geographically, it is relatively easy to meet your County Supervisor. It’s a bit harder in the much larger Monterey County. We need to make the effort. And our elected officials need to reach out, too. Recently, Santa Cruz County First District Supervisor John Leopold announced a Facebook page, as a way of reaching out. Other Supervisors also have them. Check them out. That kind of digital contact is all to the good, but it’s not sufficient, either. Get in personal touch with your representatives. “Touch” means you could touch them. You might have to go to some meetings!

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

John Leopold’s Facebook Page

Leopold “Political” Website

Santa Cruz County First District Website

Santa Cruz County Websites For Other Districts

Bruce McPherson Facebook Page

Greg Caput Facebook Page

Zach Friend Facebook Page

Ryan Coonerty Facebook Page

Dave Potter Facebook Page

Jane Parker Facebook Page

Fernando Armenta Facebook Page

Simon Salinas Facebook Page