In Walkscore's 2017 City and Neighborhood Ranking, a ranking of the most walkable and bikeable neighborhoods and cities in the US, Canada and Australia, San Francisco came out No. 2 with a score of 86. The top neighborhoods were Chinatown, Downtown-Union Square, and Lower Nob Hill. San Francisco also received the No. 2 slot for bike friendly cities with a score of 75 and transit friendly cities with a score of 80. There were 17 California cities evaluated and some cities like Los Angeles (67.4), Long Beach (69.9), Oakland (72) and Santa Ana (66.1) ranked relatively well. Long Beach and Oakland made 9th and 10th most walkable cities respectively. Sacramento ranked No. 8 nationwide in bikeability. Suburban California cities such as San Bernardino, Irvine, Fremont, Chula Vista, Stockton, Riverside and Bakersfield scored in the 30s and 40s, ranking them near the bottom.
Newhall Ranch Wins Key Environmental Approval
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife certified Newhall Ranch’s environmental impact report after reviewing modifications made to mitigate concerns raised by the California Supreme Court surrounding a rare fish and GHGs. The new changes from the 2015 document include offsetting 100 percent of GHG emissions the 58,000-resident development will generate by dictating all houses, commercial buildings and public facilities have solar panels and that 21,000 homes have electric vehicle charging stations with subsidies offered to purchase electric vehicles. The Newhall Ranch developers will build bridges and bank stabilization infrastructure to avoid water contact during construction to protect the rare unarmored threespine stickleback fish that lives in the Santa Clara River. The developer, FivePoint Holdings, is expecting to begin construction as early as next year. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
California Pushes Back against Threats to National Monuments
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra argued President Trump has no legal authority to revoke or modify national monuments created by previous administrations. State Atty. Gen. Becerra wrote an 11-page letter to the Interior Department stating he would take “any and all legal actions necessary” to preserve six California monuments that the Trump Administration may attempt to revoke or shrink. Trump signed an executive order in April directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review all national monuments that were created since 1996 and are larger than 100,000 acres, or were expanded without adequate public outreach. The six monuments on the list are the San Gabriel Mountains monument, Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow monuments, Giant Sequoia monument, Carrizo Plain monument, and Berryessa Snow Mountain. Monument designations prohibits oil and gas development and limits logging and grazing.
San Diego SoccerCity Proposal Goes to Nov. 2018 Ballot
A proposal to redevelop San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium into a into a $4 billion soccer stadium, commercial, retail, and parkland destination has encountered multiple complications of late. San Diego City Council members voted unanimously to send the SoccerCity proposal to voters in November 2018, instead of holding special elections this November or adopting the proposal without a public vote. Supporters of the proposal say delaying the vote sharply reduces the city’s chances of getting on of four new franchises that the MLS is planning to award. This delay means San Diego State University must regroup and decide where to build a new Aztec football stadium. The University has already terminated discussions to share and help fund the SoccerCity stadium, and therefore has no location to play past 2018. The discussion is primarily whether SDSU comes up with their own plan for Qualcomm, since it’s all up in the air until the public vote in 2018, or do they evaluate serious alternatives. Meanwhile, AusTex Oil Limited, an associated venture of SoccerCity backer FS Investors, is accused of breaching an agreement with shareholders. FS Investor principals Mike Stone and Nick Stone have minority stake in the company but are not named in the lawsuit.
Caltrans to Develop Grant Guide to SB 1 Planning Grants
The Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Division of Transportation Planning is on a fast track to develop a grant guide and launch the new Senate Bill 1, The Road Repair & Accountability Act of 2017, planning grant funds: Transportation Planning Grants ($25 million annually) provide grants to encourage local and regional planning that further state goals, including, but not limited to, the goals and best practices cited in the regional transportation plan guidelines adopted by the California Transportation Commission. Climate Change Adaptation Planning Grants ($20 million over three years) provide grants to local and regional agencies for climate change adaptation planning. Caltrans will be hosting two workshops to gather public and stakeholder input that will inform the draft grant guide development. It is envisioned that these planning grants will provide much needed funding to support regional sustainable communities strategies and ultimately achieve the State’s greenhouse gas reductions targets of 40 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 2050, respectively. the workshops take place June 26 in Los Angeles and June 27 in Sacramento.
