Los Angeles will eliminate a controversial provision that gave city councilmembers the power to block funding for homeless housing in their respective districts. Under the current city regulations, LA has required developers seeking funding for homeless or affordable housing projects to obtain a “letter of acknowledgement” from the City Councilmember who represents the area. If the local politician declined to provide the letter, a proposed project would not get funding from the city. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law that would ban state money or tax credits from being awarded to any housing development that is restricted by such requirements. LA City Council voted 11-0 instructing the housing department to take any steps needed to eliminate the requirement for Prop HHH.
Tahoe Adopts New Planning Guidelines
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board approved changes to its development rights system and updated its shoreline plan. The development rights system changes include allowing the conversion of different development rights using environmentally neutral exchange rates. The change does not affect the overall development right cap in the Tahoe Basin but does expand the income eligibility for residential bonus units to help the “missing middle” afford a home. The Shoreline Plan involved numerous stakeholders and sets development caps and regulations for new structures, including piers, buoys, and boat ramps. The new changes also create a fee system that includes mooring registration fees, an increase in boat sticker fees, and boat rental concession fees. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
Judge Tentatively Upholds Use of Bond Funds for High Speed Rail
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Richard K. Sueyoshi tentatively ruled against opponents seeking to stop the flow of bond funds to the California High-Speed Rail project. A final decision could take three months. The case was brought by almond farmer John Tos, Kings County, and other groups that claim that the 2008 $9-billion high-speed rail bond was an unconstitutional modification of a voter-approved act. The group is arguing that the Legislature violated legal precedent that the state Constitution requires voters to approve any change in the use of bond dollars. The state argued the legislation only clarified the bond measure’s language and not the project intent.
Bay Area Housing Development Lags Behind Job Growth
MTC and ABAG released data as part of the agencies’ Vital Signs performance-monitoring initiative that shows the Bay Area’s housing stock has increased by only 14,900 units in 2017. The majority of the units are apartments or condominiums. The units is less than 30 percent of the 52,700 new jobs estimated by the California Employment Development Department to have been added in the region last year. Other findings from the report include multi-family housing accounted for 70 percent of the 21,000 units permitted by Bay Area cities in 2016. Permits for single-family homes is largely flat since 2008, with only 5,000 permits issued in the region each year. Majority of the multifamily housing projects have been in San Francisco and San Jose. These two cities have added nearly 42,000 new units since 2010.
Los Angeles Homelessless Strategy Wins $1 Million Grant from Bloomberg
The City of Los Angeles was selected a winner of Bloomberg Philanthropies U.S. Mayors Challenge, a yearlong competition that challenges city leaders to uncover and test inventive ideas to confront the toughest problems faced by cities today. LA was selected as a winner for its innovative approach to combating the city’s homelessness crisis. LA offers incentives to make it easier and cheaper for single-family homeowners to build ADUs in exchange for allowing a homeless resident to rent the unit for three years. LA won a $1 million grant that could help residents build enough ADUs for hundreds of Angelenos.
Group Sues to Block Up-Zoning around Los Angeles Light Rail
Advocacy group Fix the City is suing the City of Los Angeles in the hopes of overturning a plan that would allow the construction of up to 6,000 new apartment and condominium units within a half-mile of five Metro Expo Line stations. The group argued the city should not have approved the Expo Line density plan, part of the city’s series of “Transit Neighborhood Plans," without first assessing and fixing West LA’s “overburdened and inadequate infrastructure.” According to the lawsuit, Los Angeles officials made a binding commitment in court filings and in blueprints that governs citywide development decisions to ensure that streets, sidewalks and public services are adequate before allowing further growth.
Quick Hits & Updates
According to an arbitrator, the Golden State Warriors must pay off an estimated $40 million in remaining debt to the City of Oakland and Alameda County for renovations to Oracle Arena. A demolition and redesign of the arena two decades ago cost about $150 million to be paid over a 30 year period. Since then, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority has collected an annual payment of $7.4 million to help pay off the debt. Since the warriors are leaving for San Francisco next year, attorneys for the city and county argued the team was trying to not pay the remaining debt and both sides agreed to let an arbitrator make the final call.
According to court filings made public this week, US Department of Justice intends to sue Navy Contractor, Tetra Tech EC, accused of widespread fraud in the cleanup of San Francisco’s Hunters Point shipyard. This bolsters whistle-blower allegations of misconduct and deepens federal scrutiny of one of the city’s most ambitious redevelopment projects.
