Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced a plan to develop the entire waterfront south of Ocean Boulevard, an area that was not included in the city’s Downtown Plan. Garcia said a specific focus will be developing the “elephant lot” which is currently used for parking just east of the Long Beach Convention Center. It is the biggest parcel of undeveloped land in the city. Another announcement was that a new project will claim the tallest building in Long Beach with between 40 and 43 stories and 694 residential units. The tower is planned for the land at 600 West Broadway behind One World Trade Center. Other large projects downtown include the Shoreline Gateway project, a 35-story tower, and 3rd + Pacific, a mixed-use 23 story tower iwht 366 residential units. The total construction boom includes 5,000 new residential units, of which 800 would be affordable housing. Mayor Garcia said, “The Long Beach skyline is going to look very different five years from now”.

Tejon Ranch Ranch Wins Support from L.A. County Planning Commission
The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission voted 4-1, to recommend the county Board of Supervisors certify the Centennial development’s EIR and approve associated land-use plans and permits. The project is a 19,000-home community on Tejon Ranch. Centennial development was first proposed by landowner Tejon Ranch Co. in 1999 and has been controversial since then. Environmental advocates say the project would destroy one of the last native grasslands in the state and disrupt the habitat of many animals that inhabit the ranch. They also say development in such a remote part of LA County would considerably increase vehicle travel and GHG emissions. However, project supporters say it is consistent with the Antelope Valley Area Plan and would bring services and homes to northern LA County. The project will now go to the Board of Supervisors for final consideration. Two public meetings will take place; the first is likely late 2018 or early 2019.

San Francisco Mayor Announces Effort to Streamline Approvals  
San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced an executive order designed to dramatically accelerate the city’s process for assessing and approving accessory dwelling units by clearing the backlog of 900 housing units stuck in the approval pipeline. Breed noted that various city departments offer conflicting interpretations of the same building codes when reviewing applications. Breed is instructing her departments to clear the 900-unit backlog within a half year. The order will give the city a four-month timeline for approving code-compliant applications. Additionally, the Fire Department and the Department of Building Inspection will be creating a checklist for property owners to follow that is intended to provide clear and consistent guidance about what they’ll need to do to get their units approved. According to the mayor’s office, the city has approved 377 ADUs sine 2014 of which nearly 92 percent were build in rent-controlled dwellings.

Laguna Beach Sues Orange County over Great Park Development
The City of Laguna Beach has filed a lawsuit against the County of Orange and the Lowe Enterprise Real Estate Group claiming a proposed hotel, homes, retail space, and office on a proposed 108-acre development that is part of the Irvine Great Park would bring “a significant portion of its traffic” to the city. The complaint was filed early August in Orange County Superior Court against the El Toro Development Plan, which is allegedly inconsistent with the county’s general plan. According to the claim, the general plan calls for land development on the former Marine Corps Airbase El Toro to be restricted to park, recreational, cultural or public-use activities. These restrictions were placed on the 47,000-acre site after plans for the voters did not approve an international airport in 2002. The Irvine parcel was approved, 4-1, for development by the Board of Supervisors in November 2017.

Quick Hits & Updates 
For the second year, LA is hosting the LA New Mobility Challenge 2018, a joint initiative of LA CoMotion, the NewCities Foundation, and the LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI). The goal is to invite innovative and environmentally-friendly entrepreneurs from around the world to push the envelope on urban mobility solutions from ride-sharing and zero-emission electric bikes and scooters to self-driving vehicles and flying cars. The first edition of the Challenge attracted some 234 early-stage companies from 16 countries. The six focus area of the Challenge are shared mobility solutions, personal mobility, electrification, autonomous vehicles solutions, smart infrastructure, and urban air mobility. To compete, the startups must be less than five years old, revenues of up to $5 million, and have a product at least in pilot, beta or prototype stages.

Two environmental groups and four residents have filed lawsuits against a settlement reached amid an eight-year legal battle between the City of Richmond and casino developers over the Point Molate peninsula. The groups allege the settlement violates California’s Ralph M. Brown Act, which sets guidelines to provide public access to meetings of local government agencies. The settlement reached between the developers and the city allows a part of the land to be sold for development and the profits to be split 50-50. Executive director for Citizens for East Shore Parks said in an interview, “At a minimum, the terms of the agreement should have been made public and there should have been public input on whether or not this is a good thing. There should have been a discussion like a normal city council would do.”

Iconic Horton Plaza in San Diego has officially been sold to real estate investment firm Stockdale Capital Partners who plans to turn the 900,000 square-foot shopping mall property into an ultra-modern office campus geared toward top tech firms. Horton Plaza opened in 1985 with a Disneyland-meets-Italian-hills vibe but 30 years later many of the mall’s storefronts have been abandoned. Stockdale anticipates two years of construction with tenants by end of 2020. The result could end up as many as 4,000 high-paying jobs and an estimated $1.8 billion in annual economic impact.

Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG) has been hired to lead design for a new ballpark for the Oakland A’s stadium at Howard Terminal. The City of Oakland is buying out Alameda County’s stake in the jointly-owned Coliseum site. This will give the city control over the public amenity to pass on the costs of redeveloping the site to developers. BIG will work together with Gensler and James Corner Field Operations to craft the new ballpark and surrounding areas.

UC Merced along with its public-private partnership development team, Plenary Properties Merced, have recently celebrated the opening of two new housing structures, a 600-seat multipurpose dining facility, and new classrooms. This is the first phase of Merced 2020, a four-year expansion project which will add approximately 1.2 million gross square-feet of teaching, research, residential, and student-support facilities to the existing campus. The buildings include energy-efficient design and systems that surpass the current Title 24 requirements by 33 percent, and will utilize 40 percent less water for indoor uses than the national standard.