Santa Rosa Voters Buck Rent Control Trend
In a special election this month voters rejected, on a 52.5 percent no vote, a measure to overturn the city’s rent control ordinance. The Santa Rosa City Council had passed, 4-2, a rent control ordinance in August. The California Apartment Association threatened collected enough signatures to force the council to rescind the ordinance or put it to a referendum. Measure C which would have implemented that ordinance, which would have included rent control and eviction protections, but a vigorous campaign by the Apartment Association resulted in its defeat. Santa Rosa is the fifth largest city in the Bay Area and has had median rent rise 2.8 percent over last year and 49.2 percent over the last six years. Though Santa Rosa is not in the heart of the Bay Area’s booming tech economy, supporters of rent control are concerned about speculation and housing pressures that have rippled through the Bay Area. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
QUICK HITS & UPDATES
LA Metro approved funding a long-planned $1.4 billion extension of the Gold Line light rail line in the San Gabriel Valley 11.5 miles east to Claremont via Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne and Pomona. The stops would all be in LA County, which is covered by Measure M, a countywide sales tax measure. There are plans for one more stop to Montclair, but since that is in San Bernardino County it would require separate funding.
The City of Los Angeles and its engineering team are working with seven design firms to reenvision sections of the Los Angeles River through downtown Los Angeles. The participants include Gruen Associates, WSP, CH2M, Chee Salette, Mia Lehrer + Associates, AECOM, and Tetra Tech. The teams have released preliminary conceptual images, which include river banks with open spaces, play areas, public art, new connections and development. There has not been word if any of these proposals will be built, as the designs are budget-heavy. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
The U.S. Department of Transportation released maps measuring transportation-related noise and found living near the landing and takeoff zones around Los Angeles International Airport are particularly bad. The study shows more than 97 percent of the U.S. population “has the potential to be exposed to noise from aviation and Interstate highways at levels below 50 decibels or roughly comparable to the noise level of a humming refrigerator”. Less than one-tenth of a percent of the population could potentially experience noise levels of 80 decibels or more, roughly equivalent to a garbage disposal noise.
Google is planning to build 300 modular housing units on its Bay View Campus at NASA’s Moffett Field for temporary employee accommodations. The Bay View project has been delayed for years but consists of three large office buildings about 600,000 square feet. The project to build modular units will cost between $25-30 million and be built by Factory OS of Vallejo.
The cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles have both approved programs to create urban farms, community gardens, and educational green spaces through their Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone (UAIZ) Programs. The programs incentivize property owners to use their land for agricultural uses for a minimum of five years while receiving a tax deduction.
Economic analysis conducted by the Council Economic Institute found that a new Oakland A’s stadium, whether it’s built downtown or next to the Coliseum, would bring an estimated $3.05 billion in benefits over 10 years and create about 2,000 construction jobs. The estimation is not based on a specific location, only on what the facility would generate. The A’s are expected to make a stadium announcement this year, and construction will begin within the next few years and take two years to complete. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
The City of Downey is developing plans for a transit-oriented development around its light rail commuter station off Garfield Avenue and Gardendale Street. Kimley-Horn and Associates will be conducting the study and putting together a specific plan for the area. The study will take about two years and will be funded through a $425,000 grant from Metro.
San Francisco arts officials are committed to developing Treasure Island as a major cultural destination and are releasing their “Arts Master Plan” this week to the public. The goal is to create an area similar to Governors Island in New York with contemporary artists and their followers. The Treasure Island plan includes spending nearly $50 million on artwork over a 20-year period and three large-scale sculptures.
San Diego Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a series of steps to address homelessness and the lack of affordable housing. The plan includes the creation of a $25 million affordable housing investment pool, transferring $500,000 from a neighborhood reinvestment account to the county Health and Human Services Agency to underwrite predevelopment and planning activities for affordable housing, and identifying 11 county-owned properties for residential construction.
The City of San Jose City Council approved, 10-1, an agreement to negotiate exclusively with Google to sell 16 city-owned parcels for a transit-centered Google Village. The plan includes between 6-8 million square feet of office ad other spaces in the Diridon Station area. The transit village would generate millions of dollars in tax revenue for the city and add up to 20,000 jobs.
The City of Santa Ana City Council approved financial assistance to four affordable housing projects, three on a 6-1 vote, and one on a 5-1 vote. The Santa Ana Arts Collective, 57-unit artist-focuses, received an additional $2.9 million and they had previously received more than $4.6 million from the city and state. AMCAL Multi-Housing’s First Street Apartments project, 69-units for low-income working class families, was awarded $8.5 million. Tiny Tim Plaza project, 51-units for low-income and at-risk homeless families, was awarded up to $11.7 million. Aqua Housing, 58-units of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals, was awarded 31 more project-based vouchers.