California's redevelopment agencies are poised to go to the state Supreme Court to fight the new law crafted by Gov. Brown and the Legislature to abolish them. From Tracy Seipel in the Mercury News.
"It wasn't enough for the California Legislature to
essentially kill redevelopment agencies throughout the state; lawmakers added a
"poison pill" that will basically prevent the agencies from coming
back to life."
"Within the two redevelopment bills that Gov. Jerry Brown
signed into law on June 30 are provisions that say even if the California
Supreme Court rules the bills are unconstitutional, the agencies can't sell
debt ever again."
"That could be the final nail in the coffin for
redevelopment agencies, which have been able to use property tax revenue in
"blighted" areas to build projects such as the HP Pavilion and
convention center in downtown San Jose."
"San Jose's agency and others financed projects by selling
debt, or issuing bonds, repaying the debt through the growth in those
designated areas' property tax revenues. Without that ability, agencies could
not exist -- exactly what the "poison pill'' would accomplish."
Down in La-La land, the closure of the 405 proved to be a roaring success -- the city didn't melt down, the closure ended ahead of schedule and everybody is ready to do it again next year.
From the LA Times' Kenneth R. Weiss, Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Andrew Khouri: "Contractors had padded the
schedule to allow for unforeseen mishaps in tearing down half of the Mulholland
Drive bridge before the Monday morning rush, risking enormous fines and public
disdain under an international spotlight if they were late."
"It wasn't needed. The demolition went smoothly,
enabling contractors to finish about 17 hours ahead of schedule, pocket an
extra $300,000 in incentive payments and win acclaim from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other
officials who jockeyed for position in front of television cameras."
"Mission accomplished," the mayor said,
beaming as if he had just won a war."
Meanwhile, in the never-ending dispute over medical marijuana, a policy memo written by a federal Justice Department olfficial is causing concern in California, where medical marijuana is a thriving industry. The Bee's Peter Hecht tells the tale.
"But last month brought a new memo from another deputy
attorney general, James Cole. And this time, it is stirring industry fears of
federal raids on pot dispensaries and sweeping crackdowns on large-scale
medical pot cultivation."
"Cole asserted in the June 29 memo that state laws "are
not a defense" from federal prosecution, saying, "Congress has
determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug" – and that distributing it
"is a serious crime."
Department officials said the
memo offered "guidance" for states permitting medical marijuana and
didn't mark a harsher shift in federal policy. But it was a clear signal of the
government's concern about a move toward industrial-scale operations that would
generate millions of dollars in revenue."
Musical chairs: In San Franciso, where BART directors are looking for a new chief, the word on the street is the that one of the candidates is the former head of SF's Muni system.
From the Chronicle's Matier and Ross: "There may be a Ford in BART's future."
"Word is, Nathaniel Ford, the
recently departed head of San Francisco's Muni system, is in the mix to be
BART's general manager."
"According to those in the know, Ford was approached by a
head hunter for the transit agency, which is looking around for a replacement
for the forced-out Dorothy Dugger. And some BART board members
definitely appear to be interested."
"Ford's possible entry into the BART sweepstakes is the
latest twist in the game of musical chairs at three of the Bay Area's top
The new $150 annual fee for rural homeowners -- the idea, approved by lawmakers, is to improve firefighting services -- is just getting under-way, and not surprisingly it's sparking controversy. From the LA Times' Michael Mishak.
say the fire fee, if it survives threatened court challenges from taxpayer
groups, marks a significant, if small, shift in California's approach to
wildland development. Still, better management of growth in fire-hazard
regions, they said, will take stronger planning measures, including mandating
that counties have sufficient fire protection before approving new
"For millions of Californians, the pull of nature is irresistible."
"After the Cedar fire turned sun-drenched San Diego Country Estates into a
moonscape in 2003, homeowner Stephen Brown didn't think twice. He hired an
architect to rebuild his Mexican-style house in rural Ramona, in the foothills
of the Cuyamaca Mountains on the edge of the Cleveland National Forest."
"You gotta do what you gotta do," said Brown, a financial planner.
"It was my home."