Monday, November 27, 2006

The son of Prop. 90

Via an email from Greenbelt Alliance, we learned that backers of the defeated Proposition 90, which would have decimated new land use protections, may try again with a new measure.

According to the article, the backers are now focusing on prohibiting eminent domain for private projects, rather than trying to block new environmental protections. If true, the new measure would be less relevant to CGF's work, but we'd have to look at the details to be certain.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Success with MidCoast Local Coastal Plan Amendment!

I am very pleased to announce that today the san Mateo County Board of Supervisors unanimously supported Resolution #4 as the means by which they will submit the LCP Amendment package to the Coastal Commission. This vote signals the Board's willingness to work collaboratively with the Commission. They have agreed to request and consider adopting any of the Commission's suggested modifications to those Amendments that are found to be non-compliance, as submitted, with the Coastal Act. The Amendments that are found to be in compliance will be certified as submitted. By rejecting an "all or nothing" approach, the Board has demonstrated its commitment to a successful outcome for this seven-year, community initiated project.

The Board followed the course of action that Committee for Green Foothills and many of you recommended. Thanks so much for sending your comments to Board members over the past two days. It made a difference. In addition to adopting Resolution #4, the Board followed CGF's other recommendation and directed that all non-LCP Amendments (namely, those that do not require Coastal Commission certification) be implemented right away. This means that the lot merger program, the formation of a flooding and drainage committee and release of the Midcoast Groundwater Study will not be delayed.

The LCP Update is not yet finished but we reached a milestone today.

Thanks again for staying with this process over the past seven years and speaking out -- clearly, eloquently and often -- in support of our Coast. While we did not prevail on all of the issues, we have ensured the adoption of stronger, more protective policies in many areas. Please continue to communicate, motivate and participate!

April Vargas, Board of Directors

Monday, November 13, 2006

MidCoast LCP Amendments before San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, November 14th

April Vargas of the CGF Board of Directors submitted these comments to the Board of Supervisors concerning what method the Board uses to seek approval of the Amendments by the Coastal Commission, who needs to provide the final approval.

Committee for Green Foothills Comments on
Midcoast LCP Update Project
County Counsel Memo November 14, 2006

County Counsel has identified four alternative forms of the resolution submitting the proposed changes to the County’s Local Coastal Program (LCP) to the California Coastal Commission.

Committee for Green Foothills supports Resolution No. 4 (Separate Amendments, Modification Possible) for the following reasons:

* Resolution Nos. 1 and 2 would involve an “all or nothing” approach to certification of the LCP Amendments. The entire package would either be certified or denied. While it is likely that most of the proposed LCP Amendments will be certified by the Coastal Commission, some may not. It would not be in the county’s best interest to risk a denial of the entire LCP amendment package if this is the case.

* Resolution No. 3 would allow the Commission to certify each Amendment separately, which would not risk denial of the entire package. However, the Commission would be precluded from suggesting modifications. Assuming the county would want to revise the Amendment so it could be certified, it would be helpful to know what modifications would meet the Coastal Act requirements.

* Resolution No. 4 allows the separate certification of Amendments that meet the requirements of the Coastal Act, and gives the County the additional benefit of the Commission’s suggestions for modifications. The County does not have to adopt those suggested modifications, and can always suggest other revisions, or provide additional background information that supports the County’s Amendment as originally submitted. Resolution No 4 allows for a process of give and take, and collaboration between the county and the Coastal Commission which reflects the partnership between our local government and the Coastal Commission).

Resolution No. 4 provides the most flexible approach to the certification process and will honor the extensive, seven-year public process that produced the set of Amendments to be certified. Hundreds of county residents, numerous staff members, the Planning Commission and your Board have all devoted countless hours in good faith efforts to draft essential changes to our Local Coastal Plan. These revisions have been crafted to address current conditions within the Midcoast area. Underlying this whole process is the requirement that these revisions meet the standards of Chapter Three of the Coastal Act. Resolution 4 provides the most effective method for meeting these requirements and we urge the Board to adopt it.

