The City of Stockton City Council voted unanimously to approve the first phase of downtown’s proposed Open Window redevelopment project. The proposed project includes 15-square-blocks of mixed-use development with about 1,000 residential units, 90,000 square-feet of commercial space, and 110,000 square feet of industrial/art studio space. Last week, the City Council increase the city’s commitment of funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that is required to rebuild parts of downtown’s aging infrastructure. In 2016, the council voted to set aside $3.8 million but that number has increased to $6.18 million. The $67.5 million project is expected to break ground in 2018.
Bakersfield Park Named to APA’s ‘Great Places'
American Planning Association released its 15 “Great Places in America”. These neighborhoods, public places or streets are celebrated for being exemplary planning that results in stronger, healthier, and more just communities. Mill Creek Linear Park in Bakersfield was the only California community to be a designee. The 1.5-mile urban trail won in the “2017 Great Public Spaces” category along with four other projects nationwide. The park was originally an irrigation canal that has evolved into the center of revitalization for downtown Bakersfield. It connects several civic resources and has been credited with spurring revitalization in downtown Bakersfield. The APA writes that the park "serves as a national model for how cities and rural communities can repurpose single-use canals into a multi-use focal point for an entire community.”
San Jose Mayor Proposes 25,000 New Units, with 10,000 Downtown
San Jose Mayor Sam Licardo proposed constructing 25,000 residential units in the city over the next five years. Part of the proposal includes changing the landscape of downtown by increasing higher-density homes and more transit-oriented development. According to the mayor, half of the proposed units should be built in downtown and roughly 10,000 should be affordable units. Mayor Liccardo notes the city departments tasked with project, permit and building approvals is understaffed as well as the planning department. Several developers attended the event and said they have considerable units in the pipeline that assists the goal of the mayor’s proposal. However, director of public policy for Working Partnerships USA- a community coalition pushing for more affordable housing- says there needs to be stronger rent control policies and assurances that companies such as Google contribute to solving the housing crisis rather than just increasing housing prices. The City Council will consider the proposal during its Oct. 17 meeting. (See prior CP&DR coverage of downtown San Jose.)
SDSU to Sponsor Ballot Measure for Redevelopment of Qualcomm
San Diego State University may launch a citywide ballot initiative that would authorize the city to sell 132 of the 166 acres at the SDCCU Stadium (former Qualcomm) site to create the SDSU West Campus Research, Stadium and River Initiative. The goal is to bring the measure to voters in the June 5 primary or Nov. 6 general election next year. A competing initial, to develop SoccerCity sports complex, is scheduled to be on this November's ballot. The SDSU measure does not specifically lay out the uses for the stadium land but instead calls for the University to prepare a master plan that would be approved by the state and leaves the city and university to negotiate the fair market price, mitigation measures, and other details. However, part of the initiative calls for a new stadium of at least 35,000 seats to be built within sever years. The city had planned to close the 50-year-old stadium in 2019 to save about $12 million in annual operating costs since the Chargers have relocated to Los Angeles.
S.F. Mayor Calls for Adding 5,000 Units Annually, Hastening Entitlements
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee mandated a citywide goal of 5,000 new homes built every year. To reach this ambitious goal, Lee is asking all city agencies to cut average wait times in half to facilitate more construction. According to the U.S. Census, the city only added 2,600 new units of housing between 2015 and 2016. The year before it had added 3,500 new homes and 5,500 the previous year. The mayor’s office created a timeline for housing project approval saying buildings exempt from CEQA should take no more than six months for approval and housing that requires a full EIR should take 18 months at most. Mayor Lee mandates that 11 city agencies appoint new managers with the job of speeding up entitlements.
Visualization Tool Provides Detailed Information on Climate Change in Calif.
The California Energy Commission (CEC) announced the release of Cal-Adapt 2.0. This comprehensive climate change data visualization and download tool is developed and maintained by the UC Berkeley Geospatial Innovation Facility with funding and oversight from CEC. Cal-Adapt 2.0’s new updates and enhancements include alignment with the latest scientific research, more robust analysis of climate change impacts and risks to local communities. The program now enables access to climate change data through new public application programming interface, downloadable charts and graphs, CSV charts, GeoTIFF format, and direct access to data for all 32 models for two representative concentration pathway scenarios.
Quick Hits & Updates
The California Department of Housing and Community Development and the Strategic Growth Council have announced approximately $255 million available for Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program. Applications and required documents must be submitted by Jan. 16, 2018.
Former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson faces legal scrutiny for the second time in two years for deleting texts related to developer Paul Petrovich from his cellphone. Petrovich contends Johnson and other councilmembers colluded to deny him a fair hearing and says they erased text messages that Petrovich contends may have supported his claims that members agreed to vote against him beforehand. Johnson said his emails automatically delete after 30 days and he habitually erases texts from his personal cellphone to declutter. Two years ago, another judge reprimanded Johnson for erasing texts after being told not to by the city attorney. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
Google has backed down from its threat to not build more housing on the Charleston East campus without more office space. The tech company is planning to build 9,850 units and originally asked for more office space than the 3.6 million square feet in the draft plan. The final City Council vote is set for November for the North Bayshore plan.
The Coastal Commission is challenging the City of Los Angeles's 30-year-old beach curfew, which applies to beaches, piers and oceanfront parks. In 2015, Venice activists sued the city’s defiance of the Coastal Commission’s jurisdiction and sought to suspend the curfew enforcement. The city has now agreed to seek a permit, first from the city engineer and then the Coastal Commission, and to have police issue warnings before citing curfew violations.
In 2001, the City of Sacramento and CalPERS signed a memorandum of understanding saying the giant pension fund would build 400 housing units downtown. As of today, only 36 units have been constructed. City officials have now sent a letter contending CalPERS is out of compliance. The 36 single-family homes were supposed to be finished in 2009 and 300-unit development on R Street expected to be completed in 2012.
According to a new report from Apartmentlist, rents in San Jose rose 2.5 percent from last year to $2,050 for a one-bedroom, Oakland rose 5.4 percent to $1,780, and San Francisco rose 1.6 percent to $2,450. Across the Bay Area rents rose 1.3 percent to 6.2 percent.
Los Angeles Metro has commissioned a study of the benefits of eliminating the Claremont Metrolink commuter rail station and replacing it with a light-rail station as part of the 12.3 mile Gold Line extension, which paraells the Metrolink line. Metro has allotted nearly $1.4 billion for the Glendora-to-Montclair Gold Line and is getting underway in the next few months.
A group of Central Valley officials want to bring back Amtrak service from southern valley cities into Sacramento on the old train tracks. The service could start as soon as 2020 with at least one daily train in each direction. The cost for the project would be around $189 million, mostly for the construction of new rail platforms.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife published a draft EIR on three alternatives for the Ballona Wetlands restoration project in west Los Angeles; they include 483 acres and the mouth of the 8.8-mile creek. The three alternatives include: naturalized creek, restored partial sinuous creek, and levee culverts and oxbow. Construction would occur over five years, and the more ambitious first two alternatives would require a second phase of construction approximately one-and-a-half years after the initial construction.