The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla to keep a Martins Beach private. This is a significant victory for coastal access rights in the state and whether a property owner needs state permission to gate off the road. However, Khosla and his attorneys argue that the case is not about coastal access but rather interference of his private property rights. While the Coastal Commission is not an official party to the lawsuit, it is considering how to proceed and hopes that Khosla “will work with us to assure that the historical public access to Martin’s Beach remains available for present and future generations.” The State has created an account to gather donations to appraise, acquire, and maintain public access way at the beach. The State Lands Commission has suggested a public route with hours of operation, trash bins, and portable toilets.
Controversial Housing Project Approved in N. San Diego County
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved the 2,135-home Newland Sierra development along I-15 in North County. The approval came one day after a Superior Court judge refused to halt the vote due to a lawsuit of the Sierra Club and Golden Door spa. The two groups argued the way the developer was proposing to mitigate the project’s greenhouse gas emissions was likely to be ruled illegal later this year. Opponents of the project say a lawsuit challenging the decision will be filed within weeks. Opponents are also collecting signatures for a referendum in March 2020 that would ask voters to overturn the approval. The hearing also had many pro-speakers stressing the need for more housing in the County. The project calls for 1,140 single-family homes, 995 multi-family units, 81,000 square-feet of office and retail space, including a grocery store, 1,209 acres of open space, and a six-acre school site.
Report: Los Angeles Employers Grapple with High Housing Costs
The Los Angeles Business Council Institute released a report, “The Affordable Housing Crisis in Los Angeles: Impacts to LA’s Fastest Growing Industries” prepared by USC’s Dr. Gary Painter. Since the Great Recession, the employment rate has been cut down to 5.4 percent in 2017. The report found the three business segments with the fastest growing job growth are healthcare and social services; accommodation and food services; and professional, scientific, and technical services. The research team surveyed 18 employers in the three industries to explore how they were responding to the region’s high cost of living and lack of affordable housing near job centers, and how these trends impact employees. Key findings were the Professional, Scientific, and Technical services industry were more likely to reflect the high cost of living in their hiring packages while the other two industries agreed it adversely affected employees and employers in the area. The majority of employers surveyed had not taken any steps to directly assist employees with housing, and the lowest wage workers received the least housing related assistance. Some recommendations from the report include employers offering housing related assistance, organizing business leaders to support and advocate for housing at all income levels, and building bridges between private, nonprofit, and public entities to create more affordable housing.
City of Orange’s ‘The Plaza’ Named to APA ‘Great Places in America’ List
The American Planning Association released its Great Places in America, which “recognizes the neighborhoods, streets, and public spaces that make communities stronger and bring people together through good planning.” One of the 2018 Great Public Spaces winner was The Plaza in Orange, California. This area has preserved residential and commercial buildings that contribute to local character and charm; the Plaza and historic core are at the heart of a highly intact sidewalk network that connects the surrounding neighborhoods and Chapman University; the Orange Transportation Center is a three-block walk from the Plaza; and, community holiday celebrations, food festivals, and parades attract visitors.
Quick Hits & Updates
The City Manager of Lafayette, Steven Falk, announced his resignation after three decades because of differing views with residents over housing. In his resignation letter Falk wrote, “All cities — even small ones — have a responsibility to address the most significant challenges of our time: climate change, income inequality, and housing affordability. I believe that adding multifamily housing at the BART station is the best way for Lafayette to do its part, and it has therefore become increasingly difficult for me to support, advocate for, or implement policies that would thwart transit density.” In recent years, Lafayette has failed to meet about a third of its RHNA housing goals.
San Diego officials have created a 25-member working group and hire Keyser Marston Associates to analyze inclusionary housing legislation in the city to determine how aggressive the potential legislation can be without scaring of housing developers. The new law would require developers building apartment complexes to include units reserved for low-income residents. Supporters say the legislation could play a key role in solving the city’s housing crisis while critics warn that it could choke off housing construction by slashing the profit margins of developers.
UCLA’s Luskin Center released a paper titled, “People are Simply Unable to Pay the Rent: What History Tells Us About Rent Control in Los Angeles.” The report evaluates two previous moments in history when the city experienced a severe shortage of affordable housing stock: the early 1940s and late 1970s. The paper reviews the history and proposes a range of solutions such as extending the city’s rent stabilization law, modifying the “vacancy decontrol” provision, and extending just-cause eviction protection to all renters.
UCLA Transportation’s Bruin Commuter Transit Benefit program earned the Commuting Options in Public Transit award at the Association for Commuter Transportation’s 2018 International Conference. The international group received more than 80 nominations in 15 categories, which recognizes and honors outstanding achievements in transportation demand management. The UCLA program provides eligible employees and students new to public transportation with free transit pass that covers unlimited rides on Metro, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, and Culver CityBus. Almost 1,600 commuters opted out of a parking permit to take advantage of the program since its launch last summer.