We also encourage the Board to adopt modifications that will allow the Non-LCP items to become effective immediately. County staff has proposed a comprehensive and balanced process for implementation of the substandard lot merger program and there is no reason to delay on this or any of the other Non-LCP items.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Don't forget to go out and vote!

CGF sent the Action Alert below to remind people of issues on tomorrow's ballot. For more information, you can also see our earlier Action Alert, here.


Dear Friends,

I’m sure you’ve already received many reminders to get out and vote in tomorrow’s election. I can’t remember a time when there are more measures on the ballot with the potential to impact the things we care about most: open space, park lands, clean air and water. The biggest concern now is that a low voter turnout could make the difference between winning and losing some of these crucial measures. Please take the time to vote tomorrow, your vote does make a difference! We wanted to remind you of the endorsements the Committee for Green Foothills’ board of directors has made this election season:

* Yes on State Proposition 84, the parks bond measure that provides funding for open space and parkland acquisition, watershed restoration, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and flood control.

* No on State Proposition 90, the “eminent domain reform bill” which is the most far reaching measure on the ballot with the potential to stop all environmental protection measures. If passed it would effectively abolish the passage and enforcement of basic laws that protect the environment.

* Yes on San Mateo County Measure A to fund our parks “for the future” with a small 1/8 cent sales tax increase, money that could be used in city and county parks for anything from acquisition to maintenance to park programming.

* Yes on Santa Clara County Measure A to protect against sprawl paving over our hillsides and agricultural lands.

Three local ballot measures in San Mateo County also threaten open space areas; if you live in Menlo Park, Pacifica, or Brisbane, your vote is needed to:

* Oppose Measure J, in Menlo Park, an advisory measure that asks voters whether the City should proceed with a major sports complex at Bayfront Park.

* Oppose Measure B in Brisbane that would authorize building housing in the Guadalupe Valley Quarry.

* Oppose Measure L in Pacifica that would authorize a zoning change to allow housing in the former Rockaway Quarry.

Many thanks for speaking up for open space!

Holly Van Houten
Executive Director

Friday, November 3, 2006

Letter to San Jose requesting updated fiscal analysis

We submitted the following letter to the Coyote Valley Task Force, and we'll just hope it gets some results.

October 30, 2006

Coyote Valley Specific Plan Task Force

Re: Need for an accurate update of the Draft Fiscal Analysis

Dear Members of the CVSP Task Force:

The Committee for Green Foothills submitted several comments about the Draft Fiscal Analysis for Coyote Valley that came out earlier this year, and we understand that the City’s consultants are revising their analysis. We repeat our request that all our comments are specifically addressed in a “Response to Comments” format similar to that used in EIRs. Equally important, we urge the City to require updated house pricing information as part of the analysis, rather than rely upon the same starting price information used in the April Draft.

As you recall, the Draft assumes house prices and that are the basis for residential taxes will increase 3% over and above inflation every year for over 50 years, while assuming that costs of providing services will grow much more slowly. We already can see this is wrong in the short term – 2006 prices have not increased at the rate the analysis expected, and there is no reason for 2007 to be different. If the revised Draft does not update the house price information, it will begin analysis with information already known to be incorrect. Even in the nearly-impossible event that the long-term expectations of the Draft are correct for every year after 2007, the current price correction should lower housing revenue projections by around 5%. That should be reflected in the consultant analysis.

Furthermore, there is likely to be a significant time gap between the revised analysis and final City Council consideration of Coyote Valley. When the issue reaches the City Council, there should be one more revision of the house price numbers with the updated information at that time. Neither of our requested updates should require much work – just plug the revised numbers into the existing model, and run the projections into the future. There is no reason not to provide the Task Force and City Council with the most current information.

As you may also recall, the Committee for Green Foothills did not consider the Draft’s revenue projections to be credible. New information over the last six months reinforces the idea that housing prices cannot forever increase faster than income, the underpinning of the Draft’s rosy scenario. We hope this problem will be addressed in the revision.

Please contact us if you have any questions.


Brian A. Schmidt
Legislative Advocate, Santa Clara County