Judge Orders Los Angeles to Provide Shelter to Homeless
A federal judge ordered Los Angeles, both city and county, to shelter or house the entire homeless population of Skid Row by October. It’s unclear whether the city and county will challenge the order, which also calls for the city to put $1 billion into an escrow account. The ruling argues that L.A. city and county wrongly focused on permanent housing at the expense of more temporary shelter. The judge wrote that “after adequate shelter is offered,” he would allow the city to enforce laws that keep streets and sidewalks clear of tents so long as they’re consistent with previous legal rulings that have limited the enforcement of such rules. The plaintiffs, the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights, a coalition of downtown business owners and residents that filed the case in March 2020, accusing the city and county of breaching their duty to abate a nuisance, reducing property value without compensation, wasting public funds and violating the state environmental act and state and federal acts protecting people with disabilities. The city plans to file an appeal.
San Diego Envisions Transit Hub Near Airport
SANDAG has submitted a notice of preparation (NOP) for environmental review of a central mobility hub, marking a pivotal step in the agency’s quest to develop a transit center with an airport connection at the Navy’s Old Town Campus. “San Diego Grand Central Station,” as it is often referred to, would become the region’s primary transportation center, connecting all rail and bus lines with a people mover to the airport. The NOP marks the first major milestone toward bringing high-speed transit to the airport. The environmental report will study two location options, as well as an extension of the trolley to the airport, along with improvements to local roads and highway access. The total project cost is estimated to be $4 billion or more, of which $1 billion would need to be raised locally, according to SANDAG officials.
HCD to release Housing Element Implementation and APR Data Dashboard
The California Department of Housing and Community Development announced the release of the housing element APR Dashboard on the department’s new Open Data Tools webpage. For the first time, city and county officials can view all the annual progress report (APR) data — previously only available in multiple spreadsheets and PDFs — consolidated in one place and reformatted as graphs and charts. The dashboard includes new data points: updates on housing element program commitments, housing applications, and housing funding source information. Users will be able to track housing production at a variety of income levels and structure types, and find out how close a state, region or town is to meeting its housing goals. The dashboard will be updated this summer with data received on the 2020 APR’s, which were due on April 1, 2021. A webinar describing dashboard features will be held May 4.
CP&DR Legal: Coastal Commission Prevails in Only-in-Malibu Suit
An appellate court has upheld a $4.1 million penalty against a Malibu beach property owner—a plastic surgeon based in Beverly Hills--for refusing to remove a small structure that blocks access to the beach. The court also refused to strike down as unconstitutional a 2014 law that gave the Coastal Commission the authority to impose large fines to property owners in such situations. The property owner was represented in this case by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit public interest law firm that often pursues high-profile cases on behalf of property owners. The appellate court’s ruling consumed 63 pages, but the court ruled in favor of the Coastal Commission on all arguments.
Quick Hits & Updates
The Encinitas City Council voted to rescind its recently crafted ordinance for higher-density developments, a move seen as necessary to passing a housing element proposals. Encinitas is slated to be on time for the 2021 to 2029 housing planning cycle with a housing element that accommodates 1,550 units, including 838 low-income units.
The Carlsbad City Council unanimously approved the city’s 2021-2029 Housing Element. If repurposed for residential development, city-owned sites could yield more than 1,000 lower-income units, according to the document. Rezoned industrial parcels and up-zoned residential parcels could accommodate another 1,000, leaving a theoretical surplus of more than 1,400 lower-income units.
The Walt Disney Corporation unveiled Disney Forward, a plan to significantly expand Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. Disney is not acquiring any new land for this expansion proposal, nor is it seeking any public funding from Anaheim, which was the case for some of its previously unsuccessful proposals over the last few decades.
The Coastal Commission voted, 5-4, to endorse the National Park Service’s plan to allow commercial cattle ranchers to obtain longer leases and kill some elk in Point Reyes National Seashore. In exchange, ranchers will be required to improve water quality tests near ranches and generate public reports of their progress.
San Bernardino has chosen the developers that will redevelop the 43-acre Carousel Mall site. Renaissance and ICO Real Estate Group have proposed converting the Carousel Mall site into a downtown hub will up to 3,500 new residential units, as well as entertainment, commercial, and office space.
A Canadian mining company is drafting plans to reopen the more than 150-year-old Idaho-Maryland Mine. northeast of Sacramento, the 73 miles of underground tunnels may have still have billions of dollars’ worth of gold deposits. Residents, who have lived with the environmental scars for decades, are pushing back.
According to a report adopted by Clovis City Council, Clovis saw 1,124 units built in 2020, all of which were considered affordable for families with moderate incomes or above moderate. None fit the state standard of low-income affordable. The state goal for Clovis is 6,328 units between 2013 and 2023.
Major League Soccer's commissioner says the league’s reneging on Sacramento's bid for a team was a ‘COVID casualty,’ but not dead yet. In season opening remarks, Don Garber said the league has been looking at several other cities as possible landing sties since Sacramento's lead investor backed out of a deal to finance the team.
A legal aid provider filed suit against the City of Chico and the city's police department for strict measures taken against the homeless. The suit seeks an injunction barring the city from enforcing 72-hour eviction notices issued to unhoused people sleeping and resting on public land. It also seeks ending continued enforcement of city ordinances that criminally penalize the plaintiffs' homeless status.
Encinitas is making a push to pass an update to its density bonus law that would prevent it from having to adhere to AB 2345 via a loophole built into the law but intended to apply to cities like Los Angeles and San Diego that have already exceed state requirements. If successful, Encinitas would get the benefit of AB 2345—a density bonus—without having to include additional affordable housing.
Researchers from the UC Berkeley Terner Center found evidence to suggest the provisions proposed in SB 478 could have important implications for the creation of "missing middle" housing by allowing more size and shape of new small-scale development. One caveat, the researchers note, is that jurisdictions do not rely on FAR and minimum lot size alone, the two key provisions of the bill.
The Yucaipa City Council is in the final stages of its progress reports to the Housing and Community Development and the Office of Planning and Research on the status of its General Plan and Housing Element.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has announced $63 million in awards for the Local Housing Trust Fund (LHTF) program, which funds the construction or rehabilitation of affordable rental housing projects, emergency shelters, permanent supportive housing, and transitional housing.
Despite a pandemic-induced recession that left millions of Californians out of work, median home values increased 11% over the past year to an all-time high of $635,055 in February 2021. One critical factor is years of undersupply in the housing market as new construction fell short of demand. California’s homeowner vacancy rates—already among the lowest in the nation—dropped by one-fourth during the pandemic to 0.6% in the last quarter of 2020.