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CP&DR News Briefs October 2, 2018: Sea Level Rise; Central SoMa Plan; Transit Funding Measure; and More

Noemi Wyss on
Oct 1, 2018
According to a new staff report released by the Coastal Commission, coastal cities should be prepared for the possibility that oceans will rise more than 10 feet by 2100. The report says, “there’s potential for rapid ice loss to result in an extreme scenario of 10.2 feet of sea level rise” by the end of the century. Earlier drafts of the guidance stated at most 6 feet by 2100. In Southern California as much as two-thirds of the beaches may be completely lost due to rising sea level. The Commission will consider approving the guidance this fall. The new guidance, if adopted, would advise municipalities to evaluate the 10-foot scenario for planning and permitting. Some agencies such as the Port of San Diego are complaining about the proposed guidance saying it has a low degree of certainty. Other cities such as San Francisco could see up to 3.4 feet of water rise by 2100.

S.F. Supervisors Advance Central SoMa Plan
San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to certify the EIR for the Central SoMa plan which would allow up to 8,550 housing units and a projected 32,500 jobs in a portion of downtown. Five groups argued the report does not adequately address worsening traffic, air quality, and earthquake safety. Supervisor Kim questioned the increased seismic risk and health impacts from development in the area. She also criticized the plan for being out of date as it was originally proposed almost a decade ago. Kim recommends the Planning Commission begin working on a supplemental EIR to account for increased housing. The Board also unanimously approved an ordinance to raise the minimum wage that for-profit contractors pay workers to $17 per hour. Three supervisors also introduced a supplemental budget proposal to increase the minimum wage for nonprofit and in-home supportive services workers to $17.

Gas Tax Opponents File Measure to Starve Transit Projects
Proponents of Prop. 6, the measure to repeal the gas tax hike, filed a new ballot measure that would prevent the state from spending gas tax funds on mass transit, such as the high-speed rail project. The proposed initiative would mandate that all gas tax revenue go to road and require all public transportation infrastructure project funded by cars sales tax to require annual audits. The initiative would also shift decision-making power on gas and car tax revenue from the state to city and county governments. These changes would go on the November ballot in 2020. Supporters say it would boost the states funds for roads from $5.2 billion to $7.5 billion as well as increasing general transit infrastructure from $1.8 billion to $7.4 billion annually.

Poll Shows Opposition to Repeals of Gas Tax, Costa-Hawkins
The Public Policy Institute of California released a statewide surveyand found a small majority of California’s likely voters oppose Prop. 6, the measure to repeal the recently enacted gas tax and vehicle registration fees. 52 percent of likely voters say they would vote no, 39 percent said yes, and 8 percent are undecided. Prop. 10 would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Among likely voters, 48 percent would vote no on the proposition, 36 percent would vote yes, and 16 percent are still undecided.

UC Davis Strikes Deal to Provide More Student Housing
In a deal between UC Davis, City of Davis, and Yolo County, the university has agreed to build enough housing to accommodate 100 percent of any new enrollment growth among students who are guaranteed housing; this would be nearly 5,200 beds by fall 2023. The university currently has about 9,818 beds and much increase to at least 15,000 by fall 2023. Shorter-term deadlines include 10,500 beds by next fall and 12,500 beds by fall 2021. UC Davis will pay the city and county $500 apiece for each bed not delivered within six months of every deadline. The University currently enrolls about 38,400 students and housing on campus is currently only guaranteed for the first year.

Quick Hits & Updates 

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted, 5-0, to order an impact report for an initiative that would require a public vote for General Plan amendments which increase density on parcels with semi-rural or rural land use designations. If approved, it would appear on the March 2020 ballot. 

The California Coastal Commission granted the City of Fort Bragg a change to its local coastal program process, which may allow the city to rezone the former Georgia Pacific lumber millsite as early as this winter. At a town hall meeting, the community development director for Fort Bragg, Marie Jones, presented the commission with what she said was a city-community-based vision for rezoning the 430 acre property. The rezoning would emphasize industrial jobs, workforce housing, and sustainable long-term growth.

The City of Millbrae has achieved one of its priority goals in developing a feasibility study for the formation of a business improvement district in downtown. The city will work with local stakeholder groups, Millbrae Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Vitality Commission, City officials, and New City America to determine if a BID is right for Millbrae.

The Orange County Transportation Authority board voted to award a contract to Walsh Construction to build the first modern streetcar in Orange County for $220.5 million. The 41.5-mile streetcar in Santa Ana and Garden Grove should start construction in late 2018. The streetcar will make 10 stops in each direction and connect the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center to Harbor Boulevard and Westminster Avenue.

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced legislation that would prohibit office space on the lower floors of Union Square buildings and allow office space in higher floors for a fee that would fund improvements in public areas. Peskin says the area is being impacted by changes to the retail market, necessitating these new regulations. The funding from the fee would go towards such projects as improving Hallidie Plaza, Powell Street Promenade, and alleyways.

The Santa Rosa City Council voted 6-0 to reduce development fees in downtown areas to spur high-rise housing development. Developers say the slashing of park and infrastructure fees makes it easier for new housing to pencil out. This is the latest step by the Council this year intended to speed up the production of multi-family housing the downtown area.

In a ruling issued earlier this month, the 4th District Court of Appeals reversed an earlier Superior Court decision that the California Coastal Commission had wrongly rejected plans to develop up to 500 hotel rooms on East Harbor Island in San Diego. The Appeals Court rejected the lower court’s reasoning that the Coastal Commission overstepped its authority by requiring the Port of San Diego to provide low-cost lodging as part of the project consideration.

The Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission voted to spend $10 million on an environmental study for a new rail line between San Joaquin Valley to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station. The commissioners also directed staff to draft a policy that would set criteria for funding projects outside the nine-county region of the Bay Area. While the environmental review was unanimously approved, several commissioners raised questions about the cost and merits of the Valley Link train service. The rail line would open for business by 2027.

Los Angeles Metro has received the go-ahead from the FTA to begin preliminary work on the third section of the Purple Line subway extension to Westwood. Metro is asking for a $1.3 billion grant from the FTA to help cover costs. The FTA had approved grants for the extension’s first two sections. Metro anticipates federal approval of the third grant in early 2019.