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CP&DR News Briefs July 10, 2018: Bay Area Housing; Los Angeles TOD; San Mateo Co. Live-Work Balance; and More

Noemi Wyss on
Jul 8, 2018
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission released a map that shows how long it would take various cities around the Bay Area to meet their 2040 housing goals if they continued building at the annualized rate they hit from 2010 to 2017. The housing goals are set by ABAG and are based on the projected distribution of growth around the region. By 2040, the population in the Bay Area is expected to rise to 9.6 million and employment to 4.7 million.  San Francisco would be 23 years behind schedule, San Jose 26 years, and Oakland 255 years to reach their 2040 goals at the current rate of building. However, some cities inland such as Gilroy, Brentwood, Dublin, and Fairfield are ahead of schedule with housing production scheduled to be completed before 2040.

Los Angeles Approves Major TOD Plan on Westside
The Los Angeles City Council adopted plans to allow taller residential and commercial buildings near five Expo Line stations on the Westside. The zoning plan represents a compromise between housing advocates and neighborhood groups who disagreed over the amount of growth that should occur along the major roads. The city will allow taller office towers, apartment buildings and developments along Olympic Boulevard, Venice Boulevard, and other main streets between Culver City and Centinela Avenue. The proposal could add 14,300 jobs, 6,000 new apartments and condos, and more pedestrian-friendly blocks along major corridors in the city. It is the first comprehensive up-zoning plan to be adopted in the city since the onset of the housing crisis in the late 2000s. 

Report Describes Jobs-Housing Imbalance in San Mateo Co.
TransForm, a nonprofit supporing transit and smart growth, and the Housing Leadership Council released a report, “Moving San Mateo County Forward: Housing and Transit at a Crossroads.” The report rejects the idea that increases in housing developments led to more, not less, congestion as workers move farther away to find affordable housing. In San Mateo County, jobs have increased at a higher rate than housing leading to more commuters spending more and more time in traffic. San Mateo County only met about half of its RHNA target between 2007 and 2014. Congestion has made commutes 80 percent longer since 2010 according to a 2017 study by the MTC. The report comes as county leaders consider a proposal to add a half-cent to the sales tax to raise transportation funds. The plan, must be approved by the county transit board and elected leaders before it goes to voters in November. Planners estimate it would raise $80 million annually. The report was funded by the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, the Hewlett Foundation and several regional community foundations.

Fair Market Rent in California Requires Average Income of $67,000
The National Low Income Housing Coalition released its 2018 “Out of Reach” report which showed residents in California have the third-highest housing wages and need to make almost $33 per hour to be able to afford a 2-bedroom rental home. A minimum of 119 hours of work are needed every week at the minimum wage to be able to afford a 2-bedroom rental home. In California, the Fair Market Rent for two-bedroom apartments is $1,699. In order to pay no more than 30 percent of income on housing, a household must make an annual salary of $67,976. The San Francisco area was ranked the most expensive area, with San Jose second, Oakland third, Santa Cruz fourth, and Santa Maria-Santa Barbara fifth.

Los Angeles Pushes for Light Rail in San Fernando Valley
Los Angeles Metro’s staff issued a recommendation to select light rail as the locally preferred alternative for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor. The proposed line would run 9.2 miles along Van Nuys Boulevard and the San Fernando railroad right-of-way, terminating at the Sylmar Metrolink Station in the north and the Orange Line busway in the south. The plans call for 14 stations with an end-to-end travel time of 31 minutes. The $1.3-billion line would be funded by the state’s SB-1 program, Measure M, and Measure R. It would be the first rail line to wholly serve the San Fernando Valley. The Metro Board of Directors will meet June 28 to discuss and potentially vote.

Quick Hits & Updates
CMG Landscape Architecture is working on the redesign of San Francisco Civic Center Plaza. The group announced its three alternative design concepts: “Public Platform” emphasizes gathering spots of varying sizes and includes grassy oval slopes. “Culture Connector” is an inclusive commons that prioritizes Ecology, Wellness and Variety with a sculpture garden and eight retail kiosks. The “Civic Sanctuary” concept is a re-imagination of the historic intentions of the plaza with an orderly layout of spaces and restoration of the fountain at U.N. Plaza.

The California Supreme Court refused to reinstate a San Francisco ordinance that requires landlords who evict their tenants to go out of the rental business to wait 10 years before rebuilding or renovating of the formerly rented units. The state appeals court rule the ordinance, enacted in December 2013, penalized property owners for exercising their rights under the state’s Ellis Act. The state’s high court denied review of the city’s appeal by a 5-1 vote, making the appellate ruling final.

Randall Winston announced he will step down as executive director of the Strategic Growth Council mid July to return to UC Berkeley for law school. The Council has nominated Dr. Louise Bedsworth, the current Deputy Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, as the new executive director.

The developer of Vallco Mall in Cupertino, less than a mile from Apple’s spaceship campus, won a key approval from the city. The Vallco Town Center project includes proposed 2,402 residential units, 400,000 square feet of retail space and 1.81 million square feet of office, qualifies for streamlined approval under SB35. The 2017 law shortens approval time to 180 days for projects that include affordable housing and meet other requirements including using union labor for construction. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)

The Orange County Transportation Authority transit committee unanimously approved staff’s recommendation to end the Central Harbor Boulevard corridor study and instead support incremental improvements to current bus service. The move comes after two of the four cities: Anaheim and Fullerton city councils opposed the streetcar option and any project that would take away a general-use lane for transit. The three options were streetcar with its own lane, streetcar in mixed traffic, and bus rapid transit with a designated lane.

