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California Energy Commission Approves City of Lancaster’s Residential Solar Ordinance

January 6, 2014

Lancaster Mayor Rex ParrisCity of Lancaster – California Energy Commission (CEC) has approved the City of Lancaster’s locally adopted energy standards which will require single family residential units built within Lancaster on or after January 1, 2014 to provide an average of 1 kilowatt (kW) of solar-generated electricity per housing unit. Having now been given the authority to enforce the ordinance, Lancaster is the first city in the nation to make residential solar mandatory. The new ordinance, adopted by the Lancaster City Council on March 26, 2013, was approved by the CEC on December 11, 2013.

“We continue to aggressively pursue net-zero status, and this approval by the CEC proves we are indeed on the right path,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “We are strongly committed to reducing our carbon footprint, while advancing green energy alternatives to traditional power resources. Requiring solar power assets for new residential construction in the coming years will bring Lancaster one huge step closer to becoming the Alternative Energy Capital of the World, while providing new homeowners with earth-friendly and cost-effective benefits.”

Lancaster’s Residential Zoning Ordinance was comprehensively revised to require new home builders to Read more…

New California Law Promotes Urban Gardens By Allowing Municipalities To Lower Property Taxes

October 4, 2013

From the Los Angeles Times – California cities and counties eager to encourage community gardens and small-scale farms in urban pockets have a novel tool at their disposal. Legislation recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will allow municipalities to lower the assessed value — and property taxes — on plots of three acres or less if owners pledge to dedicate them to growing food for at least five years.

The legislation authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) arose from this city’s rich blend of urban ag interests: community gardens with long waiting lists, nonprofits that offer hands-on nutritional education, and small enterprises like Galloway’s that took root when officials here changed zoning laws.

The program is voluntary: Interested cities can now move forward to create “urban agriculture incentive zones.” County supervisors must then sign off. (Counties can also directly create their own zones.)

It passed the Senate unanimously and garnered just six no votes in the Assembly.

Ting, a former San Francisco assessor, described it as “a subsidy with a very limited fiscal impact. We’re trying to drive better land use for people who might have a parking lot or an empty lot they’re waiting to develop.”

For years, Ting had backed cutting-edge San Francisco policies that helped transform eyesore parcels, raising property values on entire blocks. The idea spread.

“We started to see a movement in cities all over California that have really decided they want to be growing their food,” he said. “They want to have access to agricultural space.”

The concept for the zones is a hybrid of Read more…

L.A. Mayor Garcetti Wants To Develop Data System To Track Performance Of City Departments

September 27, 2013

From the Los Angeles Times – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s goal is to develop a finely tuned data system that will track key measures of performance for every city agency — how many miles of streets get repaired, how long it takes to pick up bulky items of trash. Starting around Oct. 8, the 100th day of his administration, aides say, results will be posted on the Web. What measures Garcetti will roll out remains to be seen, but the concept would be to allow residents to check such things as whether 911 response times in their neighborhoods are improving or how long it takes to clean up graffiti.

The objective, Garcetti says, is a higher quality of life for the city’s 3.8 million residents. Managers who embrace the new ethos of efficiency and accountability will stay, he says. The others will go.

Other cities, including Minneapolis and Boston, have set up performance measuring Web pages that Garcetti’s team views as models for Los Angeles. The Minneapolis site shows violent crime rising from 2001 to 2006, then declining steadily. Boston’s site reports a slowdown in streetlight repairs over the last 18 months.

The L.A. project is integral to Read more…

Nationally Recognized Planner Bill Fulton Named San Diego Planning Director

June 17, 2013

From the San Diego Union-Tribune – Bill Fulton, a nationally recognized urban planner, was named Tuesday as San Diego’s 11th planning director, a position Mayor Bob Filner is bringing back in his first departmental appointment and reorganization since taking office last year.

Fulton, 57, a former mayor of Ventura, currently is vice president for policy and programs at Smart Growth America, a Washington, D.C. think tank that promotes non-sprawl planning.

He pledged to make San Diego “the most prosperous and sustainable and equitable city in the world.”

In his new post, starting July 8, Fulton will oversee a newly created department, tentatively called Read more…

Study Links Crime Rates To Zoning In Los Angeles

April 11, 2013

From EGP News – Los Angeles city blocks zoned for both residential and commercial uses have lower crime rates than nearby blocks pegged for commercial purposes, according to a study released recently by a Santa Monica- based think tank.

The RAND Corp. study, which examined city blocks in Boyle Heights, Highland Park, Hollywood, San Pedro, South Los Angeles, Southeast Los Angeles, West Adams and Westlake, found that crime was lowest in blocks zoned for residential-only uses, even in relatively high crime neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

“At least in the case of a city like Los Angeles, zoning matters – an important fraction of reported crime is associated with Read more…

Los Angeles City Council To Consider Ways To Streamline Permitting Process

March 5, 2013

LACityEntitlementProcessOne of the difficulties of getting a project permitted and approved is working with the different requirements of different city departments.  Sometimes, the requirements of one department conflicts with the requirements of another department.  Resolving those conflicts can add a significant amount of time to the permitting process.

The Los Angeles City Council is going to consider proposed structural changes that could streamline the permitting process. A report from various departments is due to the City Council by March 14.

From the Los Angeles Downtown News – Eighteen months after the city adopted a $600,000 plan to reform its notoriously Byzantine development permitting process, implementation has been slow. Now, city leaders are considering more radical changes, though they may sound familiar to veterans of City Hall.

In July 2011, consultants KH-Woolpert delivered a slate of proposed reforms, including long-term initiatives such as Read more…

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait Discusses Reforming City’s Permitting Processes

February 11, 2013

AnaheimMayorTomTait-StateOfTheCity-2013It is important for a city to have rules and regulations that protect its residents, but it is also important for a city to review and process business permit applications efficiently and quickly.  Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has been pushing for his city to be more business-friendly with his Regulatory Relief Task Force by reviewing the City’s permitting process and instituting reforms that will help businesses complete the process more quickly than before.  Helping businesses open quicker helps generate more tax revenue for cities to provide services for its residents.

Below is an excerpt from Mayor Tait’s 2013 State of the City Address where he discusses his efforts to make Anaheim the most business-friendly city in California.  I hope that other cities will take notes of what Mayor Tait is doing in Anaheim to help make the permitting process more efficient and streamlined.

From Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait’s 2013 State of the City Address:  Now let’s talk about how we grow the economy and create jobs in our city…and incidentally, as a side benefit, create more revenue for the city.

When Governor Brown gave his State of the State address a couple of weeks ago, there was one thing he said that particularly got my attention. He said: Read more…

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