San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously rejected a proposed ordinance that would amend the city’s Planning Code to prohibit new “employee cafeterias within office space.” The legislation will now move to the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Transportation Committee with a negative recommendation from the Planning Commission. The cafeterias have been blamed for the high retail turnover on central Market Street despite the rapid growth of neighborhood companies such as Square, Uber and Twitter. The Planning Department report said cafeteria workers earn 30 percent higher wages than restaurant workers and that the 9-to-5 corporate jobs often have more predictable hours and better benefits than those in restaurants.
The San Diego City Council committed to building 1,260 transitional housing units by January 2021. Modeled after a similar program in Los Angeles last winter, San Diego’s effort calls for at least 140 units for the formerly homeless to be built in each of the city’s nine geographic council districts. Spreading the units evenly across the city aims to ensure no particular area bears an unfair share of helping solve the city’s homelessness problem.
The group Save Famosa Canyon has launched a petition to stop a proposed housing project in Point Loma Canyon in San Diego County. The San Diego Housing Commission owns a roughly five-acre area that is proposed to be developed with 78 affordable housing units. Opponents say Famosa Canyon has steep canyon walls and drainage issues that would make it almost impossible to build on.
L.A. Metro's Board of Directors approved contracts for environmental studies and engineering to extend the Eastside Gold Line light rail. The Eastside Gold Line has funding under Measure M: $3 billion for an initial extension programmed to break ground in 2029 and open in 2035 and $3 billion to break ground in 2053 and open in 2057. However, the project has been approved for potential acceleration in Metro’s 28 by 2028 initiative in time for the 2028 Olympics.
The Great Communities Collaborative, with $10 million investment from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, launched the Bay Area Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Fund as a new $40 million initiative to promote equitable transit-oriented development across the region. The initiative provides financing for the development of affordable housing, community services, fresh food markets, and other neighborhood assets near transit lines throughout the nine-county Bay Area.
According to the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s annual top 10 congested corridor list, the evening Bay Bridge commute out of San Francisco into the East Bay topped the list for the fourth year in a row. Second worst was the commute along I-80 from Hercules to the Bay Bridge toll plaza. In the South Bay, 101 southbound in the evening from Fair Oaks Avenue to Oakland Road/13th street was third worst and I-280 southbound in the evening from Foothill Expressway to Seventh Street was eighth worst.
The High-speed Rail Authority settled a lawsuit with the City of Shafter for a lawsuit the Central Valley city filed under CEQA arguing the rail authority didn't do enough to mitigate environmental or other effects on the proposed route. The rail authority did not disclose the dollar amount but will reimburse the city for up to $200,000 worth of staff time. This ends one of seven environmental lawsuits filed against the ambitious project.
The San Diego Association of Governments announced that, in an effort to meet the state’s targets on greenhouse gas emissions, agency staff recommended more than $400 million in bus projects through 2025, while also enacting policies to discourage driving such as increased parking fees and highway tolls.
Riverside County is planning to start construction in 2020 on the first piece of a new six-lane freeway that will run 16 miles from Perris to San Jacinto. That first piece is a $65 million interchange on the 215 Freeway at Placentia Avenue in Perris. Transportation officials say they received $7.1 million in state gas-tax money. The plan is to add an entrance and exit to 215, improve a frontage road, widen the existing Placentia Avenue bridge and widen Placentia between Harvill and Indian avenues.
Los Angeles Metro broke ground on a project aimed at improving bus speeds and safety for the Orange Line busway, while also preparing the line in the San Fernando Valley for a future conversion to light rail. The project will install two aerial bridges and stations as well as bike and pedestrian path grade separations at Van Nuys and Sepulveda boulevards. The goal of the project is to achieve a 20 percent reduction in bus travel times, increase ridership capacity by 39 percent and “virtually eliminate” the potential for vehicle intrusions onto the busway while improving safety.
Airbnb and the City of San Jose are teaming up to create Host Corps, a pilot program to encourage homeowners to rent their residences as free, temporary housing after natural disasters. This is the first time Airbnb is working with a city to recruit disaster hosts. The initiative is an expansion on Airbnb’s Open Homes program which was created after one Brooklyn resident offered her home for free when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement, “with floods and fires becoming all-more-frequent occurrences, we must utilize every tool available to ensure we’re prepared to house residents displaced during a disaster.”