Supporters of a proposed initiative to expand the use of rent control have collected enough signatures for the November ballot. The initiative would repeal a state law that prevents local government from passing most new rent control laws. Supports, who submitted 407,760 signatures, say its success was a reflection of a widespread affordable housing problem. The campaign is expected to be one of the highest profile and most expensive in the state this year. Opponents such as the California Apartment Association, which represents landlords, has estimated it will spend upwards of $60 million. Fifteen cities across the state have some form of rent control such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti endorsed the effort saying it’s unfair that rent control doesn't cover tenants in newer buildings, while Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom opposes it and argues a Costa-Hawkins repeal is too aggressive.
Residents Sue to Block Clippers’ Arena in Inglewood
A group of residents, Uplift Inglewood Coalition, filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Inglewood to try and halt plans for a new Los Angeles Clippers arena on public land. The lawsuit seeks to make the land available for affordable housing for working class residents facing escalating housing costs. Under the terms of the California Surplus Land Act, cities planning to sell or give away public land must first seek out proposals for affordable housing construction on the site. Uplift Ingelwood says the city skipped this crucial step last year. However, City of Inglewood Mayor James Butts says the land was never viable for residential development because it lies in the LAX flight path and has been deemed “incompatible for housing”. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said he plans to honor the team’s lease to play at Staples Center through the 2024 season. The Madison Square Garden Co., which spent millions upgrading the Forum into a premier concert venue has already sued in an attempt to stop the project. Two weeks ago, Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove introduced a bill that could fast track the Clippers’ arena by limiting challenges to the development under CEQA.
PPIC Report Marks 40th Anniversary of Prop. 13
The Public Policy Institute of California commemorated the 40th anniversary of the enactment of Proposition 13 with a report assessing the measure’s legacy. PPIC found 57 percent of Californians still support Prop. 13 and thinks its turned out to be a mostly good thing for the state. Approximately 71 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats hold this view. Homeowners are more likely to feel Prop. 13 turned out to be a benefit (65 percent) versus only 50 percent of renters. In regards to the supermajority requirement, 48 percent of likely voters say the two-thirds voter requirements for raising special taxes has had a good effect on local government services while 19 percent of likely voters say it has had no effect. However, 56 percent of likely voters oppose lowering the two-thirds vote requirement for local special taxes to a 55 percent majority. A possible 2020 initiative would tax commercial properties according to their current market value but would not change the limit on residential property taxes creating a “split roll” tax system. Likely voters are unsure with 46 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed. The PPIC survey did find 61 percent of adults would vote yes on a potential ballot measure that would tax commercial properties according to their current market value and direct some of the new tax revenue to state funding for K-12 public schools. Democrats favor this proposal with 70 percent and Republicans support 32 percent. The highest level of support among likely voters was in the San Francisco Bay Area with 65 percent of likely voters in support.
Marin County Faces State’s Greatest Flooding Risk
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Marin County has the highest number of households in California vulnerable to coastal flooding. The communities at greatest risk in the county are San Rafael, Corte Madera, and Larkspur. In the worst-case scenario, possible 4,377 Marin homes are at risk of being inundated with chronic flooding by 2045. California has approximately 20,472 at-risk coastal households. San Mateo County has approximately 4,100 homes and $30 million in property tax revenue within the next three decades that are at risk. Orange County came third with 3,700 homes and $44 million in property tax revenue in danger. Marin County is one of the eight California jurisdictions who have filed civil lawsuits against fossil fuel companies.
Quick Hits & Updates
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Sharon J. Water’s tossed out the World Logistics Center environmental report saying it did not properly evaluate the possible effects on Moreno Valley. The judge’s orders also bars the city from issuing and permits or land use entitlements that would pave the way for construction to begin on the warehouse complex that would blanket 10 percent of the 51 square-mile city. However, the city and developer Highland Fairview say the project remains on track and the ruling does not spell long delays for the project. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
Los Angeles County is considering a plan to build a transportation boarding school that would offer a vocational and college-preparatory curriculum, tightly tailored to train students for jobs in the transportation industry. Officials are looking at a 4.2-acre lot in South Los Angeles that has sat vacant for 25 years. Although the proposal is in its infancy, some residents say the neighborhood needs more sit-down restaurants, grocery stores, and retail spaces- not a boarding school. The school would open as soon as the fall of 2020 with operating subsidy of $10 million from LA County. Metro is struggling to fill some jobs and has approximately 40 percent of its employees eligible for retirement today.
