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CP&DR News Briefs August 28, 2017: Bay Area Housing; Mixed-Use Moratorium in Redondo; Newhall Ranch Lawsuit; and More

Aug 28, 2017
The San Francisco Bay Area’s less racially diverse cities are not being allocated their fair share of moderate- and lower-income housing, according to new research findings from the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California, Berkeley. According to the report, Unfair Shares, researchers determined that after controlling for population size, Bay Area housing allocations for moderate- and low-income residents are correlated with the sizes of the cities' white populations. As a whole, the region only permitted 28 percent, 26 percent, and 29 percent of needed moderate-income, low-income and very low-income housing units respectively between 2007 and 2014.Additionally, the researchers found that more than half the local governments in the region permitted less than 25 percent of the total housing units needed for moderate-, low-, and very low-income households between 2007 and 2014. Only 5 percent of local governments permitted between 75 and 100 percent of the moderate-, low-, and very-low income housing needed, and only 8 percent permitted more than 100 percent of what was needed. While San Leandro, Oakley and Richmond permitted more than 100 percent of very low- and low-income housing, cities like Martinez, Fairfield and parts of Napa and Solano counties permitted less than 10 percent of their allocations of very low- and low-income housing. These findings raise legal questions about a potentially disparate racial impact in the region’s housing needs allocation methodology, while elevating concerns about housing equity in other parts of California as well. The report makes two key recommendations: 1) Modify the Bay Area’s regional housing needs allocation methodology to incorporate fair housing objectives; 2) Specify additional requirements within state laws to promote racial equity within the housing allocation process that all regional councils of governments must observe. 

Redondo Beach Adopts Moratorium on Mixed-Use Developments
The City of Redondo Beach enacted a 45-day moratorium on the approvals of new mixed-use developments, with a possible two-year extension on the way. The moratorium was adopted unanimously by the city council amid public outcry that such developments were undermining the character of the coastal city in southern Los Angeles County. Mixed-use developments have cropped up along Pacific Coast Highway, one of the city’s major arteries. At its Sept. 19 meeting, the city council will consider the two-year extension; it will have to demonstrate that mixed-use developments pose a threat to public health, safety, and welfare. “Redondo does not have a housing shortage and the crisis we do have really is a traffic crisis and an on-again, off-again water crisis,” Mayor Bill Brand told the Daily Breeze. “And if we continue with a lot of this residential, soon we’ll have school overcrowding.” The city is currently updating its general plan, which is expected to include guidelines on mixed-use development. 

Newhall Ranch Hit with Lawsuit
Two environmental groups, Friends of the Santa Clara River and the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, have filed a CEQA lawsuit to block the approvals of the first phase of Newhall Ranch. The 5,500-unit phase of the controversial mega-development northwest of Los Angeles was approved last month by Los Angeles County Supervisors. The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that developer FivePoint Holdings did not fully take into account effects on plants and wildlife, Native American sites, and the watershed of the Santa Clara River. It also alleges that the environmental impact report did not account for droughts, impact on the area’s water table, or for the expansion of a nearby landfill “The Board’s finding that the project will not adversely affect health, peace, comfort or welfare of persons residing or working in the surrounding area ... or otherwise constitute a menace to the public health, safety, or general welfare, is not supported by substantial evidence in the record,” according to the complaint, as quoted in the Daily News.

Los Angeles Measure JJJ May Be Depressing Housing Construction
According to a study released by the Building Industry Association of Southern California (BIA) developers submitted only 5,117 applications for new housing construction permits in Los Angeles from March to June. The same period last year saw 9,226 permits. CEO of the BIA’s Los Angeles branch, Tim Piasky, blames expensive requirements for affordable housing mandated by Prop. JJJ, a citywide ballot measure that passed in November. When Los Angeles voters were considering the proposition, critics from Habitat for Humanity to the Los Angeles Times warned that the measure could lead to less housing constructions because of the mandate. Under the new proposition, the City Planning Department published guidelines on the percentage of affordable housing units required for new development projects. The proposition also added new labor regulations that required developers to pay a prevailing wage and require that 30 percent of construction workers on a project are LA residents and 10 percent of those “transitional workers”. As Piasky says, “not only are they not producing affordable units they aren’t producing any housing units.”

Stanford Study Backs Use of Carbon Offsets through Forest Conservation
Researchers at Stanford University have found that offsetting carbon credits through forests has environmental benefits beyond offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. In California, the program allows forest owners around the U.S. to sell carbon credits to companies required by the state to reduce emissions through its cap-and-trade market. For each additional ton of carbon dioxide the trees store, forest owners can earn about $10 in credits to sell to companies. The program has earned forest owners about $250 million and offset 25 million tons of carbon. The researchers show the program is effective because the forest owners switched from timber companies to participate in the program, and there are sustainable forest management and conservation co-benefits. 

S.F. Supervisor Seeks Help for Perilous Series of Off-Ramps
San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen is pushing for the “Hairball,” a tangle of freeway, ramps, and three streets in the Mission and Dogpatch, neighborhoods to be made safer and more attractive. Ronen’s first choice is to put a chunk of the freeway underground. Some members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition have posted videos of themselves weaving around homeless camps that have spilled into bike lanes. Ronen says the freeway encampment is a natural result of poor urban design and that a Navigation Center should be opened in the area as a temporary solution. In July, Ronen persuaded her supervisor colleagues to set aside $220,000 to start a 25-year freeway redesign process that would include a blueprint and hiring a consultant to come up with alternatives for the Hairball and the Alemany Maze.

Quick Hits & Updates

The SANDAG Executive Committee approved the waiver of the 120-day notice provision in Gary Gallegos’s contract and accepted his resignation effective today. In addition, they placed the Chief Deputy Executive Director in charge of the agency.“Gary Gallegos’ departure from SANDAG is a big loss for our region, but his decision to step down will allow the Board to move forward with enhancing our regional mobility future,” said SANDAG Chair and County Supervisor Ron Roberts.The SANDAG Board will soon consider the next steps for the recruitment of the new Executive Director.

The City of Oakland is re-launchnig efforts to update its downtown plan. After an initial framework was announced in 2015, efforts stalled as stakeholders insisted hat the plan do more to take into account equity and social justice, including racial disparities, gentrification, and displacement. The city has hired consultants from the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Education and Environmental Design to develop a social and racial framework to apply to the plan. 

A study out of UC Riverside confirms that the shrinkage of the Salton Sea has increased the concentration of dust and other particulates in the region surrounding the lake. The study found that ten percent of the airborne pollution in the area could be traced directly to the lake. The findings are concerning as they come in advance of a significant reduction in inflows of water to the lake, with the lake expected to shrink significantly and expose lake-bottom which will, in turn, contribute to air pollution. 

On Aug. 8 the San Jose City Council approved the Stevens Creek Blvd., Winchester Blvd., and Santana Row/Valley Fair Urban Village Plans. The plans provide a policy framework to guide new job and housing growth within the Urban Village boundaries, as well as provide a framework for the characteristics of future development.
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority released detailed data on where the homeless sleep in LA County. In 2016, data showed many slept on the streets but now the trend has shifted to RVs, vans, and cars. Skid Row has 4,485 homeless people or 1,000 more than in 2016, half of these people stay in shelters. More upscale neighborhoods such as Bel-Air, Beverly Hills and Malibu saw increases in homelessness but primarily those that sleep in vehicles.
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