Land Use

The Missing of Summer Lawns*

lawn photo

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

sixth extinction

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?

supreme court

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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Are Californians Finally Getting Out of Our Cars?

If Something Looks Too Good To Be True, Then It Probably Is

It looks like a miracle: Californians aren’t depending quite as heavily on cars for commutes and  errands as they did a decade ago, according to a new survey by Caltrans. Although driving is still by far the most dominant mode of transportation  across the state, accounting for about three-quarters of daily trips,  researchers say a […]

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U.S. Supreme Court Deals Blow to National Rails-to-Trails Movement

rails2trails

Justices Hand Property Owners Another Important Win, With Public Access the Loser

Some U.S. Supreme Court decisions blow through American jurisprudence like a hurricane. Others slip into the law books quietly, like the proverbial cat’s paws. Today’s Court decision in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States falls into the latter category: largely overlooked by Court followers and the media, but with the potential to have […]

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Berkeley Law Amicus Brief Highlights Benefits of Transit-Oriented Development

San Diego 805 Freeway

Smart growth alternatives would help end the vicious cycle of highway expansion and housing sprawl in San Diego region

Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) filed an amicus brief last week in a California Court of Appeal case with far-reaching implications for development, transportation, and California’s climate goals. The case, Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), challenges the State’s first Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy […]

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Can Los Angeles Reinvent Itself Around Rail?

Blue vintage car

New op-ed explains key challenges and opportunities

A city famous for its car culture now has three new rail transit projects under construction.  Can Los Angeles reinvent itself around rail-oriented development? Passenger vehicle transportation plays a major role in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. But building more rail, alone, is not enough to get folks off the road and onto public transit. […]

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The ballot-box and urban infill

How the initiative power affects land-use decisions in California

Here at Legal Planet we’ve been paying a lot of attention to how CEQA affects land-use decisions.  So has the legislature.  And that’s fair enough.  CEQA is important.  And CEQA may well be deterring an important range of urban infill development that is environmentally important. But it’s not the only thing that affects urban infill […]

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Are Transit Strikes Bad for the Environment?

BART train.  Photo: Jon 'ShakataGaNai' Davis via Wikipedia

Banning public transit strikes might help the environment

Even if you’re not from the Bay Area, you’ve probably heard about the labor troubles at the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) – the rail system that is one of the largest public transit providers here in the Bay Area in terms of passengers.  Hundreds of thousands of commuters use the BART system on […]

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