Local News RoundUp
The Local News RoundUp is the League's twice-weekly news clipping service of articles related to California cities and local government.
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Feb. 4, 2016
Governor signs bill lifting deadline for marijuana cultivation ordinances imposed on local governments (League of California Cities)
Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed AB 21 (Wood), eliminating from state law the unintended March 1, 2016 deadline for cultivation ordinances imposed on local governments by last year’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act.
Jerry Brown signs law granting California cities’ say over medical pot regulation (The Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation removing a March 1 deadline for cities and counties to enact medical marijuana cultivation rules to avoid surrendering that authority to the state, a prospect that had disturbed city officials and medical cannabis advocates.
Long Beach medical marijuana ordinance tabled as city anticipates upcoming ballot measure (Long Beach Post)
Napa will revisit medical marijuana ordinance (Napa Valley Register)
Woodlake, Lindsay roll up prohibition (The Foothills Sun-Gazette)
New Milpitas law bans marijuana manufacturing, cultivation (Milpitas Post)
Proposed pot farm would yield 6,000 pounds a year (The Riverside Press-Enterprise)
In Desert Hot Springs, there’s plenty of land and sunshine. What’s missing is industry, along with the jobs and tax revenue those businesses bring. So city officials welcomed the announcement that CalCann Holdings planned to set up shop and build a greenhouse to grow some 6,000 pounds of organic medical cannabis each year.
WATER / DROUGHT
State refuses pleas for major weakening of water conservation rules (Contra Costa Times)
The State Water Resources Control Board voted for modest adjustments after a six-hour meeting. The rules will shave a few percentage points off the conservation requirements of some places -- particularly in hot areas like the Southern California desert and the Central Valley -- while leaving drought rules unchanged in most Bay Area cities, Los Angeles and San Diego through at least May.
Drought remains 'very serious' in California (Capital Public Radio)
The U.S. Drought Monitor says exceptional drought was reduced in one area of the northern Sierra this week, "despite heavy precipitation and rebounding stream flows in the short term the past few weeks."
Official: El Niño could signal easing of California drought (AP)
In the strongest indication yet that the California drought could be easing, officials said strict water conservation orders could be dramatically scaled back or even ended if El Niño storms keep pummeling the state into the spring.
Drought-weary eyes watch California's normal winter unfold (Bloomberg Business)
California is having a pretty normal winter, give or take a degree here and a bit of snow there. Since the entire state is abnormally dry or in drought, it’s been a while since that happened. The trouble is, normal might not last.
Predicting El Niño's flood risk: How new warning systems save lives, property (San Jose Mercury News)
Counting El Niño's raindrops in distant mountains, the new flood-protection systems are for the first time allowing the Bay Area to anticipate disasters, not merely respond to them.
Mosquitoes, Zika virus a concern for rain barrels used to store water during El Niño (The Whittier Daily News)
Rain barrels have become a popular way for Southern Californians to conserve water amid the state’s historic drought, but the rain collection devices have an unintended consequence: They’ve increased the number of breeding sources for mosquitos.
Lake Berryessa in need of more runoff this season (The Fairfield Daily Republic)
El Niño may be back, but Lake Berryessa has yet to net any significant results. The lake has gained about 75,000 acre feet of water since hitting a low mark of 816,273 acre feet in early December, but that’s only about 45 percent of the annual diversion that’s needed.
Klamath River dams moving toward removal despite congressional barriers (Los Angeles Times)
The states, the U.S. Interior Department and the owner of the dams, PacifiCorp, announced Tuesday that they have agreed in principle to pursue removal through the federal dam relicensing process.
Vidak, Salas call for more water storage projects (Visalia-Times Delta)
Assembly Bill 1649 urges Gov. Jerry Brown to push forward construction of water storage projects with the $7.12 billion bond approved by California residents in 2014.
Lemoore looks to treat water, remove chemicals (The Hanford Sentinel)
The city of Lemoore attempted to make its drinking water safe by adding chlorine, however another problem was created – trihalomethane. A solution is in the works, but it will cost water users an additional $31.80 per month for the next 30 years.
