Thursday, May 9, 2013

Killing CEQA for the Downtown Investors Club

It's a not quite so brave new world
It is truly astonishing just how far Sacramento is willing to go to help promote the kinds of DSP-style development being pushed for right here in Sierra Madre. And all over the state of California for that matter. After all, if there is something that does distinguish the cabal of downtown killers in our little town, it certainly isn't originality. What they have been pushing here for years can be found almost everywhere else. Quite obviously that has never concerned them all that much.

CEQA, the environmental law that has long been the friend of ecologically concerned preservationists and slow growth advocates, is now in the process of being significantly weakened by the usual venal Sacramento legislative idiots, and for one very specific purpose. To help promote the kinds of mixed used high density transit village style development that has been pushed here for years by the likes of Bart Doyle, John Buchanan and the handful of delusional suckers who thought they were going to get rich off of their downtown investments back around 2006.

The "green cult of the condo," the SB 375 promoted science fiction of a notion that the state can somehow massively build its way out of global warming, is now quite ironically being used to help take down CEQA, the most effective ecological protection legislation California has ever known. All done so that one of the last truly effective tools for those remaining small cities resisting such garbage development within their borders can be taken away and destroyed.

From an article written by three attorneys from the law firm of Latham and Watkins (professional home to none other than Mayor Pro Tem* John Harabedian), here is the dirty lowdown:

Potential changes for the California Environmental Quality Act in S.B. 731(link): Many interest groups have urged that the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) needs to be “modernized”, but disagree as to the changes that are needed. As the California Legislature tackles this challenge, the most visible effort is Senate Bill 731 (S.B. 731) now sponsored by California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. As a bill sponsored by the President pro Tem there is a reasonable likelihood this legislation will pass, whether in this form or in an amended version, so its provisions are of particular interest.

S.B. 731, which faces its first legislative hearing on Wednesday May 1, 2013, was amended last week.

Rather than broad-based CEQA reform, the bill focuses more narrowly on changing the CEQA process for infill and clean energy projects and makes modest changes in a number of areas. While the bill is intended to benefit infill projects that implement “smart growth” attributes, the extent to which the legislation might result in benefits or burdens to such projects will depend upon new significance thresholds that the bill proposes to be developed by the Resources Agency. The bill also contains a number of new procedural requirements that could lengthen and complicate the CEQA process for all types of projects. Opinions of observers are quite divided as to whether the bill on an overall basis provides greater benefits than burdens to project applicants.

S.B. 731 contains the following proposed changes:

Aesthetic impacts for “residential, mixed-use residential, or employment center projects within a transit priority area” would not be considered significant impacts under CEQA. (“Transit priority area” is defined by S.B. 731 as an area within one-half mile of an existing or planned major transit stop.) The language is vague about whether this would apply to all residential and mixed-use residential projects, or only those in a transit priority area.

The ironies really do pile up on this one. California's best ever environmental law is now being gutted so the false promise that we can somehow, through the development of massive gouts of condo sprawl, build our way out of global warming can go forward unchallenged. All done so that certain concerned interest groups can make some money at the expense of communities such as ours. Trust me, the Green Committee probably loves it.

How far has this madness gone? Check out this little piece of Orwellian magic from a related article in the Fresno Bee (link):

Another resolution affirmed the party's support for the California Environmental Quality Act. Critics of the law have launched a renewed push to rewrite that law, saying aspects are delaying development and economic growth. While their main Democratic ally, former state Sen. Michael Rubio, left the Legislature suddenly this spring, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is continuing to work on legislation that would make some changes to the law.

California Labor Federation Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski listed CEQA one example of how labor will "take the victories we had in November into victories with bills and laws in California."

"The labor movement is strongly behind working with you to ensure that we protect (CEQA) to protect our families and the environment in our great state."

You see, in the minds of those who stand to profit by it, protecting CEQA can only be achieved by destroying CEQA. And if you don't agree its probably because you hate the planet.

It really is all being done to help save us, you know. Isn't that how you sell such things in California? Tell people that actions done in your own economic self-interest are really to help save the world?

Measure A: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Measure A, the ballot initiative concocted by the PUSD Redistricting Task Force for the purpose of bringing a greater diversity to our Board of Education, has been pretty much a failure. Outside of depriving us of a Board of Education vote until two years later than most of the district, few of its initially declared goals have been achieved.

But as with bad medication, there have been some deleterious side effects. One of them being a gridlocked PUSD Board of Ed that cannot even decide who to elect as its new president. This from the Pasadena Star News (link):

Pasadena school board fails to name president; Hampton sworn in - Deadlock in Pasadena leaves Renatta Cooper in change until seventh member appointed: Tyron Hampton became a member of the Pasadena school board Monday evening, and he could end up its president. Down to six members until a seventh person is appointed next month, the new board failed to agree on who should serve as their leader, splitting the votes between Scott Phelps and Elizabeth Pomeroy.

That left previous president Renatta Cooper in charge on an unofficial basis, and Hampton secured the vice presidency after Cooper switched her vote to end another deadlock. Cooper had backed Hampton in the election. Phelps, however, warned that without an elected president, the Los Angeles County Board of Education could step in and name someone, possibly turning to Hampton as second in command. "There are other ramifications like not being able to conduct business," Phelps said. "That could be the consequence."

The board adjourned Monday with plans to seek legal advice on how to proceed, though Cooper hoped it could wait long enough to resolve the deadlock on their own. "I have a feeling we'll have our seventh board member by the time the county gets around to making a judgment," she said.

The only official role of the county Office of Education is to call for an election when there's a vacancy, a spokeswoman said, The Pasadena school board might also wind up in a stalemate on the appointment. Cooper, Pomeroy and Tom Selinske represent one faction, while Phelps has backing from Hampton and Kim Kenne.

