The Oakland City Council approved dramatic reductions to its parking requirements last week, undoing regulations established in 1965. The move is meant to make it less expensive to develop housing, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve quality of life for residents. The city is hoping to achieve better walkability with the new parking regulations. For instance, in major transit hubs, the required parking is zero and instead a maximum cap is set. Additionally, cost of parking will be separate from rent, meaning residents who do not drive will no longer subsidize neighbors that do. The regulations provide incentives for landlords to developers to offer transit passes and subsidies for car-sharing services to residents. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)

Watchdog Group Sues Coastal Commissioners
Five California Coastal Commissioners are being sued by Spotlight on Coastal Corruption for 590 alleged transparency rule violations in the last two years. Commissioners Erik Howell, Martha McClure, Wendy Mitchell, Mark Vargas and Steve Kinsey are accused of violating disclosure laws for ex-parte communications and could each face fines of millions of dollars. Ex-parte communications involve telephone calls, face-to-face meetings, emails or other written material related to a pending matter outside official public hearings. These interactions should be reported in writing within a week of the communication and include the date, time, type, location, list of everyone involved in the communication, and description of content. A bill prohibiting ex-parte communications by commissioners was defeated earlier this month.

Lake Tahoe, Salton Sea to Receive Federal Funding
The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a measure for $10 billion on water quality projects nationwide over the next decade. This includes $415 million for the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act. The first Act in 2000 provided $300 million in federal money for restoration projects on the lake. This new bill will include money for projects to improve water quality, reduce wildlfire threats, combat aquatic invasive species, and build new public transit systems featuring ecologically friendly roads. The Salton Sea would also receive funding from the bill as would the Los Angeles River and Sacramento-area flood control. The measure must now go to the House to be voted on.

Proposed Development May Run Afoul of Richmond General Plan
Richmond residents filed a lawsuit against a new 13.8-acre bayfront Terminal One development project at Terminal One. The project plan includes 334 condo and townhome units, restaurants, hiking trails and a 0.9-acre park. The five residents that filed the claim are members of the Brickyard Cove Alliance for Responsible Development (BCARD). They allege that the project’s EIR does not comply with CEQA because of traffic congestion, exposure to hazardous chemicals, blocked bay views and altered wind patterns for sailing community. The plaintiffs favor the site’s development, but are concerned with the height and subversion of Richmond’s General Plan 2030.

Price Tag for Key L.A. River Parcel: $252 Million
The Los Angeles City Council voted in May to allocate $40 million to purchase part of Taylor Yards, a crucial site site along the Los Angeles River to develop into a park space, wetland, and other amenities. City analysts have calculated that it could cost more than $252 million to develop the 41-acre area into a park. $120 million of the expected costs are for environmental cleanup. UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation is preparing a new Los Angeles River Greenway Guide and is using Marsh Park as a case study. This 3.9-acare park in the Elysian Valley has trees, green infrastructure, play and fitness equipment, a walking path, picnic tables, open-air pavilion, and a large industrial building that houses a company that takes modular shipping containers and turns them into units for the homeless. The guide includes 14 other case studies that include parks, pathways, access points and bridges along the river. The guide looks at challenges faced in each project and how the obstacles were overcome leading to successful riverside gateways. The 51-mile river has many successful projects on the northern part, but not the same amenities exist in the lower section of the river. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)

Listing of Spineflower Could Complicate L.A.-Area Developments
The San Fernando Valley spineflower may become listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The flower, once thought to be extinct, has two known populations located in the Santa Monica Mountains of Ventura County and on the proposed Newhall Ranch development site. However, Newhall Land and Farming has said it has taken steps to protect the plant. For instance, in the Spineflower Conservation Plan approved by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in 2010 227 acres of Newhall Land are permanently funded and protected for the flower.

Updates & Quick Hits

The California Coastal Commission accepted Measure H as a Minor Amendment to the Dana Point Local Coastal Plan, which will now allow the measure to become part of the 2008 Town Center Plan. Supporters say the measure will help the residents with the battle against special interests and developer money.

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco rejected, 3-0, the city’s attempt to restrict tenant evictions under the state’s Ellis Act. The court said the ordinance would “discourage or penalize Ellis Act evictions” which creates a disincentive to evict.

The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved $750 million in public funding to build a stadium in Las Vegas to lure the Oakland Raiders. The hotel tax in the Las Vegas area will be raised to pay for the 65,000-seat stadium, as well as partially financed by billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. The governor, legislature and three-quarters of NFL owners need to be won over to make the project a reality.

Four affordable housing projects in San Francisco will receive $310 million in city money to jump start development. The projects will create 529 housing units for seniors, families, and formerly homeless persons.

Unite Here Local 11, a labor union representing hotel workers, filed a complaint to investigate potential illegal use of foreign money in a heated Beverly Hills ballot measure. The ballot measure would allow union-friendly Beverly Hilton to bypass public review to build a 26-story high-rise. Opposing the measure is China’s Wanda Group, which plans to build a $1.2-billion hotel-condominium project adjacent to the 26-story high-rise.