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CP&DR News Briefs June 19, 2017: CARB GHG Targets; Google in Downtown San Jose; BART TOD Guidelines; and More

Noemi Wyss on
Jun 19, 2017
The California Air Resources Board released its Draft Staff Report on the Proposed Update to the Senate Bill 375 Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Targets and the Draft Environmental Analysis prepared for the Proposed Targets Update. CARB’s proposed targets would result in an additional reduction of GHG emissions of over 10 million metric tons of CO2 per year in 2035 compared to the current targets. For the 2020 Target, the four big MPOs are divided in their achievement of the adopted goal. MTC/ABAG has a goal of 10 percent reduction but is currently only at 7 percent. SACOG is meeting its 7 percent reduction goal. SANDAG has a goal of 15 percent reduction but in 2010 only had a 7 percent reduction. SCAG has is meeting its 8 percent goal. CARB is looking for comments on the Draft Staff Report and Draft EA until July 28, 2017.

TCC Draft Scoping Guidelines Available for Comment
The third revision of the Draft Scoping Guidelines for the Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) Program is being made available for public comment. Written comments are due to SGC by 5 p.m. on June 27, 2017. This new draft does not represent the full proposed guidelines for the Program. In February, the SGC convened a Stakeholder Summit on the TCC Program in Sacramento to launch the public process for receiving input on the second revision of the Draft Scoping Guidelines. Written public comments were submitted to the SGC by March 13. Revisions have been made to provide greater clarity on the SGC’s vision for the program and to reflect public comments that were received. This June 2017 release presents a revised draft program framework that includes updated eligibility requirements, redefined strategies and other requirements applicants must meet for implementation and planning grants. Updates have been made to the proposed application process, and sections have been added to reflect scoring criteria, grant administration, and technical assistance and support. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
Google Eyes Massive Mixed-Use Development in Downtown San Jose
Google is in talks with the City of San Jose about developing a 245-acre tech campus downtown near the Diridon rail station and SAP Center on city-owned land. The city council will vote today on whether to extend exclusive negotiating rights to the tech giant. The new campus would accommodate up to 20,000 jobs and transform the area into a transit-oriented tech village. The proposed village would build more than 6 million square feet of office and research space. The city currently has about 10 million square feet of offices, so an additional 6 million would be a huge addition. Many local businesses in the area are worried about being displaced by the project. Two groups of property investors have been purchasing properties surrounding Diridon Station and have currently spent a combined $124 million. The city has been long discussed more intensive development around the station, in part because it will serve as a hub for California High Speed Rail. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement, “Based on our conversations with Google, we share a collective vision for the future of this space, a vision of urban design that will invite the public into the station.”

BART Releases Transit-Oriented Development Guidelines
Bay Area Rapid Transit recently released its Transit-Oriented Development Guidelines, which would create greater clarification for BART’s expectations about development around its heavy rail stations. This guidelines, developed pursuant to a policy adopted by BART in June 2016 and performance targets adopted in December, are expected to assist partner cities developing transit-supportive station area plans, developers interested in building on BART properties, community-members wanting to understand how they can get involved, and others wondering about future intentions for properties. The goals include complete communities, sustainable communities strategy, increased ridership, value creation and value capture, transportation choice, and development of up to 7,000 affordable housing units by 2040.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Drop While Economy Grows
The California Air Resources Board released a report showing that the state has achieved significant GHG emissions reductions while also posting its strongest economic growth since 2005. At this rate, the state is on track to achieve its 2020 emission reduction goals. The 2015 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory found emissions fell by 1.5 million metric tons in 2015 compared with 2014, which is the equivalent of removing 300,000 vehicles from the road for a year. Additionally, in the last seven years, California has created 2.3 million new jobs, cut its unemployment rate in half, eliminated a $27 billion budget deficit and has seen its credit raising rise to the highest level in more than a decade. The diverging numbers are encouraging, as economic growth typically correlates with greater GHG emissions and suggested that policies like AB 32 and SB 375 may be having their desired effect. CARB is now developing a 2030 Scoping Plan to guide GHG reductions beyond 2020.

