The recently established Oakland Department of Transportation released its strategic plan, which focuses on four pillars: equitable jobs and housing; holistic community safety; vibrant, sustainable infrastructure; and responsive, trustworthy government. The plan includes a range of goals and strategies in those four categories that the city will pursue. Other points include that transportation has a role in maintaining affordability, strong policies must be made, governments with accountability and transparency, and lastly that the focus must be on the region instead of only Oakland. OakDOT is comprised of 270 staff and 18 work units from the Department of Public Works and the Police Departments. The strategy calls for partnerships with the departments of Planning and Building, Race and Equity, local transit partners, and stakeholders at the local, regional, state and federal levels. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
L.A. County Gold Line Spurs $6.7 Billion in Transit Oriented Development
The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority released two reports that detail the amount of transit-oriented development that has been built or is underway within a half-mile radius of a current and future Gold Line stations. The reports reveal that TOD projects near 18 Gold Line stations from Chinatown to Montclair have resulted in $6.7 billion in private investments since 2003. More than 12,500 new housing units, 3.6 million square feet of commercial space and 1,400 hotel rooms have been built within a half-mile radius of a Gold Line station. The potential TOD for Phase 2 corridor from Arcadia to Montclair would add 17,000 more housing units, 10 million additional square feet of commercial space and 250 more hotel rooms as well as generating $100 million more in annual tax revenues to LA County. The six Pasadena stations amount to $3.3 billion in economic output and roughly 20,700 jobs. These light-rail lines create temporary jobs as well as tax revenues to the county.
Los Angeles Takes Stock of Thousands of City-Owned Parcels
The City of Los Angeles controller’s office recently a database of counts of properties including parking lots, parks, and orange groves that the city owns but that had not previously been cataloged comprehensively. The data shows the city owns 9,900 parcels in Los Angeles County, much more than previously listed. City officials see this as a first step toward identifying land that could be sold, leased or better utilized for things like condominiums, affordable housing development, parks, or other public facilities. While the databases shows parks, airports and government buildings most residents recognize as city property, the city also found that in 1969 officials began purchasing vacant desert lots in Palmdale to build an airport- there are 17,500 acres in Palmdale that Los Angeles owns. The system will be further detailed to include information on zoning, parking, energy usage, and in some cases estimated property value.
UCLA Considers Effects of Climate Change, Envisions L.A. in 2050
Recent climate research from UCLA has found that Los Angeles by 2050 will be hotter, drier, with less snow in the San Gabriel Mountains. It will also grow by 1.5 million people. While one solution is to create denser multi-use developments along transportation corridors, many Angelenos are worried about losing their communities’ characters. The university’s Now Institute released two publications called 100% Sustainable: Strategies for 2050 renewable energy, local water, and ecosystem health in Los Angeles and 99% Preservation, 1 % Densification: A case for 2050 sustainability through a denser, more connected Los Angeles. The studies, led by Los Angeles-based, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne, find increasing the density of Los Angeles’ Wilshire Boulevard to accommodate an additional 1 million people on the 15.8-mile long corridor would be sufficient. Additionally, the plan would be to extend the purple line light rail to Santa Monica allowing more than one million residents to live within a half-mile of a Metro stop. This densification would allow more residents to live a public transit-based lifestyle, diminish water demand, reduce vehicular emissions, and protect an area 10 times its size, primarily by building upward instead of outward.
Coastal Cities Sue FAA Over New Flight Paths
Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Culver City have sued the Federal Aviation Aministration citing concerns about potential increased aircraft noise and pollution, arguing the environmental analysis for a new air traffic control system was not adequately prepared. The FAA’s Metroplex Project intends to replace aging air traffic control systems, redesign busy airspace and change arrival and departure procedures for 21 local airports including LAX and John Wayne in Orange County. FAA officials say the new procedures will be phased in from November through April and many public outreach sessions will be held.