Lawsuit tests new SLO County water conservation ordinance (San Luis Obispo New Times)
A writ of mandate filed Jan. 25 is challenging a new water conservation ordinance that, among other things, regulates water use atop the ailing Paso Robles groundwater basin. It’s the third major legal protest in an ongoing battle dividing North County property owners.
EPA water standards OK'd for Malibu Creek (Courthouse News Service)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency water quality standards for a Southern California creek survived a legal challenge from a water district, which claimed the measures would cost $180 million to implement.
Encinitas hit by another ‘density bonus’ lawsuit (Encinitas Advocate)
As required under a previous lawsuit settlement, the Encinitas City Council in November passed a new density bonus ordinance that backed off on prior regulations. But David Meyer of Encinitas-based DCM Properties sued the city last week, maintaining its ordinance is still too restrictive and violates state law.
DA files criminal charges against SoCalGas over Porter Ranch leak as legal challenges mount (Los Angeles Daily News)
The Southern California Gas Co. came under increased legal fire as the state’s attorney general sued the utility over its still-spewing natural gas leak, L.A. County’s district attorney alleged it was too slow to notify authorities about it, and a local family claimed a 79-year-old woman’s death was hastened because of it.
State legislators call for drastic overhaul of California's utility regulator (Los Angeles Times)
State legislators are calling for a major overhaul of California's utilities regulator by striking it from the state Constitution and reassigning its sprawling portfolio in the wake of a series of controversies, including the natural gas leak in Aliso Canyon. Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) said his measure would decentralize the California Public Utilities Commission's oversight of myriad utilities, including electricity, railroad safety and ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft.
Audio: Communities divided on crude-by-rail proposals (The California Report)
A statewide conflict over whether to allow more trains carrying crude oil into California is coming to a head. Starting today, two communities are set to make decisions that would have broad implications for the future of this type of import in densely populated areas.
LABOR / PENSIONS
U.S. public pensions post worst returns since market crash (Bloomberg Business)
U.S. state and city pensions posted the lowest investment returns since the credit crisis, falling far short of targets the funds count on and raising the specter of growing taxpayer contributions to keep them afloat.
Quake early warning system could save lives. But it's stalled over money dispute (Los Angeles Times)
When a magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit Napa in 2014, an earthquake alert system gave researchers in San Francisco about eight seconds of warning before the shaking began. Just last month, 30 seconds of warning reached downtown L.A. before the ground shook from a magnitude 4.4 quake centered near Banning. Despite these successes, the early warning network is stymied by a lack of funding that has delayed full rollout of the system.
ENERGY & SUSTAINABILITY
Los Gatos: Town will join energy choice partnership (Community Newspapers)
The town of Los Gatos will be joining the Silicon Valley Community Choice partnership that's being formed to buy clean energy on behalf of local residents and businesses.
Solano County area home prices still rising (Vallejo Times-Herald)
In the Vallejo-Fairfield area, home prices, including distressed sales, increased 7.7 percent in December compared with a year ago and by 1.2 percent compared to November, CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index shows.
American Canyon passes new fees for affordable housing (Napa Valley Register)
Housing developers would pay either $3.00 or $3.50 per square foot for every new home or apartment they build in the city. The fee for commercial developers would range from 50 cents (for warehouses or food/wine production) to 75 cents per square foot (for offices, hotels or retail businesses).
HOMELESSNESS / POVERTY
Homeless advocates face off with cops at Super Bowl City (San Francisco Chronicle)
There were no arrests but there was also no camping. Protesters were told their tents would be confiscated if they put them on the ground and tried to crawl inside. So they held the tents aloft, like giant protest signs.
New homeless housing policy leads to tough choices (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Solutions for Change is one of several homeless agencies in the region working to respond to a new federal policy called Housing First that focuses on getting people into permanent homes with no strings attached.
Manteca, other communities see increase in encampments (Manteca Bulletin)
City officials from Modesto to Stockton as well as Caltrans report an upswing in homeless encampments. It reflects similar trends in the Bay Area as well.
CITY PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT
Video: Apple's unfinished spaceship campus looks enormous (The Verge)
Apple's new headquarters has been in the works for close to a decade, and in recent months it's finally been starting to come together. It's an enormous project, and you can really get a sense for just how huge it is thanks to new drone footage published to YouTube.
