Land Use

Building a Blue-Green Coalition in California

By Marcy Winograd
Former Democratic Candidate for Congress

After the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, with its codification of imprisonment without charge or trial, I could no longer register voters for the Democratic Party – even with the hope of involving new registrants in the California Democratic Party’s popular Progressive Caucus. If I could not ask someone to join the Democratic Party, I could not in good conscience stay in the party, even as an insurgent writing resolutions and platform planks to end our wars for oil.

Unfortunately, too many corporate Democrats, beholden to big-money donors or to a jobs sector dependent on militarism, vote for perpetual war and the surveillance state, replete with secret wiretaps, black hole prisons, and targeted assassinations. Far too many who are fearful or bought by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee vote for legislation that relegates Palestinians to second-class citizenship and threatens to take our country to the brink of an unthinkable war on Iran.

New Study Reveals California Has Enough Housing to Meet Demand for More Than Two Decades

By Bruce Reznik
Planning and Conservation League

Last week, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) released a study detailing how California’s four largest metropolitan areas (Sacramento, Bay Area, Southern California and San Diego), which make up 80 percent of the state’s population, are seeing a trend in locational demands for housing. The dream of owning a home out in the suburbs seems to be shifting as young professionals, and those entering the workforce, care more about living in close proximity to areas served by mass transit, with better access to goods, services and their employment. 

Westlands Official Working for DWR on Bay Delta Conservation Plan

By Dan Bacher

An employee of the Westlands Water District is currently working “on loan” for the Department of Water Resources (DWR) on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), the plan initiated by state and federal water contractors to allow them to build a peripheral canal or tunnel in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Documents obtained by this reporter under the California Public Records Act reveal that Susan Ramos, Deputy General Manager of the Westlands Water District, was hired in an inter-jurisdictional personal exchange agreement between the Department of Water Resources and Westlands Water District from November 15, 2009 through December 31, 2010.

The contract was extended to run through December 31, 2011 and again to continue through December 31, 2012.

San Francisco PUC fails to Support $9.8 Billion Estimate to Restore Hetch Hetchy

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

Preceding qualification of a 2012 San Francisco ballot measure that will ask city residents to return the Hetch Hetchy Valley to the National Park Service for restoration, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission admits its nearly ten billion dollar cost estimate for the project was not based on any study performed by it, but rather was an esitmate for the same state agency study that cites the SFPUC as the source of the cost estimate.

Mike Marshall, Executive Director of the Restore Hetch Hetchy non-profit organization, claims the nearly ten billion dollar figure comes from a 2007 California Department of Water Resources report that footnotes the estimates to undisclosed SFPUC documentation. 

The Grassroots Effort to Save Plummer Park

By Stephanie J. Harker
Protect Plummer Park

In the small City of West Hollywood, the council has seen fit, even in these difficult times, with California on the brink of bankruptcy, to push forward with a $41.3M renovation of historic Plummer Park. The plan includes gutting the park to install a $10Million underground parking structure, netting 69 extra spaces and necessitating the demolition of Great Hall/Long Hall, the only two WPA (President Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration) structures in the city and decimation of Fiesta Hall designed by noted architect, Henry L. Gogerty.

We Can’t Afford to Give Away the Great Outdoors

By Pablo Rodriguez
Communities for a New California

According to a just released study by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, outdoors recreation and land conservation and preservation generates $1 trillion in economic activity and supports 9.4 million in jobs each year in the United States. 

Central Valley Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA-22) is leading the charge to undermine 9.4 million jobs created by four decades of conservation efforts by lawmakers from both parties. Rep. McCarthy is the author of H.R. 1581, often referred to as the “Great Outdoors Giveaway” because it benefits a few special interests at the expense of our wild lands and our health.

Smelt Survive Water Exporters Appeal To U.S. Supreme Court, Wolk Says Delta Next

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

On Sunday the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a federal appeals court decision that upheld the use of the Endangered Species Act in protecting the near-extinct Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Smelt. 

Environmentalists rejoiced over the news the high court had declined to hear the appeal of three Central Valley Farms that sought to limit the law’s reach in protecting the 2 ½” long Delta fish from extinction. 

The rebuff marks the sixth time the nation’s highest court has refused to question the Endangered Species Act, according to Greg Stohr at

Reps, Residents and Ranchers Worry About Water Exporters Control Over Delta Plan

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

At an oversight hearing in Sacramento last week, Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), chairman of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, voiced concern that water exporters will have unprecedented control over the content and focus of a plan that would steer the state’s water policies for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for next fifty years.

The hearing on the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) was the fifth held by Huffman, whose district stretches from the Delta, the largest wetlands estuary west of the Mississippi, to coastal communities north of the Golden Gate - many of which are dependent on commercial fishing of the endangered Delta Salmon.

Delta Fish Rebound Endangers Already Troubled Water Bond, Claim Opponents

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

The Department of Fish and Game’s announcement this month of a remarkable turnaround in the populations of the Bay-Delta estuary’s endangered Smelt and Salmon species spelled more trouble for proponents of the state’s 2012 water bond measure.

Delta legislators and environmentalists were delighted by news of the recovering populations within the Delta but, assured an epic election battle where they expect to be heavily outspent by water interest groups, continue to promote science, conservation and regional sustainability over what they claim is a monolithic funding measure that's bloated with unnecessarily expensive statewide solutions to what amount to regional water woes.

Delta Fish Populations Rebound, Vindicating Department of Interior Scientists

By Doug Obegi

“Just add water.” For several years, fishermen, conservationists, and scientists have argued that if we provide adequate freshwater flows to the Bay-Delta, native fish populations would begin to rebound. In 2007, a federal court required pumping restrictions to protect native fisheries in the Delta, and this year, the CVP and SWP provided sufficient flows in September and October to restore habitat for delta smelt (what’s known as the Fall X2 action). Not surprisingly, it worked – fish populations rebounded.