Groups Form Coalition to Address Housing in San Diego
In response to San Diego’s housing crisis, affordable housing advocates, community-based organizations, labor unions and environmentalists have formed the Build Better San Diego coalition. This housing coalition is focused on the struggle of rising housing costs, tenant displacement, substandard quality stock, longer commutes, poverty-wage jobs, and flat family incomes. The group argues that the “housing affordability” is a mantra that some use to take advantage of the situation to build dense, unaffordable homes without regard for community impacts. Throughout the state there are coalitions and measures based to address the housing crisis. The San Diego group has eight guiding principles that seek to address jobs, housing, natural resource protection, solve homelessness, commutes, displacement and tenant protections.

Sacamento Streetcar Gets Boost on Eve of Vote by Businesses 
The Sacramento Regional Transit bus and rail agency board recently agreed to put $25 million towards the Sacramento streetcar effort in advance of a planned vote by local businesses on whether to tax themselves to support the line. The money would be part of a $100 million pot of local and state funds that would hopefully be matched by a $100 million federal grant to cover the $200 million project. The money SacRT pledged comes from the agency’s hare of the high speed rail bond fund. While this financial assistance was critical in keeping the project alive, it does not assure the project will happen. In the next weeks, 300 major downtown businesses will vote on whether to tax themselves at least $50 million over the next 25 years to pay for some of the streetcar’s operating costs.

Los Angeles Revives Hollywood Community Plan
City of Los Angeles Planning Department released a draft of the updated Hollywood Community Plan and accompanying environmental impact report, nearly four years after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge threw out a prior version of the plan. The revised plan calls for high-density development near the major transit corridors and Red Line subway stations. A major change from the previous draft is an increased focus on historic preservation and protections of single-family neighborhoods. The previous plan was overturned primarily because of faulty growth forecasts. In this plan Hollywood’s residential population is expected to grow from 206,000 to 226,000 by 2040 and employment from 101,000 to 119,000. The previous plan had been adopted by the city but ran into CEQA lawsuits filed by local activists. 

QUICK HITS & UPDATES
AHSC program staff across the Strategic Growth Council, Department of Housing and Community Development, and Air Resources Board released the 2016-2017 Final Draft AHSC Program Guidelines, which incorporate feedback obtained through public comments and workshops held in April 2017 on the initial draft guidelines. AHSC 16-17 Guidelines Final Draft will be considered for adoption at the July 17 2017 Strategic Growth Council meeting. The release of a 2016-2017 AHSC NOFA and application are expected to occur October 2 2017. 

A new report from AT Kearney lists San Francisco and Los Angeles numbers 1 and 25, respectively, on its recent list of 25 cities to “keep an eye on in the coming years.” Los Angeles continues to be a center for business and technology, and is home to several tech giants; however, it fell four spots from the 2016-2017 rankings. San Francisco has consistently been at the top of the list because of its strength in innovation. 

Scientists have found that the effects of rising sea levels on coastal flooding may be even worse than previously thought. Researchers say a 10- to 20-centimeter sea-level rise, which is expected by 2050, will double the frequency of serious flooding events in many parts of the globe, including the California coastline. Estimates of ocean’s effect on coastal erosion, environment and human communities have taken into account storm surge and tidal fluctuations, but frequently left out waves. In California, much of the flooding is dominated by wave-driven events, which is why El Niño with its extremely large waves has such extreme effects on coastal erosion.

The City of Los Angeles unveiled draft rules for proposed regulations on how and where marijuana businesses can operate within city limits. They would be limited to commercial and industrial zone, barred from opening within 800 feet of one another, as well as within 800 feet of schools, public libraries, parks, and drug and alcohol treatment facilities. All in all, the city’s proposed rules “allow for a fairly free and open market… to have a real economic engine here in Southern California,” said Matt Stang chief revenue officer for the cannabis media and event company High Times.

The Inglewood City Council will vote on an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Los Angeles Clipper to build an arena for the team. The agreement will run for 36 months with the option of a six-month extension for the team to complete environmental reviews. The city will receive a nonrefundable deposit of $1.5 million. The Rams and Chargers $2.6 billion stadium is currently being constructed across from the proposed’ arena.

The Seal Beach Planning Commission voted to send a recommendation to the City Council to adopt a “reduced intensity” version of Southeast Area Specific Plan (SEASP). Of the almost 1,500 acres, about 86 percent would see significant changes to current land use and allowable building heights. Environmental advocates and nearby residents are unhappy with SEASP saying it does not represent community wishes. The original 1977 planning document capped development and population density to maintain a coastal village feel and protect the wetlands.

