A couple of weeks ago, the satirical newspaper The Onion reported that the City of San Francisco was looking to relocate because its current location had become too expensive. Funny though this was, I expected the follow-up story to focus on the economic development incentive package being put together to keep San Francisco where it is.
A week or so later, Gabriel Metcalfe – head of the respected San Francisco urban planning organization SPUR – published a provocative piece in CityLab blaming the city’s affordability crisis on progressive politics – especially progressive politics of the no-growth kind. Progressive San Francisco, he argued, “had a fatal, Shakespearean flaw that would prove to be its undoing: It decided early on to be against new buildings. It decided that new development, with the exception of publicly subsidized affordable housing, was not welcome.”
All up and down California – especially in the expensive coastal enclaves around San Francisco and Los Angeles – community activists have been lately decrying how the rising cost of housing is making it impossible for normal people with normal incomes to live in these towns. Yet, as Metcalf points out, most of the time these same community activists are arguing that the trend toward high housing cost must be countered with... less housing construction. Or at least less market-rate housing construction.
For many cities that have endured the painful process of dissolving their redevelopment agencies, the bloodletting has begun anew.
CP&DR News Briefs, July 27, 2015: L.A. Developments Near Faults to Face Scrutiny; Grand Jury Examines Irvine Great Park; Calif. Streets in Poor Shape; and moreBy Matthew Hose on 27 July 2015 - 10:48am
Developers in Los Angeles will face more extensive scrutiny if they decide to build near earthquake faults under new rules in Los Angeles. The Westside, the South Bay, and northeast Los Angeles will be the three main areas covered by new scrutiny under a program advanced by Mayor Eric Garcetti.
CP&DR News Briefs, July 22, 2015: Brown Pushes Delta Water Tunnels; Army Corps Approves L.A. River Plan; New National Monument; and MoreBy Matthew Hose on 20 July 2015 - 10:19pm
The state Department of Water Resources sharpened plans for the construction of two 30-mile-long tunnels on the Sacramento River, releasing hundreds of pages of documents in its environmental impact statement detailing the project’s changes from the original 2006 plan worth $15 billion.
CP&DR News Briefs, July 13, 18, 2015: Bill Would Halt High Speed Rail; Kern Co. Releases EIR on 2.8M Acres; S.F. Housing Treads WaterBy Matthew Hose on 13 July 2015 - 10:51pm
In response to escalating cost estimates for construction of California's high speed rail, two state senators have drafted a bipartisan bill to stop construction of the rail until a public revote can be taken on June 6, 2016.
Following the recommendations of its staff, the Strategic Growth Council formally approved $122 million in grants for 28 projects designed to provide affordable housing and reduce carbon emissions throughout the state.
CP&DR News Briefs June 29, 2015: 710 Tunnel Gains Support; Tribes Sue over Solar; L.A. Pursues Manufacturers; and MoreBy Matthew Hose on 29 June 2015 - 12:14pm
Plans to build a $5 billion, 6.3-mile tunnel to close the "gap" of the 710 freeway are gaining headway as both the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments recommended that project as the best option. The tunnel, which would have two lanes in either direction and would be completely underground for 4.2 miles.
CP&DR News Briefs, June 22, 2015: NEPA Suit Filed over Fracking; Chargers Slipping Away from S.D.; Santa Ana ‘Welness District,’ and MoreBy Matthew Hose on 22 June 2015 - 12:07pm
Two environmental groups have sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Secretary of the Interior for opening up 400,000 acres of public land in Southern California for fracking, which they claim violates the National Environmental Policy Act.
It turns out that two of the world's biggest proponents of smart growth are Catholic. One of them is California Governor Jerry Brown, who once studied to be a Jesuit priest and, more recently, has promoted earthly initiatives like high-speed rail, the adoption of vehicle miles traveled metrics, and the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals in the western hemisphere.
The other is the Pope.
Yesterday’s landmark ruling by the California Supreme Court upholding San Jose’s inclusionary housing ordinance was rightly hailed as a huge victory for affordable housing advocates. But the truth is that the ruling shouldn’t be viewed as a surprise. It was a very difficult case for the building industry to win – at least the way the industry’s lawyers has set the case up.
And along the way, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye plowed some very powerful ground. She hoisted Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on his own petard by quoting his opinion in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, 483 U.S. 825 (1987), to support her conclusion. And she basically invalidated a key portion of Building Industry Assn. of Central California v. City of Patterson (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 886, which struck down Patterson’s inclusionary ordinance.
Ruling for a unanimous court, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye concluded that the San Jose’s inclusionary housing ordinance is not an exaction imposed on housing developers but rather a land-use restriction no different than a zoning ordinance – or, for that matter, rent control. “This condition does not require the developer to dedicate any portion of its property to the public or to pay any money to the public. Instead, like many other land use regulations, this condition simply places a restriction on the way the developer may use its property by limiting the price for which the developer may offer some of its units for sale,” she wrote.