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CP&DR News Briefs October 30, 2018: Housing Poll; Sonoma County Housing; San Diego Short-Term Rentals; and More

Noemi Wyss on
Oct 29, 2018
A new poll from USC Dornsife/ LA Times found that just 13 percent of eligible California voters believe too little home building is a primary contributor to the state’s housing crisis. Lack of rent control topped the list with 28 percent of voters. The next highest repossess included lack of funding for affordable housing (24 percent), restrictive environmental regulations (17 percent), foreign buyers (16 percent), and the influence of the tech industry (15 percent).  The poll ranked overly restrictive zoning rules as the last out of the eight options offered with just 9 percent of those surveyed. However, academic researchers, state analysts, and California’s gubernatorial candidates all agree that the fundamental issue underlying the housing crisis is that there is not enough homes. While many residents in California are dealing with the effects of the high housing costs, the poll results show that the public hasn’t rallied around a cause. USC/LA Times poll was conducted Sept. 17 to Oct. 14 and surveyed 1,180 adult residents in the state. (See CP&DR commentary.)

Sonoma County Streamlines Housing Development in Wake of Fires
Sonoma County supervisors unanimously approved a number of policy changes intended to pave the way for new types of housing, encourage the construction of smaller, more affordable units and help simplify development in certain areas destroyed by last year’s wildfires. The policy revisions only apply to urban areas where sewers are available, and allow for a so-called cottage housing, or clusters of smaller units intended for those who earn too much to qualify for low-income housing but can’t afford market-rate units. The board also changed the county’s policy for how density is assigned to each housing unit in certain zones. Now, in an area where ten units are allowed, a developer could build 10 three-bedroom units, 15 one-bedroom units, or 30 micro-units.

San Diego Reconsiders Short-Term Rental Policy
The San Diego City Council is deciding between having to rescind its August 1 vote on new regulations for short-term rentals, or ask voters to decide on the regulations within the next two years. STR platforms Airbnb and HomeAway have succeeded in gathering enough signatures to force a public vote on the matter. Under the regulations approved by the City in August, individuals would have been able to rent out their primary residences for up to six months a year if they applied for a permit and paid an annual fee of $949. Second homes would not be allowed to be listed as vacation rentals. Of the estimated 11,000 STRs in San Diego, more than one-quarter were concentrated in the beach areas of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.

UC Berkeley Weighs in on Prop. 10
UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement released a policy brief, “Proposition 10: Estimating the Scale of Expanded Rent Control in the Bay Area”.  The report concludes that Prop. 10 would make sense in the Bay Area as many more tenants could be protected from rent hikes. Key takeaways from the brief include around three-quarters of all renter households in the Bay Area are not protected from rent hikes and most also do not have protections against no-cause evictions. Approximately 41 percent of the households not protected are families with children. Prop. 10 could result in an expansion of rent control to cover tens of thousands more tenants in cities, especially those in single-family rentals.

Quick Hits & Updates 

The Port of San Diego is elevating a portion of the City of Chula Vista’s bayfront by as much as 8 feet in preparation for a $1 billion hotel and convention center. When all the soil is moved the area will be about 14 feet above sea level. This project is one of several the Port is taking to prepare for sea level rise. Others include elevating Shelter Island boat launch by two feet and building an oyster reef along Chula Vista’s shoreline to prevent erosion.

Caltrans released the Fiscal Year 2019-20 Grant Application Guides, application forms, and required templates on the Caltrans Division of Transportation Planning Grants website. The website also includes a list of grant webinars and workshop events throughout October. A total of $40 million is available for transportation planning projects including $29.5 million in Sustainable Communities Grants, $4.5 million in Strategic Partnerships Grants, and $6 million in Adaptation Planning Grants. The application deadline is Nov. 30.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor issued a stay on the approval of projects in unincorporated San Diego County until at least the end of the year if the projects rely on rules that allow developers to offset greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits out of the county. This would include large proposed developments such as Newland Sierra, Lilac Hills Ranch, and Warner Ranch in inland North County. However, the Newland Sierra project still has a hearing scheduled for Sept. 26. This ruling is a response to a complaint filed by the Sierra Club and the Golden Door Spa.

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors unanimously decided to scrap a controversial plan to sell an 82-acre property where a developer wanted to build 867 housing units. The Board decided not to appeal a July ruling from a Superior Court judge who said the county incorrectly decided the sale agreement when the developer was exempt from state environmental review requirements. Supervisors instead directed staff to offer most of the property for sale again.

San Francisco’s program to permit accessory dwelling units has resulted in just 81 new homes so far, according to the Examiner. The low number is blamed primarily on the long and complicated process applicants have had to go through and the challenges associated with fire codes of units within older buildings. A Civil Grand Jury report in July identified challenges and recommended fixes – most of which city departments have or will implement- as well as a directive from mayor Breed end of August streamlining permitting and clearing the backlog.

Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved the Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan--the first update to the plan since its adoption in 1992. David Martin, Director of Planning and Community Development says, “We have been working for more than two years with Coastal Commission staff to ensure that our updated LCP Land Use Plan will support a coastal development permit process that aligns with our sustainability and mobility goals”.

The City of Los Angeles has been announced as the winner of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge. The city will receive a support package valued at $2.5 million, which includes new team members to facilitate the development and passage of policies and resources for training, analysis, and public engagement. The Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge is a $70 million dollar program to help 20 cities accelerate local efforts to combat climate change.

According to a recent report from Attom Data Solutions, the affordability crisis in Los Angeles County has led to one of the highest net migration losses in 2017 with Riverside County has one of the highest net migration gains. The report found affordability has dropped to the lowest level in a decade.

The Department of Housing and Community Development launched a new webpage for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities. The site now includes current notice of funding availability (NOFA), previous NOFAs, lists of awards, management memos, grants and funding program forms, and training and technical assistance.

A new Public Policy Institute of California statewide survey found 48 percent of likely voters would vote no on Prop 6 to repeal the fuel taxes and vehicle fees while 41 percent would vote yes and 11 percent are undecided. When asked about traffic congestion on freeways and major roads, 66 percent say it is a big problem in their region. When read the ballot title and label of Prop 10, 60 percent of likely voters would vote no while 25 percent said yes and 15 percent are undecided. Renters are more likely than homeowners to support Prop 10 (34 percent to 22 percent).

San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a 1,575-unit housing development with parks and commercial space in India Basin after rejecting appeals of the project. The Board voted 10-1 to reject the two appeals of the EIR, which challenged the inadequacy of the document under CEQA. Approximately one-quarter of the units would be offered at below market rates.