9212 Report • California Elections Code Section 9212

(a) During the circulation of the petition, or before taking either action described in subdivisions (a) and (b) of Section 9214, or Section 9215, the legislative body may refer the proposed initiative measure to any city agency or agencies for a report on any or all of the following:

(1) Its fiscal impact.

(2) Its effect on the internal consistency of the city’s general and specific plans, including the housing element, the consistency between planning and zoning, and the limitations on city actions under Section 65008 of the Government Code and Chapters 4.2 (commencing with Section 65913) and 4.3 (commencing with Section 65915) of Division 1 of Title 7 of the Government Code.

(3) Its effect on the use of land, the impact on the availability and location of housing, and the ability of the city to meet its regional housing needs.

(4) Its impact on funding for infrastructure of all types, including, but not limited to, transportation, schools, parks, and open space.  The report may also discuss whether the measure would be likely to result in increased infrastructure costs or savings, including the costs of infrastructure maintenance, to current residents and businesses.

(5) Its impact on the community’s ability to attract and retain business and employment.

(6) Its impact on the uses of vacant parcels of land.

(7) Its impact on agricultural lands, open space, traffic congestion, existing business districts, and developed areas designated for revitalization.

(8) Any other matters the legislative body requests to be in the report.

(b) The report shall be presented to the legislative body within the time prescribed by the legislative body, but no later than 30 days after the elections official certifies to the legislative body the sufficiency of the petition. http://codes.findlaw.com/ca/elections-code/elec-sect-9212.html#sthash.tUMJk6Dx.dpuf

ABAG • Association of Bay Area Governments • ABAG was created by local governments to meet their planning and research needs related to land use, environmental and water resource protection, disaster resilience, energy efficiency and hazardous waste mitigation, and to provide risk management, financial services and staff training to local counties, cities and towns. Website abag.ca.gov

ADU • Accessory Dwelling Unit • An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a small or tiny house on the same property (usually in the backyard) of a larger, existing home. ADUs are known by many names: granny flats, in-law units, backyard cottages, secondary units and more. http://hcd.ca.gov/policy-research/AccessoryDwellingUnits.shtml   http://americantinyhouseassociation.org/accessory-dwelling-units/

BMR • Below Market Rate (housing) • Not the same thing as Affordable Housing!

By-right Zoning • a zoning code is considered “by-right” if the approvals process is streamlined so that projects that comply with the zoning standards receive their approval without a discretionary review process.

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CAM • Common Area Maintenance charges • Most commercial retail leases are triple net leases. The “triple” stands for (i) taxes (ii) insurance and (iii) maintenance:

  • Taxes: This is pretty straightforward, as the landlord will simply pass on to the tenant the real estate taxes proportionately based on the size of the overall property and the size of the tenant’s location.
  • Insurance: This is calculated in a similar manner based on the landlord’s insurance cost for the overall property, not the tenant’s specific insurance.
  • Maintenance: This is the big variable and is also called CAM or “common area maintenance.”

Basically, under a triple net lease, the landlord will pass through all of the expenses to maintain the property including landscaping, cleanup, snow removal and minor repairs to each tenant on a pro-rata basis. The CAM charges in a commercial lease are typically added on to base rent as additional rent (in addition to the taxes and insurance cost). This is an area fraught with danger for the unwary tenant. A landlord typically will try to pass through as much of their expenses as possible through CAM charges, and if not negotiated upfront, these expenses can grow and grow over the life of the lease.

CAM charges to be wary of are:

  • Administrative & Maintenance Fees
  • Roof Repair & Replacement
  • Capital Improvements
  • Lighting
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical Wiring
  • HVAC

Many of these charges should be considered capital expenses or general overhead of the landlord and should be excluded from CAM. https://www.spadealaw.com/blog/what-are-common-area-maintenance-charges-commercial-lease

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CEQA • California Environmental Quality Act • a statute that requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible. CEQA applies to certain activities of state and local public agencies. A public agency must comply with CEQA when it undertakes an activity defined by CEQA as a “project.” A project is an activity undertaken by a public agency or a private activity which must receive some discretionary approval (meaning that the agency has the authority to deny the requested permit or approval) from a government agency which may cause either a direct physical change in the environment or a reasonably foreseeable indirect change in the environment. Most proposals for physical development in California are subject to the provisions of CEQA, as are many governmental decisions which do not immediately result in physical development (such as adoption of a general or community plan). Every development project which requires a discretionary governmental approval will require at least some environmental review pursuant to CEQA, unless an exemption applies. http://resources.ca.gov/ceqa/more/faq.html

Completion Bond • or construction completion bond, is one of many surety bonds used as part of a building contract. A completion bond ensures that the obligor sees the project through to its completion as expressed in a contract with an obligee. Unlike performance bonds or payment bonds, completion bonds protect the creditor financing a project rather than the contractual client or principal’s suppliers.) see https://bizfluent.com/info-8504915-construction-completion-bond.html

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program • EB-5 Visa • USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) administers the EB-5 Program. Under this program, entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they:

  • Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
  • Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

This program is known as EB-5 for the name of the employment-based fifth preference visa that participants receive.

Congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program. This sets aside EB-5 visas for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth. https://www.uscis.gov/eb-5   https://blogs.wsj.com/briefly/2015/09/09/5-things-to-know-about-eb-5-real-estate-finance/

EIR • Environmental Impact Report • Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), an EIR must be prepared whenever there is substantial evidence, in light of the whole record, that a project may have a significant effect on the environment. In accordance with California case law, if the Department is presented with a fair argument that a project may have a significant effect on the environment, it shall prepare an EIR even though it may also be presented with other substantial evidence that the project will not have a significant effect.

The Notice of Preparation (NOP) is the first step in the EIR process. The purpose of the NOP is to obtain early comments on the proposed project, alternatives, and potential environmental impacts.

Under CEQA, once the decision is made to prepare an EIR, a Notice of Preparation must be sent out to responsible agencies, to every federal agency involved in approving or funding the project and to each trustee agency responsible for natural resources affected by the project. http://www.dot.ca.gov/ser/vol1/sec5/ch36eir/chap36.htm#def

FAR • floor area ratio • Floor Area Ratio is a way of expressing the relationship between the size of the lot to the floor area of the buildings on the lot. Additionally, FAR ends up kind of being another way of keeping score. The higher the FAR, generally speaking, the more intensity of use on the lot. Here’s a diagram from the code that expresses it better, in some ways, than words: https://seattleslandusecode.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/what-is-floor-area-ratio-far/

FOIA • Freedom of Information Act • Federal law regulating communication with elected officials.

FPPC • Fair Political Practices Commission • which administers the Political Reform Act.

General Plan • A General Plan serves as the “Constitution” for all future development in cities. The General Plan provides the fundamental basis for the City’s land use and development policy, and most importantly it defines the characteristics of the City through these policies. The General Plan also includes policies on city services, parks and recreation and other aspects that serve the community needs. This important document is generally updated every 20 years to define the future of the City in the next 20 years or so. The process normally involves extensive community outreach to consider the needs of both the developer community and the residential community. http://www.opr.ca.gov/planning/general-plan/

GPA • General Plan Amendment • A General Plan Amendment is the process by which developers are granted exceptions (violations) to the General Plan. In Cupertino, the City invites developers to submit their projects requiring GPAs twice a year (roughly February and August). Typical amendments include asking for build taller than allowed, or to allow land use not designated for the site (a site zoned for retail only asking to build housing. For details on Cupertino’s process, see http://www.cupertino.org/our-city/departments/community-development/planning/major-projects/general-plan-amendment-authorization

HCD • (California Department of) Housing and Community Development Mission statement (from hcd.ca.gov) : Provide leadership, policies and programs to preserve and expand safe and affordable housing opportunities and promote strong communities for all Californians

incubator space • Office, industrial, or high-tech space usually owned or managed by a local government development board and intended to provide an economical and supportive environment for new business start-ups.The rental rates are usually below market,there is some sharing of services and amenities, and mentoring services are provided.The new business is usually kicked out of the nest after it reaches a certain volume of business or after it achieves a previously approved and agreed upon business plan. http://financial-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/incubator+space

A business incubator is a company that helps new and startup companies to develop by providing services such as management training or office space.[1] The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) defines business incubators as a catalyst tool for either regional or national economic development. NBIA categorizes their members’ incubators by the following five incubator types: academic institutions; non-profit development corporations; for-profit property development ventures; venture capital firms, and combination of the above.[2]

Business incubators differ from research and technology parks in their dedication to startup and early-stage companies. Research and technology parks, on the other hand, tend to be large-scale projects that house everything from corporate, government or university labs to very small companies. Most research and technology parks do not offer business assistance services, which are the hallmark of a business incubation program. However, many research and technology parks house incubation programs.[3]   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_incubator

Initiative • Citizens draft a proposed law

  • Indirect initiative – Citizens draft a proposed law and present it to the legislature. The legislature may adopt it outright. Otherwise, the proposal goes on the ballot, sometimes with a counterproposal designed by the legislature.
  • Direct initiative – Citizens draft a proposed law and it goes on the ballot http://www.ncid.us/initiative_referendum

LAFCO • Local Agency Formation Commission • of Santa Clara County • LAFCO is an independent agency with countywide jurisdiction, created by the State Legislature to encourage orderly boundaries, discourage urban sprawl, preserve agricultural lands and open space, and ensure efficient delivery of services. http://www.santaclaralafco.org/about-lafco/faq#q1

Law of Unintended Consequences • In the social sciences, unintended consequences (sometimes unanticipated consequences or unforeseen consequences) are outcomes that are not the ones foreseen and intended by a purposeful action. The term was popularized in the twentieth century by American sociologist Robert K. Merton.[1]

Unintended consequences can be grouped into three types:

  • Unexpected benefit: A positive unexpected benefit (also referred to as luckserendipity or a windfall).
  • Unexpected drawback: An unexpected detriment occurring in addition to the desired effect of the policy (e.g., while irrigation schemes provide people with water for agriculture, they can increase waterborne diseases that have devastating health effects, such as schistosomiasis).
  • Perverse result: A perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended (when an intended solution makes a problem worse). This is sometimes referred to as ‘backfire’.

