The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority revealed plans to explore a new transit project connecting the Valley and Westside through the Sepulveda Pass, one of the region’s most congested corridors. Initial plans outline four alternatives, which all could expedite the key north-to-south commute to less than thirty minutes. The four alternatives include combinations of aerial lines and tunnel lines through the Santa Monica Mountains, and one proposes an aboveground monorail system. The alternative with the highest expected ridership is an 18-minute aerial-and-subway combination. This would also likely be the most expensive; tunneling through the Santa Monica Mountains will present significant costs and engineering challenges. Conversely, the plan with the lowest projected ridership is also the most cost-effective: the monorail option can handle steeper mountain grades than a rail line and wouldn’t require human drivers––but would make for the slowest ride at 26 minutes. Metro is expected to receive $2.54 billion for the Sepulveda Pass project through Measure M, the sales tax increase passed in 2016, and has secured $3.3 billion through other sources. The project is slated to finish 2033, but the city hopes to open the line in time for the 2028 Olympic Games.
$100 Million Affordable Housing Plan Proposed for San Jose
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo released a detailed new spending plan to expand the city’s stock of affordable housing. The plan, which still requires approval by the San Jose City Council, proposes spending $100 million on 11 developments that will add 1142 low-income units to the city. However, even a full approval of all proposed construction would still put San Jose only 20 percent of the way toward its goal of 10,000 affordable units by 2022. To address this gap, Liccardo is looking for alternative inroads toward affordable housing. Liccardo recently asked the city to revisit whether pre-existing rent controls are placing limitations on new housing projects. He’s also looking for philanthropic and corporate support, including funding from the Partnership for the Bay’s Future, a group led by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the San Francisco Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. Finally, he has met with Governor Gavin Newson, who has made housing an explicit component of his platform. "The more the merrier,” Liccardo told KQED of his multi-pronged approach. "I'm the first to recognize what we have is a multibillion dollar problem, and $10 million here and there isn't going to solve it, but every bit helps."
Tuolumne County Approves 20-year General Plan
Tuolumne County supervisors approved a comprehensive update to its 20-year General Plan outlining policy related to the county’s future growth and development. The approval came four days before two outgoing supervisors were replaced by their successors, provoking criticism of the board’s decision to approve the plan before the two incoming supervisors could provide input. Critics also said the proposed development neglected to take necessary steps to protect the county’s scenic areas. Beyond their environmental and historical significance, those areas contribute heavily to tourism, which is the county’s top industry. “It appears to have been written by and on behalf of the development community and with little consideration for the environmental community and the unique resources in this county,” said Tom Parrington, of the Central Sierra Audubon Society, according to the Union Democrat. Proponents emphasized the importance of continued development in the county, emphasizing that the plan would increase the availability of affordable housing in the area. County supervisors told the Union Democrat the plan would “have the opportunity to evolve,” noting it can be amended up to four times a year.
Civic San Diego Moves to Reduce Parking Downtown
Civic San Diego’s Board of Directors approved recommendations to limit parking spaces in future downtown developments. The new standards eliminate minimum parking requirements for new building projects. They set a parking maximum at one spot per multifamily home, and stipulate “unbundled parking,” which requires units and spots to be leased or sold separately. Currently, the downtown standard requires one space per unit and no parking maximums. The proposal is supported by research from the consulting firm Chen Ryan Associates on behalf of San Diego Civic, which shows low parking demand in multifamily units throughout the downtown area, and recommends zero parking requirements for units near transit stops. The changes follow Mayor Faulconer’s push for housing solutions that increase unit development and decrease dependence on cars within the city. The San Diego City Council will vote on the proposal in March.
Report: Bay Area Exhibits Uneven Diversity
The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) released a diversity ranking of Bay Area cities based on 2017 census data. Suburbs topped and bottomed the list: Vallejo and Suisun City are the most diverse cities, while San Anselmo and its Marin County neighbor, Ross –– both close to 90 precent white –– claimed the bottom-most rankings. Comparisons with past rankings reveal shifts in population diversity in the Bay Area’s most central cities: San Francisco dropped from 17th most-diverse in 2000 to 24th in 2017; with a substantial reduction in the city’s African American population and a growing white majority. Oakland, the third-most diverse city, has also seen a drop in its African-American population, from 30 percent to 23.6 percent. Increasingly, diversity has moved to the outskirts of the Bay Area. ABAG spokesman John Goodwin told SF Gate, “When you look at the most diverse cities, they are pretty much in the same areas, where housing costs are less expensive, and that is on the periphery of the Bay Area.”