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CP&DR News Briefs May 21, 2017: AHSC Grant Guidelines Update; State Climate Adaptation Plan; S.F. Affordable Housing; and More

Noemi Wyss on
May 22, 2017
The new draft Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program Guidelines is being revised by the Strategic Growth Council with a few significant changes. They include organization and streamlining of guidelines, moving select scoring criteria to thresholds, revised application process and scoring criteria, including Indian tribes as eligible applicants, costs associated with parking are ineligible for AHSC funds, housing element compliance, environmental clearance requirements for transportation components, and joint and several liability. The drafts incorporate feedback obtained through public comments and workshops held in late 2016. SCG is considering two options for geographic allocation of grants. The drafts address concerns and recommendations from statewide AHSC stakeholders, as well as from an internal review of process and outcomes from the past two AHSC funding cycles. The Council is still discussion the question of regional funding distribution goals.

Natural Resources Agency Seeks Public Comment on Climate Adaptation Plan
The California Natural Resources Agency released a draft of the Safeguarding California Plan: 2017 Update and seeks public comment on the state’s strategy for adapting to a changing climate. The update builds on the first California Climate Adaptation Strategy in 2009. This 2017 update provides recommendations and next steps to advance adaptation in 10 sectors that include water, agriculture, public health and biodiversity. As California continues to experience rising average temperatures, shrinking mountain snowpack, warmer storms, and higher sea levels, the State must consider climate change in its planning, investment, and public outreach. The Natural Resources Agency leads California’s climate change adaptation effort under several statutes and executive orders intended to foster change throughout state and local government. The draft represents a comprehensive effort by experts across 27 state agencies to describe ongoing efforts and needed actions to ensure public safety and environmental protection as average temperatures warm, precipitation patterns change and sea levels rise. The document provides a succinct “to do” list for state departments that will help the public measure progress. Some examples: Develop a map of climate change refugia (places where local conditions persist over time) for certain wildlife species, address environmental justice issues around supporting community solar projects for low-income customers, and advance programs for “living shorelines” that may include wetland plants, aquatic vegetation, oyster reefs or sand fill. The Natural Resources Agency seeks public comment on the draft plan through May and will hold four public meetings this month to gather input from interested citizens, scientists, government officials, and other stakeholders. TheSafeguarding California Plan: 2017 Update document will be revised based on public comments, with a final version scheduled for release in July. 

San Francisco Faces Two Affordable Housing Proposals
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is considering two competing affordable housing philosophies: one would focus on keeping middle-class families in the city while the other would build more affordable housing. The group Council of Community Housing Organizations is requesting the supervisors change the way affordable housing is priced so that it would be based on the market rate of the surrounding neighborhood rather than a citywide median income. The two sides will meet before the board’s Land Use Committee with the resulting legislation going to the board. Supervisor Katy Tang is promoting an ordinance that would allow developers to build two extra floors in exchange for more affordable housing. The Board of Supervisors last week reached a compromise on how much affordable housing to require in new market-rate developments: 18 percent of rental units be affordable for all projects approved between now and January, this will increase to 19 percent next year, and 20 percent in 2019. If the developer instead choses to build the affordable units at another location, the ratios increase from 30 to 32 percent.

S.D. State University Pulls Out of Soccer Stadium at Qualcomm Site
San Diego State University ended discussions with FS Investors for a proposed joint 30,000-seat soccer near Qualcomm Stadium, which is being abandoned by the Chargers. The University said the proposal did not meet the athletic and academic needs of the campus. The proposal is part of a ballot initiative that will head to the City Council next month for a possible special election Nov. 7. Originally the university would have contributed $100 million and received the facility as a donation after five years. Without SDSU, FS Investors will revert back to a smaller 22,000 seat soccer-only stadium without the ability to double in size if SDSU later changes its mind.