Here is my question. If the Board of Education is split right down the middle, and can not agree on who should be its next president, how will they be able to decide who to appoint to that now vacant at-large seat? Anybody know?

If anyone sees Renatta Cooper around, can you please ask her that?

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

46 comments:

  1. "Aesthetic impacts for “residential, mixed-use residential, or employment center projects within a transit priority area” would not be considered significant impacts under CEQA."
    In other words, go ahead and build some high denisty boxes and cram them in for maximum profit. Long live the developers dollar.

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    1. $acramento for sale. Inquire within.

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    2. Big and ugly is OK. It will save the developer money.
      Parking is also an issue that CEQA does not address.

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    3. You don't need parking! Ride the bus.

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    4. Leave yourself a couple of hours to get there.

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  2. Maybe getting rid of restrictions like CEQA would stimulate responsible, sensitive development. On another planet. Where more people in the realty/development industry care about integrity.

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  3. The Jerry Brown - Daryl Steinberg solution to pollution. Call it green and sell the rights to the highest bidder.

    World saved!

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  4. LA Times column by John Van de Kamp, page A15 in support of keeping and strengthening CEQA. It had served us well in Sierra Madre over fights in the foothills until we got the gang of 4 that ignored community CEQA responses and gave away 1 Carter. My recollection is that CEQA grew out of a fight to save Mammoth, Friends of Mammoth somewhere around 1972.

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  5. So that is great news. The state is using global warming as a tool to reward some favored lobbyists.Nice!

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  6. Ironic that CEQA was pushed into law by GOP reps in Sacramento because the Republicans were tired of the Dems claiming Dems more environmentally friendly. Now the Dems want to gut CEQA. How green is that?

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    Replies
    1. Not at all. We're being lied to. But we often are.

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    2. Gotta wonder at the complete surrender of the Dems to the building industry. Are they people or jellyfish?

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    3. Neither. It is a one party state. They have become corrupt.

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    4. Kind of like baby birds in a nest. They sit there with their mouths wide open waiting to be fed.

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    5. When I moved to Sierra Madre and saw the decisions the local Dems made about the environment, I knew that there was no correlation between them and the supposed ideals of the Democratic Party. Guess it's a state-wide contagion.

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    6. It's the democrats who have really put the future of this small town in jeopardy.

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    7. That is why after years of being a registered democrat I changed to "decline to state." The democrats run this state like it is Peru.

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    8. But 1:21 pm, I thought it was Bart Doyle! And he's a registered Republican...

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    9. Yes but Doyle is a RINO

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    10. Doyle's key supporters are Dems, and the people who said yes to everything he proposed are Dems....

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    11. Didn't Bart attempt to run for office as a Republican? Assembly or something? I hear that went about as well as everything else he does.

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    12. Doyle has always beed a Republican

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    13. I think he is a Richard Nixon Republican.

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  7. Look on the bright side, with CEQA weakened we can frack ALL OVER CALIFORNIA!

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    Replies
    1. An idea from fundamentalist armageddon believers - frack in earthquake country, so you can hurry up the last days.

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    2. I like it. Oil will lead to the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy!

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  8. Part of the CEQA legislation stated that it was the responsiblity of all Californians to participate in environmental protection, problably stated in the introduction. That was an important time in the clean-up of California which Van de Kamp remembers growing up in Altadena when you couldn't see the mountains for the smog or take a deep breath without choking. I remember growing up in El Monte and on a hot summer day after getting out of the public pool in Baldwin Park for the bus ride home your lungs were killing you.

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  9. CEQA puts power in the hands of the people. Sacramento hates that gets in the way of business.

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  10. Well, heck...the county Office of Education could step in and apoint a President, maybe they should vet the list of applicants for the empty seat, maybe they could just select the entire board. Might just work out ok.

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    1. Maybe the seats should just be put up for sale? Nobody votes anyway, even those who are allowed to do so.

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    2. Good idea. It would help to close the PUSD's budget gap.

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    3. Musical chairs?

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    4. More like drum circle chairs.

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  11. I think it would be a delicious irony if Tyron Hampton, the newest member on the board, became the President of the Board.

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    1. Tyron Hampton is way too green to try to run that motley crew, both on the board, and in the room.

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    2. Has anyone seen who's applied for the vacant seat? There's an update daily at this link. There's a few Sierra Madre residents.

      http://pasadenausd.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/917180/File/List%20of%20Applications%20-%20Board%20Seat%204.pdf?sessionid=3d0f13913954dd119da806b91ce3958b

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    3. Thanks for posting this link 4:53 pm. Interesting group. Three from Sierra Madre.

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    4. But can any of the three Sierra Madre residents stand up against what the Pasadena elite are going to unveil tomorrow?

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  12. The Star News article makes an interesting point. Some LA County agency could very well appoint someone because the Board of Ed is too deadlocked to appoint someone. Which means that the selection of the at large rep will now be twice removed from us.

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    1. I've heard there's some citizens silently protesting in front of certain Board member's homes......

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    2. Can you blame them? Just when you think things cannot get any worse, they get worse.

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  13. The development industry has long knives. They have patience too. When public sentiment was more for environmental protections, they adopted a less public stance, working more behind the scenes. But give up overturning all and every regulation? Never. Money is their God, and they are faithful worshippers.

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  14. Tomorrow at 5:00 is the deadline to apply for the vacant seat. The application and questionnaire is online, that and a resume (i did a targeted one) are all you need worry about right now. There are no fees, unlike during an election. Delivered- or faxed- to the office of the superintendent. Please take the time to consider applying.

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    Replies
    1. John Crawford, why don't you put in an application?

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    2. I have no experience in the education field. I think the focus needs to be on the many qualified candidates who do.

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