Specific Plan could transform Downtown Oakland (Oakland North)
The 980 Freeway running through West Oakland is a "great gash" that was originally built to connect with a second Bay Bridge that never arrived, city planning consultant Victor Dover said Monday night at a public meeting to discuss Downtown Oakland's Specific Plan. Dover's proposal: tear down 980 and replace it with a grand boulevard for walkers, cyclists and cars.
Oakland Auto Row plans calls for 400 units in 19-story highrise (San Francisco Business Times)
A Vancouver, Wash.-based development group is moving forward with the first highrise residential project proposed in Oakland's busy Broadway-Valdez District, the city's Auto Row that is transforming into new housing and retail.
Developer unveils vision for ‘hole in the ground’ in downtown Sacramento (The Sacramento Bee)
Nearly a decade after construction was halted on a pair of 53-story condo towers, Los Angeles developer CIM Group unveiled conceptual drawings of a single 420-foot building that could revive the drab western end of Capitol Mall.
Two projects stopped cold under council's new General Plan authorization system (Cupertino Courier)
A Feb. 2 public hearing was the first time the council tried out its new system for reviewing projects whose applicants are seeking General Plan amendments before developers begin working with city staff.
As schools feel S.F. housing crunch, arts college proposes 600 beds (San Francisco Business Times)
The California College of the Arts has filed preliminary plans to build 600 beds for students next to its San Francisco campus as local schools struggle to accommodate surging demand for housing.
MUNICIPAL FINANCE / REVENUE & TAXATION
Norco: $500,000 settles IRS audit over Silverlakes bonds (The Riverside Press-Enterprise)
Norco city officials have agreed to a $500,000 settlement with the Internal Revenue Service following an audit of the city’s use of water and sewer bonds to finance infrastructure improvements at Silverlakes.
LAND USE / ANNEXATION
City may expand north into the hills (The Riverside Press-Enterprise)
Moreno Valley leaders are considering annexing a large area of rolling hills to the north that is more than a third of the city’s 50 square miles.
Hundreds gather to discuss potential casino project (The Galt Herald)
Galt City Attorney Steve Rudolph questioned why the Wilton Rancheria wants to take 282 acres of farmland north of Galt into trust when the tribe’s proposed casino complex would only require 76 acres.
Arcadia to Sierra Madre: Sorry, we can’t help fill police department void (The Pasadena Star-News)
Nine of the Sierra Madre Police Department’s 20 full-time officers have left in the past several months, some for better pay and job security as the city could face a $1 million budget deficit come July.
L.A. is America's deadliest place for walking (LA Weekly)
Three out of the six worst counties in the nation for pedestrians are in Southern California.
SDPD: Crime up, but no ‘panic’ (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
“We’re still at historically low crime levels,” said Lt. Scott Wahl, San Diego Police Department spokesman. “The largest increase was in thefts, and much of that was by opportunity, such as breaking into cars and shoplifting.”
JOBS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Aluminum plant's status unclear (Barstow Desert Dispatch)
City officials say they have not heard from the president of the Mojave Aluminum Company since September. Shen proposed almost a year ago to build a $120 million, 500,000-square-foot aluminum remelt and casting house plant. Shen said the plant would employ up to 450 people.
TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
City of Santa Monica and aviators back before FAA in fight for control of city airport (Santa Monica Lookout)
City officials have filed an appeal of a Dec. 4 ruling by the FAA that determined the City of Santa Monica must continue operating the historic Santa Monica Airport as a location for aviation at least through 2023.
Novato approves downtown station (Marinscope)
Business owners and others who celebrate Novato’s quaint downtown scene were thrilled last week with the announcement the city will moved forward with a $2.4 million phased construction plan for a third SMART train station.
Victorville still all aboard on high-speed rail (Victorville Daily Press)
The City Council agreed to terminate its master development agreement with proposed high-speed rail operator XpressWest, but one councilman warned that the move should not be taken to mean the city is no longer interested in the project.
South Lake Tahoe’s all-year playground gets boost with approval of recreation master plan (Tahoe Daily Tribune)
Tahoe’s South Shore may be known by its slogan, “America’s All-Year Playground,” but its recreation-focused amenities still needed a boost.