Land Use

Addressing Climate Change Without Legislation

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A new report from UC Berkeley looks at the underused powers of the US Department of the Interior.

Now that the Environmental Protection Agency has announced its proposed rules for restricting greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, the climate focus of EPA and the states will first be on polishing the rules for final approval, then on the anticipated law suits, and then on the development of state plans to meet the […]

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Feds Downgrade Monterey Shale Oil Reserves by 95.6%

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LA Times op-ed highlights increase in trains transporting oil into California

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is reducing its previous estimate for technically recoverable oil in California’s Monterey Shale from 13.7 billion barrels of oil to just 600 million barrels of oil—a dramatic 95.6 percent reduction. Has the oil industry been chasing rainbows in search of illusive “black gold” Monterey oil? For years, the oil […]

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Of Corn and Climate

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Trouble may be brewing in the corn belt.

We continue to gain a better understanding of the impacts of climate change, which are sometimes subtle and unexpected.  Two articles in Science report significant new research. The first report comes from two researchers at the University of Illinois.  Corn, like other plants, needs to pull CO2 from the air for photosynthesis.  But the same tiny […]

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California’s Infill Backlash

Santa Monicans wanted this project out of their beach community.

It's here, and it needs to be addressed

For environmental and economic reasons, we want jobs and people to move back to our cities. People living in cities pollute less because they don’t drive as much and tend to live in smaller homes. Economically, they can save a lot of money on transportation and energy costs, while thriving neighborhoods can create cultural and […]

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Quantifying Environmental Justice (& Injustice) in California–An Update

California Improves an Already-Powerful Environmental Justice Analytical Tool

A year ago, I wrote about an important environmental justice initiative pioneered by the California Environmental Protection Agency and its subsidiary entity, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. That 2013 initiative, titled CalEnviroScreen, divided up the State of California by zip code, applied 11 environmental health and pollution factors, assessed each of the state’s […]

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What Steve Jobs Could Teach Us About Land Use and Transit Planning

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Lessons for making urban spaces great from the celebrated entrepreneur

Steve Jobs died in 2011, but his life experience, as related by biographer Walter Isaacson, offers some important lessons for today’s transit and urban development practitioners. I just finished reading the biography and was struck — like many others — by what a notoriously awful person he was to those around him. Part of the […]

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The Missing of Summer Lawns*

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It's Time to End the Wasteful Practice of Irrigating California's Residential Landscaping With Fresh Water

What a difference a drought makes. Once upon a time, a fundamental attribute of home ownership in California and the American West was an expansive, verdant lawn surrounding private homes, townhouses and apartment complexes. Indeed, some communities have historically imposed permit conditions or adopted local ordinances mandating the inclusion and maintenance of lush, healthy lawns […]

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Going, Going, Gone

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Despite it’s depressing subject, Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction is a great read.  She travels around the world, from a “hotel” for endangered frogs in Panama to an outdoor biodiversity experiment in the Peruvian rainforest to an endangered rhino’s rectal exam in Cincinnati.  Yet, there’s no denying that the topic is a downer.  The title implies that we […]

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Will Regulatory Takings Always Be A Mess?

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Takings law is a legal quagmire. It's likely to stay that way.

I recently reread an article that my late colleague Joe Sax published exactly fifty years ago.  It’s a striking piece of scholarship, all the more impressive so early in his career. But one particular statement made a particular impression on me: “Nevertheless, the predominant characteristic of this area of law is a welter of confusing […]

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The Perils of Rail Transit and Democracy

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How Decentralized Decision-Making Can Screw Up Rail Planning and Implementation

Americans seem to love democracy but hate many of the results. We want governmental power to be decentralized, whether it’s across three federal branches or with local control over sometimes regionally oriented land use decisions. But when the inevitable compromise that is required to get majority approval means a less-than-perfect result, from Obamacare to budget […]

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