The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance to encourage developers to establish Transportation Demand Management (TDM) programs in many new projects citywide. The program would require developments to provide on-site amenities that support sustainable modes of transportation and reduce single-occupancy driving trips associated with new development. The program would apply to residential developments with more than 10 units, 10,000 square feet of commercial, and projects with 25,000 square feet of changes of use. This will encourage more sustainable transportation options, help manage congestion, reduce risks to pedestrians and cyclists, and improve overall efficiency of transportation network. The system works with points which can be collected from providing car-sharing service (six points), bicycles for residents (one point), or set up a shuttle service to the closest train or bus station (14 points). For instance if a developer wants to include 20 free parking spots 13 points are required under the new TDM regime.
Los Angeles to Accelerate Community Plan Updates
The Los Angeles City Council voted, 12-0, to draft an ordinance to accelerate the city’s notoriously slow planning process. One of the new rules will require the Department of City Planning to update its 35 community plans every six year. Some plans haven’t been updated in more than 15 years. Updating the plans will cost around $10 million annually and bring each document up to date by 2024. Another rule would be the allocation of necessary funds to allow the Planning Department to fulfill the obligation. Proposed by Councilmember Jose Huizar, the ordinance comes partially in response to Measure S, on the March 7 ballot, which would force the city to update community plans and impose a multitude of other restrictions on the planning process. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
$800 Million Infrastructure Financing District Approved in San Diego
The San Diego City Council unanimously approved the creation of an enhanced infrastructure financing district in Otay Mesa, a largely undeveloped area along the international border. The district would generate nearly $800 million in estimated property tax increment over the next 45 years for infrastructure projects that would accelerate economic development and job growth in Otay. The projects would include primarily freeway onramps, road widening, other transportation upgrades, but also fire stations, parks, and municipal swimming pools. Similar to redevelopment agencies, enhanced infrastructure financing districts allow a defined geographical area to keep increases in property tax that take place during the decades after the district is formed. This may be the largest EIFD to-date; the tool was created by the legislature in 2015.
Los Angeles Releases Vision Zero Plan
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation announced the release of the city’s first Vision Zero Action Plan (pdf). The plan outlines the city’s blueprint for reducing pedestrian fatalities by 20 percent by end of 2017, and eliminating traffic deaths by 2025. The plan calls out 40 priority corridors that will be focused on in 2017 to achieve the goal of 20 percent reduction. The Action Plan is organized around the following key outcomes: “to emphasize the importance of working together to achieve Vision Zero goals: Create Safe Streets for All, Develop a Culture of Safety, Adopt New Policies and Legislation to Strengthen Safety and Respond to Relevant Data” according to the LADOT press release. However, in 2016 data shows increased fatalities across all road user categories, with pedestrians rising the highest. The plan is related to the city’s Mobility Plan, which was adopted last year. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
State Republicans Question Funding for Caltrain, High Speed Rail
All 14 California Republicans in Congress have signed a letter to new Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao calling for the $647 million electrification of the Caltrain system to be put on hold until a full audit is done on the state’s High Speed Rail project. Caltrain says if federal funding is delayed, it could mean having to rebid the work already contracted out. California Democrats wrote their own letter asking for the grant to be approved, arguing that the Republicans letter misstated the fact that the rail authority and not Caltrain joint powers board sought the grant. The move is seen mainly as a swipe at High Speed Rail, which Republicans have long criticized.
Lawsuit Filed against S.F.’s Geary Bl. Bus Rapid Transit
A group of residents in San Francisco, San Franciscans for Sensible Transit, have filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court to stop Muni’s bus rapid-transit project on Geary Bl. Muni plans to develop 1.7 miles of dedicated bus lanes in the median through the Richmond District. The lawsuit says the Board of Supervisors failed to follow proper processes in approving environmental studies in an effort to rush the start of the project. The group argues the project will diminish the quality of life for Richmond District residents by removing trees, reducing parking, and replacing the median with bus lanes. The project is expected to cost $300 million and be completed in 2021.
Developer to Fund ‘Transgender District’ in Tenderloin
A San Francisco developer has agreed to a batch of conditions that will create what is considered the first ever “transgender district” in the country. Developer Group I has agreed to pay $300,000 into a fund to establish a transgender community center, to create a transgender historic and cultural district, and to support transgender-serving businesses and nonprofits in the Tenderloin neighborhood. LGBTQ activists argued the Group I hadn’t completely analyzed the historic role the block played in the city’s LGBTQ history when it proposed a 242 condominium units and 232 hotel rooms. Supervisor Jane Kim will introduce legislation to formally create transgender historic district, Compton Cafeteria Historic District, named after the 1966 riot at Gene Compton’s Cafeteria. The two-day riot was considered the first major transgender protest in the U.S.
