The American Planning Association announced its 2016 Great Places in America, including one honoree in California: downtown Santa Ana. These communities all include planning that has lead to stronger, healthier and more just communities. The organization announced five Great Neighborhoods, five Great Streets and five Great Public Spaces. Downtown Santa Ana received recognition as a Great Neighborhood. The award refers to the neighborhood bounded by Civic Center Drive Flower Street, First Street, and on the east by the Southern Pacific Railroad. The award cites downtown’s “organic” evolution over 147 years and its mix of uses and architectural styles and its embrace of Orange County’s creative community. It praises planning efforts such as a complete streets plan and notes that Santa Ana has the largest form-based code in the country.

Sacramento Arena Opens with Hopes of Spurring Downtown Vibrancy
The Golden 1 Center, the new $557 million Sacramento Kings arena, officially opened this month after years of planning, negotiating, and efforts to keep the Kings in Sacramento. Located in the heart of downtown Sacramento at Fifth and L Street, the building was designed for a relatively small space, but needed to push Sacramento’s downtown into a new era architecturally and economically. The arena’s design draws from the Sierra Nevada mountains and Yosemite’s Half Dome for inspiration. The city gave $255 million in construction subsidies in the belief that the stadium would draw people to the city center to help rejuvenate Sacramento. The Downtown Plaza shopping mall, which had been in decline for years, formerly occupied the site. It, in turn, had come about through a 1960s urban renewal program that demolished an entire neighborhood.

Anaheim Approves Redevelopment Initiatives
The Anaheim City Council approved a series of actions for commercial and residential developments along Beach Boulevard intended to rejuvenate the west side of the city. The council unanimously approved a $16.1 million sale of 25-acres to LA-based Zelman Development Company for a proposed “Main Street-style” outdoor shopping center. Additionally a 3.6-acre property was purchased for $13 million by the city’s Housing Authority to push out motels and encourage mixed-use development and affordable housing. These motels are hotspots for illicit activity and provide makeshift month-to-month housing for poor and homeless families. City officials are completing a draft of a Beach Boulevard Specific Plan, which has plans to revitalize the corridor and provide incentives such as fee waivers, flexible development standards and commercial rehabilitation loans.

L.A. County Light Rail Extension Takes Eastward Step
The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority board of directors approved engineering plans for the 12.3-mile Gold Line extension from Glendora to Montclair. The 700-page document, which took two years to draft and cost $15 million, describes the alignment of the two new light-rail tracks, location and design of six future stations and parking facilities, 24 grade-separation bridges and 24 street crossings. A trip from Montclair to downtown Pasadena will take about 40 minutes, to Los Angeles approximately 75 minutes. The train will directly serve six cities: Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont and Montclair. These cities, along with LA Metro, now have 60 days to submit comments on the preliminary plans. Funding for the $1.2 billion project depends on voters approving Measure M, a half-cent sales tax increase on the Los Angeles County ballot. The line would be the first Los Angeles-Area light rail line to cross county borders, with the final station being in San Bernardino County.

With Vote Looming, Interest Groups Weigh in on San Diego Stadium
A new study from the University of San Diego and the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council found that the Chargers’ proposed stadium and convention center annex would bring an economic boost and other benefits to San Diego and its residents. The team-funded study finds that the project would create 15,000 construction jobs and 6,400 permanent jobs. The three areas the project will have economic impacts are the construction, the Chargers’ operation, and additional conventions and meetings in the “convadium”. Meanwhile, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has endorsed the Chargers stadium ballot measure after reaching an agreement with the team on various financial safeguards and other concessions. Even if the measure fails in November, the relationship between the city and the Chargers will allow for a new stadium solution to be found. Finally, San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos announced that he will not consider a new Mission Valley stadium if voters reject the team’s ballot measure for a combined downtown stadium and convention center annex. Spanos said it would not make financial sense to build a standalone stadium that would host eight to ten events per year and need construction subsidies from the city’s general fund.

Quick Hits & Updates

The National Trust for Historic Preservation released a report of the 11 most endangered historic places in the U.S., San Francisco Embarcadero made the list. The two major threats to this historic area are earthquakes and sea level rise. The Port of San Francisco is anticipating a rise in sea level of up to 66 inches by 2100 and major disruption to the $11 billion a year tourism industry in the city.

The Anaheim City Council voted to postpone a vote on the proposed $450 million development at Platinum Triangle, across from the Angel Stadium. The project has support from city leaders and nearby businesses, but the development would harm the team’s ability to build its own developments around the stadium. 

The San Francisco Planning Commission voted unanimously to displace the city’s only commercial farm and allow Golden Bridges School to build on the site. The private school owns the 30,700-square foot parcel but supporters of the farm say Little City Gardens provides herbs to acupuncturists, vegetables for Michelin-starred restaurants, and a peaceful sanctuary for many volunteers.

The Long Beach City Council announced the results of a feasibility study to analyze the potential impacts of adding an international terminal and federal customs facility to accommodate international flights at Long Beach Airport. The conclusion was the move would not violate the noise ordinance established, would generate 350 jobs, and cost between $13.1-$16.4 billion to build.

President Obama signed a new law that gives the Veterans Administration authority to negotiate and sign leases on the nearly 400-acre property in Westwood. The VA’s master plan for the campus calls for 1,200 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless vets.

The Escondido Creek Conservancy has been purchasing land to eventually create a greenbelt and improve creek conditions to support steelhead trout. In the past 25 years, the organization has preserved 1,800 acres. The final two parcels, totaling nearly 1000 acres, will cost nearly $11 million. After reaching purchase agreements with willing sellers, the organization raises funds through community groups, private donors and government grants.

The Brisbane City Council decided to postpone a vote on adding housing to a proposal to develop a 684-acre site know as Baylands. Brisbane residents would like to develop the land as a “community alternative” plan with commercial and industrial space, but not housing.

The City of Santa Cruz has announced plans to establish a bike sharing program. The city is planning on bringing in a third-party operator to manage the rental program. Santa Cruz’ General Plan and Climate Action Plan goals include “multimodal mobility” as well as increasing commute trips by bicycle from 9.7 to 12 percent by 2020.