We've all suspected for a while now that Airbnb is decreasing the housing stock in San Francisco, where housing units are a precious asset. Though Airbnb either disputes the claim or says it's not a big deal, investigations by the San Francisco Chronicle suggest that Airbnb hosts in San Francisco aren't just renting a room in their apartment or renting the apartment when they're not there; a significant number of hosts may be leasing a totally separate apartment from where they live as a side business.
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When a city council wants to engage in land use planning, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires a study (which can take months) before the city council can do anything. Ah, but not so when citizens themselves propose a land use initiative: there, an abbreviated environmental impact study will suffice. It must be completed in 30 days, if at all.
This issue arose after Walmart wanted to open a new 27,000 square foot "Supercenter" in Sonora (Tuolumne County). But before it could, the city had to conduct a full CEQA study. In response, Sonora resident James Grinnell began a voter initiative (authored by Walmart, according to the Sonora Union-Democrat) that ultimately garnered the requisite number of votes. After the city council adopted the ordinance without submitting it to an election, a local small business group sued to stop it on the grounds that the city had to conduct a full environmental review first.
Last week, the California Supreme Court, unanimously overruling an appellate court decision, ruled that the city does not have to conduct a full CEQA analysis when the initiative comes from voters, as opposed to the legislature.
In this week's update, we take a look at a new celebrity lawsuit, how California is dealing with the water shortage, and keeping firearms out of the wrong hands.
As the effects of global warming are felt every day as we weather this drought, California legislators continue to debate how to deal with the impending effects of climate change.
And as cap-and-trade is debated, California's Department of Health is setting new standards by "adopting the nation's first-ever drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium," reports the Los Angeles Times.
California is somewhat famous for its protracted battles over property variances and compliance with zoning restrictions.
In Eskeland v. City of Del Mar, neighbors of a man who wanted to remodel his home fought tooth and nail to keep him from doing so, claiming he was in violation of the city's many municipal codes. In the end, the Court of Appeal denied the neighbor's challenges to his plans.
Here are five lessons all neighbors can learn from the Eskelands:
With so many legal issues brewing in the state of California, it's hard to settle on just one. Between the ongoing drought and water shortage in California, new civil rights lawsuits and federal challenges to state laws, there's a lot to talk about. So let's get to it and see what all the headlines are about.
Voting Rights of Ex-Felons
On Tuesday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in Superior Court in Alameda County seeking declaratory injunctive relief on behalf of ex-felons that fall under new categories of low-level felons under realignment, according to KQED.
Things are heating up in California -- well, almost. Even after the flames are long gone, the Environmental Protection Agency is still fanning the fires that are the controversy surrounding Chevron's refinery blaze. And, on the eve of a new law taking effect, religious groups have joined together to challenge the law on -- of all things -- privacy grounds.
Chevron and the EPA
If you're in California then you probably remember the refinery fire that resulted in 15,000 people seeking medical treatment, according to Reuters. The latest in the fire's aftermath is a letter from Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA's Western Regional Administrator, in which he declares that the company failed to limit the risk of environmental catastrophe by "repeatedly fail[ing] to follow its own practices, plans, and recommendations."
Fresh off a defeat in a California appellate court, plaintiff James Maral, with the support of the California branch of NORML (National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws), will petition the state's high court for review of a decision that upheld the City of Live Oak's ban on cultivating marijuana for personal use.
According to California NORML, Maral, 42, suffers from compartment syndrome, a painful and life- and limb-threatening condition caused by insufficient blood flow to nerves and muscles, as well as six damaged discs in his back from work as a heavy equipment driver. He's also the caretaker for his mother, who has severe diverticulitis and Crohn's disease. Marijuana presumably helps with his pain management, allowing him to care for his mother, but the nearest dispensary is two hours away.
"The only thing I'm fighting for is the patients who just want a couple of plants in their backyard," Maral told NORML. "I'm not willing to let my mother die or live out the rest of her time in a hospital."
This may have been an interesting legal case, if it wasn't already all-but-decided by the California Supreme Court earlier this year.
The City of Live Oak passed an ordinance in 2011 that banned all cultivation of marijuana, regardless of whether the grower was doing so for personal use, medicinal use, or retail. The city did so due to fear of property damage, increased crime, the nuisance of noxious odors, the inability of the state laws to prevent recreational use, and because the city wished to comply with federal law.
And though the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215) and the Medical Marijuana Program provide exemptions from prosecution for medical marijuana-related offenses, the California Supreme Court's holding earlier this year in Inland Empire nixed any arguments the plaintiffs may have had.
California's egg law is still causing consternation in Washington, but while politicians are fighting over the farm bill, California has moved on to vaccines, booze tasting and fracking. As we get closer to January deadlines for new laws to take effect, here's a roundup of how these law are progressing.