Hunters Point Redevelopment Delayed by Faked Soil Tests
Contractors tasked with cleaning up the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard property in San Francisco have admitted to faking soil tests, which will delay the transfer of some parcels for development. FivePoint Communities is developing the shipyard into a mixed-use neighborhood with more than 12,000 units, millions of square feet of office space, and hundreds of acres of parklands. Concern over the accuracy of the soil tests were first noticed in October 2012 when results were inconsistent with previous samples in the same area. The Navy and EPA officials thought the problems had been resolved, but last year a former Tetra Tech employee revealed the soil misrepresentations were more widespread than previously assumed. The discovery of contaminated soil triggers the need for further time-consuming remediation.
SCG Updates Transformative Climate Communities Draft Guidelines
The Strategic Growth Council (SGC) has released updated “Revised Draft Scoping Guidelines for the Transformative Climate Communities Program” (pdf). Assembly Bill 2722 established the Transformative Climate Communities Program which implements and develops neighborhood-level climate community plans that include multiple, coordinated GHG emissions reduction projects that provide local economic, environmental, and health benefits to disadvantaged communities. Applicants must select six strategies to achieve the goals that support the program objectives. SGC is hosting public workshops on this document in the cities of Fresno, Los Angeles and San Bernardino and will also accept additional public comments until March 13, 2017. SGC plans to release the full Guidelines for the Program in late April of 2017.
Quick Hits & Updates
California officials have proposed a list of $100 billion in projects for possible federal funding to help rebuild the state’s infrastructure. The list of 51 priority projects includes roads, levees, bridges, ports, train and public transit systems, water storage and recycling projects, and energy, military, veterans and emergency operations facilities and services. Although there are currently feuds between President Trump and California Democrats over issues including immigration, state officials have been encouraged about his pledge to put $1 trillion into infrastructure projects nationwide.
The Strategic Growth Council has opened the public comment period for the Draft 2016-2017 Guidelines for the Sustainable Agricultural Land Conservation Program (SALC) is now available. This is in anticipation of the release of cap-and-trade auction revenues allocated to protecting California’s farmlands and reducing GHG emissions.
The Elk Grove City Council voted, 4-0, to repeal an ordinance from October that allowed Howard Hughes Corp. to sell 35 acres to the Wilton Rancheria Indian tribe for a casino. The decision eliminated the need for a costly voter referendum. The 35 acres were part of the 100 acres that was to be part of a shopping mall at the south edge of the city. Hughes Corp. argued that the casino was needed to drive traffic to the mall.
The City of Oceanside is considering a development incentive overlay for two miles of Coast Highway. The zoning overlay maps out areas for mixed-use nodes, pedestrian-friendly commercial villages, and streets for cars. This will promote revitalization and enhancement of the highway.
The Oakland Planning Commission approved a 402-unit residential tower next to BART’s MacArthur Station in North Oakland. The project was praised for its proximity to transit stops and the affordable housing units. Those opposed to the project criticize the low number of affordable units (only 45), and the height and density variances it received.
The Southern California Association of Governments approved more than $4.5 million in funding for 26 transportation and sustainability projects in Los Angeles County. These projects are among 54 throughout Southern California that were approved by the Regional Council of SCAG. These projects include Go Human Bike-Friendly Business Program in Baldwin park, El Monte and South El Monte, Vision Zero work, South El Monte Open Streets, and Active Transport/Safe Routes to Schools in Commerce to name a few. Long Beach’s “Destination Uptown” project received $250,000.
Southern California Association of Governments Regional Council approved more than $1.45 million in funding for eight active transportation and sustainability projects in San Bernardino County. The projects included pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements, climate actions plans, and integrated land-use initiatives. The Redlands Rail accessibility Plan received $200,000 and the Safe Routes to Schools program $316,373.
Los Angeles Metro is moving forward with plans for a two-pronged extension of the Gold Line’s Eastside branch. The extension would run from Atlantic Station towards the cities of El Monte and Whittier. The first leg of the extension would be constructed between 2035 and 2057, although the Metro Board hasn’t selected with route will come first.
Interim Sacramento City Manager Howard Chan has been named permanent city manager three months after he began a temporary contract. Mayor Steinberg told the Sacramento Bee: “He’s a partner and he’s respected, and our chemistry and early work together has been really good and positive.” He succeeds John Shirey, who had previously been the head of the California Redevelopment Association.