Robert K. Merton listed five possible causes of unanticipated consequences in 1936:[13]

  1. Ignorance, making it impossible to anticipate everything, thereby leading to incomplete analysis
  2. Errors in analysis of the problem or following habits that worked in the past but may not apply to the current situation
  3. Immediate interests overriding long-term interests
  4. Basic values which may require or prohibit certain actions even if the long-term result might be unfavorable (these long-term consequences may eventually cause changes in basic values)
  5. Self-defeating prophecy, or, the fear of some consequence which drives people to find solutions before the problem occurs, thus the non-occurrence of the problem is not anticipated Wikipedia.org/wiki/Unintended_consequences

LUTE • The Land Use and Transportation Element • of the Sunnyvale General Plan, otherwise known as LUTE, addresses how much and where various categories of land use such as housing, industrial and commercial can be placed in the city. The council signed off April 11 on the updated plan with a 6-1 vote.

McMansion • “McMansions became the ultimate symbol of living beyond one’s means. Unlike your standard mansion, McMansions aren’t just large — they are tackily so. Looming over too-small lots, these cookie-cutter houses are often decked out with ersatz details, like chandeliers and foam-filled columns. While their features mean they can command a decent price, many of these houses are shoddily built.” – The ultimate symbol of the pre-recession boom is back, Washington Post, June 29, 2017

Privatized gains, socialized losses • A phrase describing how businesses and individuals can successfully benefit from any and all profits related to their line of business, but avoid losses by having those losses paid for by society. Privatizing profits and socializing losses suggests that when large losses occur for speculators or businesses, they are able to successfully lobby government for aide rather than face the consequences of said losses.

The biggest example of privatizing losses and socializing losses came during the TARP bailouts of 2008-2009 in which the United States government bailed out numerous banks, insurers and auto manufacturers after they had sustained huge losses in their business dealings, in some cases through unacceptable risk tasking and lack of due diligencehttp://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/privatizing-profits-and-socializing-losses.asp#ixzz4XIyWeYqC

PRA • Public Records Act • California law regulating communication with elected officials

Preemption • a legal concept based on a state’s constitutional authority to create cities, allows a state law to supersede a conflicting local law. Preemption jumped into the national spotlight in 2016 after years of increased friction between cities and states. These tensions are due in part to a common partisan divide: Democrats tend to control large cities, while Republicans tend to control state governments.

Recusal • “Recusal” or to “recuse” oneself means to remove oneself from participation in a decision so as avoid a conflict of interest.

No member should vote on a question in which he has a direct personal or pecuniary interest not common to other members of the organization. For example, if a motion proposes that the organization enter into a contract with a commercial firm of which a member of the organization is an officer and from which contract he would derive personal pecuniary profit, the member should abstain from voting on the motion. (Robert’s Rules, 11th ed., p. 407.)

Recusal normally occurs when a director has a conflict of interest or prejudice concerning a particular matter. A conflict of interest is any situation in which financial or other personal considerations may unduly influence the director’s judgment. This includes matters such as a disciplinary action against the director for violating the CC&Rs or voting on a potential contract with a company owned by a close relative of the director.

Leave the Room. In each case, the director has a personal interest in the outcome of the vote–an interest not shared by other directors. In such instances, the interested director should leave the meeting room so the remaining directors can freely discuss and vote on the issue. (California’s Fair Political Practices Act, Calif. Code of Reg. §18702.5.) Once the vote is taken, the recused director may return to the meeting.

If the interested director were to stay in the meeting, his presence could inhibit the board’s discussion and influence the vote. To avoid liability, a conflicted director must remove himself from the process of conferring and voting on matters in which he has a personal interest.

…the disqualified member’s mere presence, or knowledge thereafter, might also subtly influence the decisions of other council members who must maintain an ongoing relationship with him. … The attorney, as well as the other council members, might not feel as free to disclose everything necessary when a “biased” public official were present. The council members and attorney might feel similarly inhibited where they are aware that a “biased” council member can later obtain a tape recording of the attorney-council discussion. The town might thus be denied effective assistance of counsel. (Hamilton v. Los Gatos.)

