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CP&DR News Briefs, March 7, 2016: S.F. Density Bonus Moves Forward; Davis Considers 'Innovation Districts; and More

Noemi Wyss on
Mar 7, 2016

The San Francisco Planning Commission voted to allow developers to build taller buildings in exchange for including extra affordable housing only on 215 identified "soft sites" or on properties with less than five percent of parcel covered such as gas stations and parking lots. The density bonus plan, proposed by Mayor Ed Lee, would allow an extra two stories or 25 feet in exchange for 30 percent of the building being below-market-rate housing. Buildings that are 100 percent affordable can build an additional three floors. This will hopefully add an additional 16,000 housing units in the next twenty years. Supervisor Katy Tang told SF Gate"This is a much better piece of legislation" than earlier drafts or the state bonus law, she said. "This represents San Francisco values."

Davis Citizens May Vote on 'Innovation Districts'
The City of Davis is planning "innovation districts" designed to promote the city's economy and encourage the city's college students to remain after graduation. David Mayor Dan Wolk aid the city suffers from "intellectual and economic leakage". Two proposed projects, Nishi Gateway and Mace Ranch Innovation Park, are under discussion.  The 47-acre Nishi proposal would create 325,000 square feet of space for local startups and 650 higher-density residential units. The City Council recently approved a ballot measure asking citizens to vote on Nishi Gateway in June; city ordinance requires a vote on projects that would replace agricultural land. Mace Ranch would be 200-plus acres and is undergoing environmental review before potentially going on the November ballot. Before Nishi Gateway can be built two traffic projects must be completed: realigning freeway ramps and a new road to campus from the proposed site. In 2005 and 2009 Davis residence rejected two new residential projects.

APA Seeks 'Greatest Places in California'

 The American Planning Association accepting for nominations for Greatest Places in California. These places are "memorable to the community and individuals and creates a strong sense of place". Places include vistas, corridors, centers, preserves, and others. These places must have multi-modal transportation, sustainable design, safe environment, visually interesting, and contribute to a resident's day-to-day quality of living. These places should be unique or special and potentially help preserve the natural environment. The website is currently accepting submissions.

 
San Jose Passes Mobile Home Protections
The City Council of San Jose voted unanimously to preserve the city's remaining mobile home parks, which have been targeted for redevelopment. The vote comes after a decision last August, to impose a moratorium on mobile home park closures while the 1986 ordinance to regulate mobile home park closures was updated. The new ordinance includes three major provisions: First , the City Council is the only decision-making body on any park closures or conversions; second, the city must ensure that displaced residents receive proper relocation money; third, the city is extending the moratorium on conversions or zoning changes for six month. San Jose has some of the state's most expensive housing as well as the state's highest population of mobile home residents, with nearly 35,000 in 59 parks across the city.
 
Groups Promote Fracking Ban in Monterey County
Environmental groups are promoting a ballot measure to ban fracking and new oil drilling in Monterey County. Similar bans are in place in Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Mendocino counties. Supporters of the measure say it is to reduce risk of groundwater pollution and have until early May to collect 7,391 signatures. Those against say the proponents want to end California oil production, which will require importing foreign oil. There have been numerous proposals: Sierra Club wants to ban fracking in Santa Clara County, Santa Barbara County voters rejected a ban in 2014, and Monterey County supervisors voted 3-2 against a ban last year. Monterey County is the fourth largest oil-producing county with nearly 1,200 wells, supporting 1,941 jobs and generating $138 million in state and local taxes.
 
Santa Monica Looks to Vision Zero
Joining the global Vision Zero movement, The City of Santa Monica aims to have zero pedestrian injuries and fatalities through an ambitious 265-page plan that was unanimously approved by city council. The plan discusses the concept of "8 to 80" in which streets are made safer for the very young and elderly and therefore safest for everyone. There was community outreach, survey with 600 participants and forums. The planners looked at where large pedestrians were, location of assisted living facilities and where wide sidewalks and lower speed limits are located. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)

Fresno Approves Stadium-Adjacent Redevelopment
The Fresno City Council approved a new downtown redevelopment project designed to complement the Fresno Grizziles minor league baseball stadium, Chuckchansi Park. The $15 million South Stadium Project development was approved, 6-0. The city has agreed to donate the land, which is currently occupied by the Fulton Mall. The mall has been slated for closure. The mall land will only be transferred once the developers Mehmet Noyan and Terance Frazier have secured full funding
 
Gold Line Light Rail Extends to Azusa
LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority celebrated the opening of the Gold Line Extension Project last March 5. The 11.5 mile light-rail line will connect Pasadena to Azusa going through Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte/City of Hope, Irwindale, and Azusa Pacific University/Citrus College; it extends the first phase of the Gold Line, which runs from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena. The extension includes six new stations with intermodal park and ride facilities: 1,500 parking spaces, connections to local bus lines and bicycle parking. The extension was funded through Measure R sales tax.
 
New Website to Aid Historic Preservation in Eureka
The Eureka Historical Preservation Commission received a state grant to build a website that comes online in May. Planners are asking for photographs or other information about the architecturally or historically significant buildings in the area. The website will be a user-friendly map with these buildings and information. Eureka is known for its many Victorian buildings from the late 1800s. Assistant Planner Robert Jensen hopes this will provide a push for property owners to restore historic buildings.