According to a grand jury report recently released, Placer County is making significant strides in providing affordable housing, but more needs to be done. In 2017, Placer County Community Development Resource Agency released a business plan that made affordable housing a priority. The grand jury highlighted on problem was the in-lieu fee that developers can pay the county as an alternative to building affordable housing units. The county then uses those funds to pay for another entity to build the required units.

Supporters of ballot initiatives calling for rent control in Pasadena, Long Beach, and Inglewood did not garner enough valid signatures to qualify for the November election. Advocates in Long Beach and Pasadena missed deadlines to turn in petition signatures for the ballot. Activists in Inglewood did turn in enough signatures, but more than half were found to be invalid according to the city council.

The ballot proposition that would repeal the new Senate Bill 1 gas tax and vehicle fees will be on the November ballot. Polls show most California voters want to kill the new tax. Gov. Brown blasted the initiative to kill the tax and gave a preview of his campaign strategy.

California voters can expect two housing-related bond measures on their November ballots after the state legislature advanced a proposal to fund homeless aid. State lawmakers voted unanimously to ask residents to approve a $2 billion bond measure to house people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Lawmakers approved the money in 2016, but it has been tied up in court because of a lawsuit that argues that money comes from a source voters approved to fund mental health services, not housing.

The FEMA recovery maps for Montecito and Carpinteria Valley were dramatically expanded to include floodplains in both communities. The new maps were approved by the county Board of Supervisors with a 5-0 vote. Officials in Montecito say the owners of 184 out of 321 properties with one or more damaged structures have contacted Planning and Development for assistance with rebuilding.

Santa Clara Valley Water District is moving forward with plans to purchase key property to build the largest reservoir constructed in the Bay Area in the past 20 years. The water district’s board is scheduled to vote on an agreement to purchase 274 acres near Pachecho Pass for the project. The water district would agree to pay the Pacheco Pass Water District $200,000 for the land under a 15-year option. The district would then construct a new $969 million reservoir on, or slightly upstream from, the existing reservoir in the rugged ranch lands near Casa de Fruta.

A new study released by the USGS found that in Southern California, cliffs could recede by more than 130 feet by the year 2100 if sea levels keep rising. The erosion would be severe along major roads in Palos Verdes Peninsula and Malibu, where blocks of homes, parks and public facilities could be lost to the sea under these projections.

The Los Angeles City Council voted to designate CBS Television City a historic-cultural monument. Television City played a huge role in television history as the “first large-scale, all-new facility in the nation designed to meet the mass-production of television programming.” The 25-acre complex is an example of the International Style by architecture firm Pereira and Luckman. Now that Television City is a landmark, and planned major changes to its exterior would have to go through the city’s historic resources office. Housing advocates see the midcity site as a prime opportunity for the city to permit a significant number of units; they fear the designation could complicate or slow those efforts. 

Research from UCLA’s Institute for Transportation Studies shows Lyft has provided more equitable access in Los Angeles County than taxi drivers in the past. The study found no neighborhood in the region has been left unpenetrated by Lyft. The company’s drivers serve 99.8 percent of the population of LA County, which suggests that communities are not being systematically excluded.
A recent agreement to keep the coastline of Hollister Ranch, north of Santa Barbara, largely in accessible to the public garnered 600 comments, most of them negative. The Coastal Commission will host an informational hearing on July 13.
The Los Angeles City Council approved a hotly contested plan to overhaul a South LA shopping center by tripling its size and adding hundreds of new units. Activists fear it will push people out of black neighborhoods but supporters argue Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza needs to become a destination where people can live, work and play.
The City of San Diego took first steps towards cracking down on dockless bikes by holding a brainstorming session focused on finding problems to cluttered sidewalks, abandoned bikes and dangerous riding. The leading option includes imposing new regulations on dockless bike companies and charging fees to cover enhanced enforcement and creation of bike lanes and paths. Last month, City Council rejected an emergency ordinance that would have banned electric scooters on boardwalks in Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla.

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to press forward with a plan to set up emergency shelters for homeless people across the city. The lawmakers decided to start assessing possible sites in Koreatown, Venice, Hollywood, Harvard Heights, and the Westside. Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled the “bridge housing” plan earlier this year which allocates at least $20 million to put a temporary shelter in every council district. However, one Koreatown resident says, “We’re not opposing it just to oppose it. They didn’t give us a choice, and time to consider.” They say Councilmembers appeared to have come to the decision in the most undemocratic way. 

The cities of Anaheim, Huntington Beach, and Santa Ana have proposed new homeless shelter sites to help solve the area’s growing homeless crisis at a hearing before US District Judge David O. Carter. Santa Ana has two locations under considering for “low barrier or no barrier” shelters where any person with any background could be accepted. Anaheim officials are reviewing three sites, two of which would house up to 125 beds and a third belongs to a private property owner who has offered to convert his space for 200 beds by years end.
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