Refuses to Leave. If the interested director does not leave voluntarily, the board can ask him to leave. If he refuses to leave, the board can adjourn the meeting to another location where they can hold the discussion and vote without interference by the interested director. Under those circumstances, the board might also consider a vote of censure against the director for his refusal to recuse himself.

Other. For more information on the importance of avoiding ethics conflicts, see Ethics v. Carriganhttp://www.davis-stirling.com/Main-Index/Recusal-Defined


  • The legislature refers a piece of legislation to the people to either approve or reject it by vote.
  • Compulsory referendum – Typically new constitutions must be submitted to the people for approval before they are considered ratified. Some states also require that bond measures be approved by referendum.
  • Voluntary referendum – The legislature may, at their option, refer a piece of legislation to the people.
  • Popular referendum – The people may challenge a law recently passed by the legislature. If enough signatures are gathered, the law will be put to a vote by the people who may vote to nullify the law. http://www.ncid.us/initiative_referendum

REIT • Real Estate Investment Trust • A REIT is a type of security that invests in real estate through property or mortgages and often trades on major exchanges like a stock. REITs provide investors with an extremely liquid stake in real estate. They receive special tax considerations and typically offer high dividend yields.

REITs, an investment vehicle for real estate that is com

parable to a mutual fund, allowing both small and large investors to acquire ownership in real estate ventures, own and in some cases operate commercial properties such as apartment complexes, hospitals, office buildings, timber land, warehouses, hotels and shopping malls.

All REITs must have at least 100 shareholders, no five of whom can hold more than 50% of shares between them. At least 75% of a REIT’s assets must be invested in real estate, cash or U.S. Treasurys; 75% of gross income must be derived from real estate.

REITs are required by law to maintain dividend payout ratios of at least 90%, making them a favorite for income-seeking investors. REITs can deduct these dividends and avoid most or all tax liabilities, though investors still pay income tax on the payouts they receive. Many REITs have dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs​), allowing returns to compound over time. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/reit.asp

RHNA • Regional Housing Need Allocation • State law recognizes the vital role local governments play in the supply and affordability of housing. Each local government in California is required to adopt a Housing Element as part of its General Plan that shows how the community plans to meet the existing and projected housing needs of people at all income levels. https://abag.ca.gov/planning/housingneeds/

SB 35 • Governor Brown signed new housing legislation, including Senate Bill 35 (SB 35), on September 29, 2017. SB 35 changed the local review process for certain development projects by establishing a streamlined, ministerial review and approval process if they meet objective planning standards.

SCCROV • Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters • If you live in Santa Clara County, the SCCROV is your resource for all things voting and election related. On their website, you can find information about election results, find your polling place, sign up to vote by mail (or track your mailed ballot), look up your voter registration, your districts, view candidates and measures, and more. https://www.sccgov.org/sites/rov/Pages/Registrar-of-Voters.aspx

Setback • A distance from a curb, property line, or structure within which building is prohibited. Setbacks are building restrictions imposed on property owners. Local governments create setbacks through ordinances and Building Codes, usually for reasons of public policy such as safety, privacy, and environmental protection. Setbacks prevent landowners from crowding the property of others, allow for the safe placement of pipelines, and help to preserve wetlands. Setbacks form boundaries by establishing an exact distance from a fixed point, such as a property line or an adjacent structure, within which building is prohibited.

Smart Growth • focuses attention on spatial patterns of development that concentrate physical growth in designated development centers and minimize the travel required (especially by car) between routine origins and destinations (home, work, shopping).

Multiple benefits have been associated with Smart Growth.  These range from reduced pressure for farmland conversion to lower required overall spending on public infrastructure.  Perhaps Smart Growth’s most attractive promise is that it can increase the mix of available and affordable housing and transportation choices while helping to foster a strong “sense of place” and high quality of life.

Ten common Smart Growth Principles have been concisely identified by the national Smart Growth Network as:

  1. Mix land uses
  2. Take advantage of compact building design
  3. Create a range of housing opportunities and choices
  4. Create walkable neighborhoods
  5. Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place
  6. Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas
  7. Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities
  8. Provide a variety of transportation choices
  9. Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective
  10. Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions

Suburbanists • support growth that encourages home ownership and long-term residency; increased support for public schools and recreational services; and site density limits, including building heights of 30 feet or less in most residential areas and 45 feet or less in most commercial areas. See also Urbanists

Upzoning • A change in the zoning classification of a property from one of lower use to one that is of higher use; for example, a change from residential to commercial use.  http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/upzoning

Downzoning • Assign (land or property) to a zoning grade under which the permitted density of housing and development is reduced.

Urbanists • support growth that maximizes the property owner’s return on investment for the site, no matter the needs or interests of the wider community. Urbanists regard zoning and density limits as starting points for negotiation, not as regulations that must be followed. See also Suburbanists

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