The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the largest residential complex in the history of Mission District, 3.5 years after the project was proposed. The development includes 191 market-rate apartments and 100-136 affordable units; the latter will be constructed by the city by land donated by the developer. Residents of this neighborhood, which has become a flashpoint in the city’s gentrification debates, are worried about displacement; in a predominantly working-class Latino community a huge spike in luxury condominiums and new restaurants have replaced the rent-controlled apartments and laundromats. Those opposed to the project say it has a flawed environmental impact report, and that impacts of increased traffic and congestion were not evaluated. Supervisors responded that CEQA was not the appropriate avenue to address displacement concerns and that the city would construct the new affordable units with the $30 million it has set aside. Activists have already indicated that they will sue to block the project.
Chargers Propose Community Land Trust for Barrio Logan
Amid debates over a possible new stadium, the San Diego Chargers have told the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council that they will help keep land values low and fight gentrification near their new home if the bid for the $1.8 billion convention stadium is won. The team would establish a land trust for Barrio Logan, Sherman Heights, Logan Heights and other neighborhoods that would see high levels of displacement. The trust would be run by a nonprofit group and community members would drive the selection process, however the team would supply the trust with funds that range “in the millions.” A labor agreement between the Chargers and the construction union would require unions to guarantee not to strike and require contractors to hire workers through the union halls.
Santa Cruz Zoning Would Create ‘Nodes’ of Density
The City of Santa Cruz has released the first draft of its proposed zoning update its for four main corridors. This new rule-book will help control through these major byways. Developers that meet certain criteria at numerous “nodes” along the corridors may build higher density developments. The new code is part of the city’s vision to increase community walkability. This can include removing on-street parking for right-of-way improvements and bicycle access. The corridor committee also recommends incentives for new affordable housing, “community benefit” exceptions and craft design standards. Opposition has come from residents on the east side of the city who feel the plan encourages is undue density and development on their side of town. The Planning Commission will now begin hosting three public hearing meetings to gather input from the community on the draft zoning code before going to City Council for approval.
Humboldt County Agrees to Implement ADA Compliance Measures
Humboldt County has three and a half years to correct violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act according to a new agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. A similar pact was made in 2008, but the county failed to make all the necessary improvements. The county has started prioritizing and cataloguing disability access projects, but must now find the funding and implement the ruling’s requirements. This Department of Justice program, Project Civic Access, had similar agreements with 220 local agencies across the country; Humboldt County was one of the few that did not comply. The county blames the Great Recession for its inability to fund the ADA upgrades and projects; since the economy has improved, these have become priority. The county has created a new ADA coordinator position and is reviewing potential candidates. The county also has allocated $1.2 million in discretionary funds for ADA compliance.
Maps Charts Neighborhood Change in Los Angeles
The joint UCLA and UC Berkeley Urban Displacement project recently released a gentrification map of Los Angeles. Researchers looked at the city from 1990 to 2000, and up to 2015 focusing on neighborhoods near transit stops. These areas saw greater rent increases and more displacement than other areas around the city. The most intense developments have occurred in Chinatown, Highland Park, East L.A., and along the Hollywood red line. Urban planners have been pushing for more transit-oriented development, which includes a half-mile area around a Metro or light rail stop. Professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris from UCLA told KPCC that TOD and denser development do not have to be stopped, but more policies need to be put in place to protect affordable housing.
Caltrans to Liquidate Properties Surrounding Would-Be 710 Extension
Caltrans will begin selling 42 properties, including 39 single-family and 3 multi-family, along the path of the north 710 Freeway extension in El Sereno. Caltrans is considering a variety of projects in the area: dedicated busway, light-rail line, traffic management systems or a 6.3-mile freeway tunnel. These first homes lie outside the scope of all these potential projects. Caltrans has a formula to set the starting price for the property but many worry that this may lead to unaffordable prices for current tenants. Of the properties, 3 are in Pasadena, 6 in Los Angeles, and 33 in South Pasadena.
The Santa Barbara Planning Commission Considers Major Coastal Plan
At a recent Santa Barbara County Planning Commission meeting, comissioners heard about the Gaviota Coast Plan, which will set regulations for the more than 100,000 acres of oceanfront property. The plan includes issues such as public trails across private property, streamlined permitting for fire stands and small campgrounds, balance of ranching and farming with protection of endangered species, and whether to allow fracking. The Environmental Defense Center said the plan should include better protection of endangered species habitat in mountainous areas, which makes up roughly 25,000 acres or a quarter of the plan’s scope.
Monterey Adopts Specific Plan, Parks & Recreation Plan
The Monterey City Council adopted the Lighthouse Specific Plan and the Parks and Recreation Master Plan. For the Lighthouse plan, referring to a corridor along Lighthouse Avenue, major pieces were parking and traffic and building heights. Most buildings will not be higher than 35 feet. Over 1,000 community comments were heard for the new Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which guides the design needs for the next 20 years. The city plans to construct a teen center, more art and history in the parks, dog parks, and potentially a pickleball field. Monterey Council members also approved a response letter to the county’s 2016-17 civil jury report showing low-income housing is rarely available for homeless women.
QUICK HITS & UPDATES
The U.S. Interior Department officials signed the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, designed to balance conservation of California’s desert landscapes with the growth in clean energy. The plan puts 9.2 million acres of federal land in California deserts off limits to solar, wind and geothermal development and allows approximately 800,000 acres to be used for renewable projects. 400,000 acres of Development Focus Areas will have a streamlined permitting process.
U.S. DOT announced a $1.04 billion federal grant to SANDAG to extend the existing Blue Line Trolley service from downtown San Diego to the growing University City area. The 10.92-mile light rail extension is estimated to serve around 24,600 transit trips every weekday and begin service in 2021.
According to a new survey by Los Angeles Metro, the Expo Line has seen a ridership surge of 20,000 new rides per weekday since the opening of Phase 2 to Santa Monica. The first two months of service have hit 70 percent of the rider projection made for 2030. Seventy percent of were new to the system; half used to drive alone and 23 percent switched from using the bus.
Measure A, the proposed half-cent sales tax in San Diego County, is being challenged by a group of labor, health and transportation organizations for claiming the ordinance would improve water quality by treating runoff and that it will reduce mass transit fares for seniors, students, disabled people and veterans. The Registrar of Voters, Michael Vu, will make a decision to amend or delete the disputed statements.
San Diego is expecting to reap nearly $49.2 million from developer impact fees over the next five years from the many construction projects occurring downtown. This money will cover the developer’s projects impacts on parks, transportation and fire station needs. The city has a nearly $1.6 billion wish list for projects it would like to complete in the upcoming years.
Yosemite National Park is adding 400 acres of meadows and forests to its western boundary for the biggest expansion in seven decades. The Trust for Public Land purchased $2.3 million Ackerson Meadow from private owners and donated it to the National Park Service. The meadows are home to the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher and a geographically isolated group of 200 great gray owls.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District announced that it will appeal a recent decision in favor of the planned World Logistics Center in Moreno Valley. The 40.6-million-square-foot warehouse has faced nine lawsuits for not adequately addressing air pollution, traffic and other environmental consequences required by CEQA.
The Alameda City Council has proposed permitting 1,843 housing units through 2023 in order to put the city in compliance with state housing needs assessment.