Housing activists, including Urban Habitat and Housing California, are suing city of San Jose for a policy shift that undercuts state the Surplus Land Act, a state law designed to encourage affordable housing on public property. State law requires residential developments on public lands to include some affordable housing, but the city has given exemptions to developers building high rises downtown. The plaintiffs say these exemptions will lead to less affordable housing being constructed downtown and are seeking an injunction. City attorney Ricky Doyle says the city can make the policy changes because San Jose is a charter city and the law in question does not apply to charter cities.
Survey: Californians Still Support AB 32 GHG Reductions
Public Policy Institute of California released findings on a statewide survey on Assembly Bill 32, the decade-old law mandating reduction of GHG emissions, indicating sustained support for the state’s efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions. The telephone survey included 1,703 Californian adults from July 10-19th 2016. When asked about the law in general, 69 percent were in favor and 19 percent opposed. In response to a proposed law that would set more ambitious targets, 68 percent of adults were in favor of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Those surveyed thought actions to reduce warming would create more jobs (40 percent adults) or no effect (29 percent). A majority of Californians (55 percent) say they have never heard of the state’s cap-and-trade system, which is a key component of AB 32. PPIC finds that the drought is still the most important environmental issue facing the state (38 percent) and air pollution was second (13 percent).
Delta Tunnels Face Key Decisions; Land Surveying Can Proceed
Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed $15.5 billion water tunnels are approaching some key junctures. Public hearings this week, and, at the same time, project planners will be securing declarations from two U.S. regulatory agencies that the tunnels will not violate the Endangered Species Act. This is the most urgent hurdle and should be completed before the November election or the project could get put on hold for years. Another vital decision to be made in the next few weeks is whether the south-of-Delta water agencies, primarily responsible for paying for the tunnels, choose to be on board. The state Supreme Court last week ruled government officials do not need to go through formal eminent domain process before surveying private property for the tunnel project. The courts acknowledge the number of days set aside for a survey were “not insignificant” but that landowners would retain full possession of the property and no significant damages were anticipated.
L.A. Metro Seeks to Improve Access to Parks
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board of directors approved a “Transit to Open Spaces and Parks” motion to address equity of park access in Los Angles County. Over 50 percent of the county’s population has a “very high” or “high” park need according to a recent county assessment. The plans are expected to be completed by October and will include opportunities for transit access, funding sources, and recommendations. A SCAG 2008 Environmental Justice report found a lack of public transportation options to national parks and a “very limited” access to state parks. With Metro’s Measure M sales tax increase on the ballot for November, the county may have sufficient resources to fund park accessibility.
Major Overhaul Planned for Redondo Beach Waterfront
Redondo Beach City planning department released an EIR for new plans to develop the 36-acre waterfront village. More than 500,000 square feet of new development, developed by CenterCal, would include public market, retail and restaurants, boutique hotel, creative office space and a specialty cinema. The plans include walking and bike paths, as well as enhancements to public space in the waterfront area. Critics of the plan fear that it will diminish the distinctive character of the city’s historic pier and waterfront and turn it into a generic retail and entertainment destination.
Klamath Dam Removal May Be Approved by Year’s End
A long-awaited plan to remove and decommission four dams long the Klamath River may go before a federal agency by the end of the year. The agreement must go before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as well as get water quality permits from both California and Oregon. A nonprofit company, Klamath River Restoration Corporation, took ownership of the dams and is in charge of submitting the plans to the federal agency. The company is expecting significant litigation on accusations of secret meetings, lack of transparency and lack of authority. Other concerns include endangered species and sediment in the reservoir. A separate agreement known as the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement would ensure irrigators receive more water for their land than would be allowed.
Group Releases Online Tool for Environmentally Friendly Development
Bay Area transportation advocacy group TransForms has released GreenTRIP Connect, a website that helps users calculate “how smart location, affordable homes and traffic reduction strategies can reduce driving and GHG emissions from residential development”. The site is designed as a tool for community members, city officials and developers. The goal is to help communities provide more affordable homes and transportation while evaluating impacts on traffic and air pollution. The tool allows users to identify a parcel of land considered for development and calculate transportation benefits of locating in a walkable community near transit.
Alameda County Seeks to Preserve Restrictions on Gun Shops
Alameda County Supervisors are asking a court to uphold its countywide zoning restricting the locations of gun shops. Pro-gun groups are challenging the county’s 1998 ordinance prohibiting new gun shops in areas within 500 feet of residential neighborhoods, schools, day care centers, liquor stores or other gun shops. While the Second Amendment gives the right to bear arms, the county argues it does not need allow any place to sell weapons. The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco voted, 2-1, to revive a lawsuit challenging the ordinance and said the county must justify the zoning restriction by providing evidence that gun stores are magnets for crime.
Updates & Quick Hits
In July Los Angeles County supervisors voted, 3-2, to place a marijuana that would fund housing and health services for the homeless on the November ballot. That vote was nullified two weeks later when the author of the measure introduced a motion to rescind it.
In Long Beach, the Queen Mary Land Development Task Force adopted six guiding principles for redesigning the 56 acres surrounding the landmark ship. Most importantly, the large parking lots will be converted to waterfront promenades with a transit hub. The new development must have public access, connectivity and a complete community.
Peninsula Open Space Trust has been purchasing farms along the San Mateo County coast to preserve farming and open opportunities for young farmers amid the high real estate prices. The plan for the four farms totaling 153 acres is to place a conservation easement on the title so the property cannot be developed.
The Mission Bay Alliance, opponents of the Warriors arena in Mission Bay, said they will take the case to the California Court of Appeal after losing last month. The group says San Francisco city officials violated CEQA when they signed off on an incomplete 2,300-page EIR.
Los Angeles put out a call to develop homeless housing in eight city-owned properties. These sites include parking lots, vacant parcels, and city facilities with excess land. The city has an $138 million plan to address homelessness in the next year, as well as a $1.2 billion parcel tax measure on the November ballot.
The Humboldt County Planning Commission has approved its first two commercial medical cannabis farms- a quarter-acre farm and a 7-acre one. In January the county’s commercial medical marijuana program set land use regulations and created a permitting system for commercial cannabis operations.