The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers sent a proposal to redefine “Waters of the United States” to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. The Trump administration is rewriting an Obama administration water pollution rule in a more industry-friendly way. The Water of the United States rule, defines which bodies of water are subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The Obama rule, written in 2015, clarified that small waterways such as ponds and headwaters can be protected. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
The US Navy agreed to retest the San Francisco Hunters Point Shipyard site where hundreds of new townhomes have been built. The Navy also picked companies to retest a 40-acre parcel where more development is approved. Independent contractor Battelle will oversee the retesting of the 40-acre site, Parcel G, and Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. will perform survey work under a proposal from the Navy. Soil resampling contractors have not been selected.
Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil ruled that it is not illegal for supporters of the citizen’s initiative to redevelop San Diego’s Mission Valley stadium site with the SDSU West plan to use the university’s name to garner support. Judge Wohlfeil said that referring to San Diego State University does not imply the university is spearheading the SDSU West measure or has endorsed it. The lawsuit was filed in April by supporters of SoccerCity, who are behind the rival initiative. In an emailed statement SoccerCity officials said they plan to appeal the judge’s ruling. SDSU has not taken an official position on either measure.
According to analysis from the US Geological Service 39 high-rises in San Francisco are at risk of collapse in a major earthquake. The list includes the former Bank of America building, the headquarters of PG&E, three hotels, and the Salesforce West tower. The major issue is the welding technique, which was outlawed by the city in 1994 after the Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles. The building technique welded columns and beams together to increase speed and reduce costs, but makes the buildings more flexible and at risk during an earthquake.
The West Hollywood City Council voted to ban electric shared scooters (and bicycles) in the city and rejected a proposal by staff to launch a pilot program to test ways to regulate the vehicles. The pilot program would have allowed a maximum of three companies to each locate up to 50 scooters within West Hollywood for six months. The companies would have been required to share ridership data with the city, put restrictions on hours of operation and location of scooters.
The City of Sacramento released architectural drawings from Populous for a renovated Sacramento Convention Center. The renderings show plenty of glass with a plaza-like walkway on the south side, and trees and gathering spots connecting the center to a renovated Community Center Theater. The City Council was expected to approve the project’s EIR along with designs for the convention center and theater, but staff plans to return to the council later this year with a final financing plan. Construction is scheduled to begin in December or January and would reopen late 2020.
Monterey County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to approve a settlement with a number of oil industry interests who challenge Measure Z. This is in response to a Superior Court judge’s ruling striking down most of voter-approved Measure Z, which sought to establish some of the nation’s toughest restrictions on oil and gas operations. This leaves Protect Monterey County and its legal representation with the Center for Biological Diversity alone challenging the judge’s ruling on the initiative.
Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors will consider a draft of the Vision Santa Cruz County plan based on high-level vision, mission, and value statements from thousands of County residents and hundreds of county employees through community forums, mixers, and online surveys. The six focus areas of the document are comprehensive health and safety; reliable transportation; dynamic, attainable housing; sustainable environment; and county operational excellence. The plan will guide the county through 2024.
The Oceanside City Council unanimously approved the inclusion of a Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) initiative on the November ballot. Volunteers supporting the citizen’s initiative collected more than 13,000 signatures to qualify for the general election. The initiative would require a public vote on any zoning changes for the city’s agricultural, parkland, or open space.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation updated its Urban Mobility in a Digital Age Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) that seeks to integrate autonomous vehicles and “the ongoing explosion of technology”. The update to the plan would reposition LA as an active partner in the development and deployment of electric, shared, and autonomous mobility options, including dockless bike sharing and air taxis. DOT has selected Ellis & Associates to help execute the new strategy.