Los Angeles County released a draft transit oriented specific plan, Connect Southwest L.A., that would include 1,000 residential units and 1.7 million square feet of commercial around Metro’s Vermont/Athens Station near downtown Los Angeles. The plan also includes infrastructure upgrades.
The City of Long Beach has released its Midtown Specific Plan for 369-acres along Long Beach Boulevard corridor. The plan includes walkability measure, improved mobility options for bicycles and transit riders, and new development and housing opportunities along the corridor. The California Association of Environmental Planners (AEP) awarded the plan’s vision and contributions with an Outstanding Planning Document award. This is awarded to a document that best accommodates projected population growth to protect California’s environmental resources, minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and provide urban recreation and natural open space. 

The City of Huntington Beach Planning Commission will review a draft of the general plan update, which will guide the city through 2040. The city’s general plan hasn’t been comprehensively updated since 1996. The update will be reviewed multiple times by the commission and council over the next several months. Planning consulting firm Michael Baker International is assisting the city with the update.

The Del Mar Alliance for the Preservation of Beach Access and Village is suing the city for its ban on short-term rental housing saying it violates CEQA and the Coastal Act. The group alleges the ban is a “project” because it has significant adverse impacts, however the city did not perform any environmental reviews of its potential impacts. Additionally, the LCP does not include the ban. The Coastal Commission sent Del Mar and other coastal cities a letter saying, “the regulation of short-term/vacation rentals represents a change in the intensity of use and of access to the shoreline, and thus constitutes development to which the Coastal Act and LCPs must apply.”

Santa Barbara County Supervisors voted, 3-2, to ban short-term rentals in residentially zoned areas and small agricultural parcels, but allowed them on larger agricultural properties and areas zoned for commercial and mixed use. This ban means 92 percent of the county’s permitted STRs are illegal starting in September of next year.

San Diego City Council rejected, 5-4, a proposed special election in November for a hotel tax increase to expand the convention center and boost money for homeless programs and street repair. The five councilmembers opposed to special elections are all Democrats, and Mayor Faulconer, a Republican, has lobbied aggressively for a special election for the convention center and SoccerCity.

According to a report released by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, ride-hailing cars drive over half a million miles every day on San Francisco streets. Lyft and Uber cars make more than 170,000 trips within the city every weekday, which is 6.5 percent of total weekday vehicle miles in the city. Weekday peak times, 6:30-7pm, see 5,700 Uber and Lyft cars. The report analyzed the impact these companies have on the city’s streets.

The Third District Court of Appeal ruled against the City of Galt and upheld the lower court’s decision to block a cooperative agreement between the city and a redevelopment agency. In 2011, before the dissolution of redevelopment agencies, the City of Galt struck a $22 million deal with a redevelopment agency for multiple projects. Although the agreement went into effect before the Dissolution Law, the California Department of Finance held that the deal was unenforceable because it fell within the timeframe. The city then filed a lawsuit, but the trial court sided with DOF.

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a spending to divide the nearly $259 million projected in the first year of Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax increase. The supervisors accepted virtually all the recommendations of a 50-member planning committee. 

San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim asked Uber to tax itself voluntarily to help fund the city’s public transit system and improve its infrastructure. Kim singled out Uber as the source of congestion and the dangers for emergency vehicles. Kim’s idea loosely resembles a bill passed in Massachusetts that would charge ride-hailing companies 20 cents per ride.

SoccerCity officials have announced that they are moving forward with their plan to redevelop Qualcomm Stadium. The San Diego City Council refused to support a special election but has agreed to hear the SoccerCity backers present their plan. The special election in the fall is crucial because the MLS is announcing expansion sites by the end of the year. If a city does not have a firm commitment to build a soccer stadium, it will not be considered for a team.

The Peninsula Open Space Trust is planning to buy 1,000 acres of Coyote Valley for $80 million over the next decade. Most of the land in that area is currently zoned for tech campuses. The environmental group is hoping to create a space for wildlife to hunt and breed between the Diablo Range and the Santa Cruz Mountains. The group expects half the funds to come from individual donors, quarter from public sources such as Measure Q, and a quarter from private foundations.
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