Land Use

Contentious California Beach Access Case Heads to U.S. Supreme Court

Longstanding Martins Beach Controversy May Well Capture Justices’ Attention

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018-19 Term is already shaping up as a big one for environmental law in general and the longstanding tension between private property rights and environmental regulation in particular.  The Court has already agreed to hear and decide two cases next Term raising the latter set of issues: one involves the question […]

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Global market for ecosystem services surges to $36 billion in annual transactions

New article in Nature Sustainability tracks global payments for ecosystems services

In the early 1990s, New York City began paying for land management in the Catskills watershed to ensure safe drinking water for the city, avoiding the cost of building an expensive water treatment plant. New York City provides just one example of a growing number of programs – called payments for ecosystem services (PES) – […]

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Ensuring Public Access to California Waterways–In Plain Language

New California State Lands Commission Public Access Guide Required Reading for Coastal Enthusiasts

California residents are passionate about their coastal and inland waterways–and especially their ability to access and enjoy these natural resources.  It was concern over being “walled off from the coast” by private development that prompted California voters in 1972 to approve an initiative measure that created the California Coastal Commission and led to California’s Coastal […]

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Surveying the Landscape of Local Zoning and CEQA

First report from Berkeley/Columbia research project shows how Bay Area residential developments negotiate land-use and CEQA review

A group of interdisciplinary researchers from law and planning (which I am part of) just released its first report on how CEQA and land-use law shape the process of regulating and approving residential developments in five Bay Area cities.  (I first posted about our research here.)  I’ve included the Executive Summary below, and the full […]

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Guest Blogger Ken Alex: Working and Natural Lands, From Sources to Sinks

Post #6 in a Series on California Climate Policy by Ken Alex, Senior Policy Advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown

[This is the sixth post in a series expressing my view of why California’s actions on climate change are so important and how they will change the world. The introductory post provides an overview and some general context.] Roughly 80% of California land is protected or agricultural.  That includes deserts, forests, wetlands, foothills, and multiple vegetative types, […]

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International Court of Justice recognizes and values ecosystem services (sort of)

In a judgment announced on February 2nd, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the very first time decided a compensation claim for environmental damage. Equally important, it took a close look at whether ecosystem goods and services are compensable under international law. The decision is both carefully considered and deeply frustrating. There have, of […]

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Sierra Club Opposes One Of The Most Important Climate Bills In California

Environmental group whiffs on proposed legislation to allow badly needed residential development near transit

Housing more Californians near transit and not in sprawl areas represents one of the most crucial ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Senate Bill 827 (Wiener) would help do just that, by preventing local governments from zoning people (and homes) out of these prime transit areas. So it was surprising to see an environmental organization […]

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Finally, California Gets A Meaningful Housing Bill

SB 827 (Wiener) would be a game-changer to solve the housing and sprawl crisis

California State Senator Scott Wiener just introduced the bill I’ve probably been waiting for since I started following land use and transit in California over a decade-and-a-half ago. SB 827 would dramatically scale back local government restrictions on housing near major transit stops (see the fact sheet PDF). These restrictions by local governments have prevented […]

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ Most Important Environmental Law Decisions of 2017

Constitutional Issues, Water Law, Native American Rights Dominate Court’s Environmental Docket

Happy New Year! As we move into 2018, let’s take a look back at the most significant environmental law decisions issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 2017. Conventional wisdom is that the second most important federal court in the nation (after the U.S. Supreme Court) is the D.C. Circuit […]

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The California Supreme Court’s Most Important Environmental Law Decisions of 2017

CEQA, Climate Change, Cannabis & Regulatory Takings Top the Justices’ Environmental Docket

As 2017 comes to a close, let’s take a moment to assess the California Supreme Court’s most significant environmental law decisions of the year. There are a large number of decided cases to choose from: as has been true over the past decade, in 2017 the California Supreme Court devoted a substantial portion of its […]

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