L.A. Metro to Consider Two Alternatives for 710 Freeway Gap
Los Angeles Metro released a study last week recommending the development of a tunnel to close the infamous gap in the 710 Freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena. A 4.9-mile tunnel is expected to cost at least $5.4 billion and would be the longest tunnel in California for car traffic. The study recommends two double-decker tunnels, one for each direction of traffic. Metro Board of Directors Ad-Hoc Congestion, Highway and Roads Committee passed, 3-2, a motion which recommends adopting the Traffic Systems Management/Traffic Demand Management alternative which would instead upgrade local streets rather than build a tunnel. Both proposals head to the May 25 Metro board meeting for consideration. The motion requires votes by 7 of the 13 members to pass.

S.D. State University Pulls Out of Soccer Stadium at Qualcomm Site
San Diego State University ended discussions with FS Investors for a proposed joint 30,000-seat soccer near Qualcomm Stadium, which is being abandoned by the Chargers. The University said the proposal did not meet the athletic and academic needs of the campus. The proposal is part of a ballot initiative that will head to the City Council next month for a possible special election Nov. 7. Originally the university would have contributed $100 million and received the facility as a donation after five years. Without SDSU, FS Investors will revert back to a smaller 22,000 seat soccer-only stadium without the ability to double in size if SDSU later changes its mind.

Quick Hits & Updates
San Francisco is the only city in the nation where every resident lives within a 10-minute walk of a park or open space according to an analysis by the Trust for Public Land. A 10-minute walk is approximately a half-mile for the average person. The group’s annual ParkScore analysis includes the number of individual parks, overall spending and facilities upkeep.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation restoring funding to the state’s most recently incorporated cities. Eastvale, Wildomar, Menifee, and Jurupa Valley were hit hardest when VLF funds were cut in 2011. SB 130 allows these cities to receive allocations of property tax as VLF adjustment amounts that all other cities receive.

An earthquake fault has been discovered under Seaport Village in San Diego according to preliminary results from a geotechnical study. This could force a complete redesign of the redevelopment plan for the 37-year old retail center. The plan was to build a series of hotels, offices, an aquarium, maritime academy, shops and restaurants but an active fault would require major reworking of the development plan.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation celebrated the 30th anniversary of its annual “Most Endangered Places” list with a retrospective of success stories. In California, Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco and Cathedral of St. Vibiana in Los Angeles have made the list for having been successful preserved.

California regulators moved towards closing the last coastal sand mine in the United States, which has used a legal loophole to operate near Monterey Bay for decades. The 8-acre Lapis Sand Plant has for the last 27 years sucked up sand and seawater even after all other sand dredges were banned from the coast. The Coastal Commission has claimed Cemex is threatening both the surrounding dunes and hastening the southern Monterey Bay erosion. California State Lands Commission told the company they must immediately submit to state regulation.

The San Jose City Council rejected, 10-1, a policy that would have weakened tenant protections for mobile home park closures. The city is home to nearly 11,000 mobile homes in 59 parks, the largest number of any city in the state. The closure policy had a loophole that would allow a property owner to close a park without paying high relocation benefits or face as much scrutiny but sit on the land to redevelop it later.

According to a new report from the California Association of Realtors, only 29 percent of LA County households can afford to buy the county’s median-priced home of $485,800. The study also found that a minimum annual income of $99,830 was needed to make monthly payments of $2,500 on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at a 4.36 percent interest rate. In comparison, 52 percent of San Bernardino County households can afford the region’s $256,900 median-priced home but only 21 percent of Orange County households can afford the $750,000 median priced home.

In a sign of the housing crisis in the Bay Area, Stanford University paid $130.5 million for upscale apartment and retail complex in Los Altos to house faculty and staff. The complex includes 167 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail space. According to the Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office, the property’s value was calculated at $85.1 million a year ago. 

The Office of Exposition Park Management released an RFP seeking master planning services for the 160-acre expanse as new large-scale projects are being developed around the park, in South Los Angeles. This will generate the park’s first master plan since 1993. 

UC-Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies (IGS) released (pdf) a report “Displacement in San Mateo County, California: Consequences for Housing, Neighborhoods, Quality of Life, and Health.” The study found a spike in evictions in San Mateo County, disproportionately affecting people of color. The researchers did 100 in-depth phone surveys with primarily low-income tenants who received services from Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto.
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