City of Ontario Takes Over ONT Airport
The City of Ontario has finally assumed ownership of LA/Ontario International Airport from LA after years of litigation and negotiation. The once fast growing airport saw dramatic cuts in airline service and its annual passenger volumes plummeted from 7.2 million in 2007 to 3.97 million in 2013. Ontario International Airport Authority paid LA World Airports $55.5 million in bonds issues by LA for airport improvements and the FAA issues an operating certificate to the authority. In addition to spreading out the region’s air travel, control of ONT may lead to a development boom around the airport as the city tries to capitalize on its new asset. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
Gas-Powered Autos Cost State $15 Billion Annually
The American Lung Association released a report saying California’s dependence on gas-powered vehicles costs the state $15 billion a year in health and climate-related expenses. The research tries to quantify the costs of smog and climate pollution caused by passenger vehicles. To evaluate health care costs the report looked at asthma attacks, hospitalizations, and premature deaths. California has some of the worst air in the country, but new policy calls for 15 percent of cars sold by 2025 to be zero-emission vehicles.
Coleman to Succeed McKenzie at League of Cities
The League of California Cities Board of Directors has selected Carolyn Coleman as the new executive director. Coleman has a law degree from Indiana University and currently serves as the director of Federal Advocacy for the National League of Cities since 2006. She has experience in the public and private sectors and will be the first female executive director of the League and only the fifth executive director in the organization’s 118-year history. Colman succeeds Chris McKenzie, is retiring after 17 years. (See further CP&DR coverage.)
Updates & Quick Hits
A controversial $1.2-billion residential, hotel and retail complex in South LA known as The Reef is one step closer to approval after the city council’s Planning and Land Use Committee voted to support the project despite arguments from the community activists who said the project could lead to widespread displacement of low-income residents. The Reef would transform two empty parking lots and the current 12-story Reef building into a walkable community just blocks from the Metro Blue Line station.
L.A. Metro received three more unsolicited proposals for mega-projects related to the Measure M ballot measure. Two are for the Sepulveda Pass rail tunnel and another for the West Santa Ana Branch Light Rail project. The approaches in the 8 proposals Metro has received utilize an innovative public-private partnership to deliver projects sooner than anticipated.
An Alameda County Superior Court judge denied petitions brought forth against an 18-story mixed-use project in Downtown Berkeley. The Berkeley City Council approved the project in December 2015 but lawsuits were filed against the project’s EIR saying the impacts on nearby schools weren’t studies, the project was incorrectly designated as urban infill development, and the buildings height violated zoning limits.
The San Diego City Council rejected, 7-2, a proposal to ban short-term vacation rentals in single-family neighborhoods. The Council directed its staff instead to return with a comprehensive ordinance that would regulate STR.
“Star Wars” creator George Lucas has released designs for museums for Treasure Island in San Francisco and Exposition Park in Los Angeles. Both museums are designed by Chinese architect Ma Yansong and have a futuristic, fluid look. Lucas will make a decision early 2017.
Sacramento rents are steadily increasing with the healthy job market, population growth and stagnant construction of new development according to Yardi Matrix, a real estate research group, Sacramento’s rents are the fastest-growing rent market in the nation with increases of 11 percent per year and occupancy rates of 96.7 percent. This has created a surge in homeless families.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a permit to build a solar farm in Jacumba that would generate electricity for 5,000 homes. The proposed plant is located nearly three miles east of Jacumba Hot Springs near the U.S.-Mexico international border fence and near a San Diego G&E substation, so long transmission lines to hook into the region’s power grid will not be needed. The permit allows Jacumba Solar LLC to build 108-acre solar plant along 304 acres of land.
Orange County Superior court Judge William D. Claster ruled the City of Fullerton can continue its plan of preserving pieces of West Coyote Hills with other areas getting developed. Friends of Coyote Hills have fought against the 510-acre development and took the city to court last year saying its plan to preserve 60 percent of the land as open space violated state law and a 2012 voter-approved ballot measure.
The City of Santa Ana released planning documents titled “The Safe Mobility Santa Ana Plan” that identifies 42 high-priority projects (37 corridors and 5 intersections) that would take around $40 million to complete. The plan signals a shift from the city away from passenger vehicles to a greater focus on pedestrian and bicycle safety.