Los Angeles to Ask Wealthy Residents to Donate to Affordable Housing
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass's newest housing initiative, LA4LA, urges wealthy residents to make private donations and loans to help finance the purchase of apartments for the city's unhoused population, which exceeds 46,000 individuals. LA4LA is a partnership involving government, philanthropy and the private sector, with the goal of expanding affordable housing options in Los Angeles quickly and at scale. Bass hopes the initiative can help address homelessness challenges by simplifying funding processes, encouraging collaboration among public service organizations, and mobilizing expertise to achieve the mayor's housing objectives operating under the California Community Foundation. While some view this effort optimistically, others express skepticism about its potential impact given the immense scale of the problem. The program is modeled on a program in Atlanta that has raised over $150 million for affordable housing.

State Commits Funds to Housing Enforcement, Homelessness Services
The state is allocating nearly $200 million in new funds to assist in transitioning homeless individuals from encampments to housing across California. These initiatives aim to monitor the utilization of taxpayer dollars and enforce compliance with grant terms, reflecting Gov. Newsom's aim to efficient funding allocation and effective homelessness solutions. Concurrently, he introduced measures to enhance oversight of state homelessness funding to ensure accountability by local jurisdictions. These measures include expanding the Department of Housing and Community Development's Housing Enforcement Unit to encompass homelessness, proposing statutory changes to bolster the unit's capacity and monitoring the usage of state homeless funds by cities and counties to ensure compliance with grant terms. Additionally, Newsom aims to enforce existing housing laws related to combating homelessness, such as Housing First and Fair Housing Act regulations and plans to include homelessness in the Regional Housing Needs Allocation process to address the needs of homeless populations.

National Monument of Over 600,000 Acres Proposed for Mojave Desert
California members of Congress introduced a bill to establish Chuckwalla National Monument, covering 627,855 acres in the Mojave Desert and expanding Joshua Tree National Park by 17,915 acres. Championed by Sens. Alex Padlilla and Laphonza Butler and Rep. Raul Ruiz, The proposed monument would extend from the eastern Coachella Valley to the Colorado River and aim to protect diverse ecosystems and cultural values while accommodating renewable energy development, receiving endorsements from both conservation and energy industry groups. It also aims to protect the homelands of several Indigenous tribes. In a separate initiative, President Biden plans to expand the boundaries of San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, enhancing conservation efforts and increasing access to nature for underserved communities.

Multifamily Housing Funds Allocated to Build Over 4,000 Units
The California Department of Housing and Community Development announced the second round of awards from California’s Multifamily Finance Super NOFA (MFSN), aimed at expediting housing development by minimizing bureaucratic hurdles. This year’s awards, totaling nearly $523.8 million, support 51 projects that will include 4,018 homes and infrastructure improvements needed to support infill development. Through the MFSN program, developers can access multiple funding programs via a single application, facilitating time and cost savings. These programs offer loans for multifamily development construction and rehabilitation, as well as infrastructure grants to support infill development. The initiative seeks to address California's housing needs across income levels, promoting efficiency and inclusivity in housing projects, with a focus on serving diverse populations and meeting various state objectives.

CP&DR Coverage: Fulton on Supreme Court's Decision Striking Down Exactions
With a unanimous vote, the U.S. Supreme Court has ended California’s practice of allowing looser standards for exactions and impact fees when they are imposed as part of a general plan. In practical terms, the ruling in Sheetz v. El Dorado County may have the same effect as previous exactions rulings dating back to Nollan v. Coastal Commission almost 40 years ago: more sophisticated and expensive nexus studies – this time at the general plan level – to justify the imposition of fees and other exactions. now the question becomes whether the way California jurisdictions actually calculate those program-level fees is specific enough to meet the “rough proportionality” rule – and that question will be determined by California courts. Some have said this will inevitably lead to lower impact fees. Given the history of impact and mitigation in California, however, it seems more likely that it will simply lead to the use of a more sophisticated methodology in nexus studies that justify the fees. Cities and counties in California aren’t likely to give up impact fee revenue that easily, writes CP&DR Publisher Bill Fulton.

Quick Hits & Updates

The California Fish and Game Commission has officially designated the Mojave desert tortoise as endangered, acknowledging its dwindling population and the threats it faces. Efforts to protect the species include habitat preservation and recovery measures, but challenges such as urban development, vehicle strikes, wildfires, and climate change continue to endanger its survival.

The Palo Alto City Council voted to revise its housing plan for a second time, aiming to ensure minority and low-income residents have access to housing. The revisions, endorsed by the Planning and Transportation Commission, include identifying land suitable for housing development and addressing equity concerns, with a focus on affirmatively furthering fair housing.

A private developer has submitted a preliminary application for a major affordable housing development in unincorporated Sonoma County, near the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport. The proposal, invoking the builder's remedy provision, seeks to avert local zoning restriction. The proposal includes 1,400 units across 20 four-story buildings with various amenities, including a recreation space and a market building. The project, if approved, would be the largest project to invoke the builder's remedy.

The owners of Television City, previously CBS Television City, are revising their plans to modernize and expand the Los Angeles studio following feedback from residents, stakeholders and city officials. The $1.25 billion project aims to create additional office and production space. Following approvals, the project's planned completion date is 2028.

Animal rights activists in Sonoma County are pushing for an ordinance to end large concentrated animal farming operations (CAFOs), citing concerns about animal welfare and environmental pollution, while farm interests argue that the initiative could jeopardize family farms and the local agricultural industry. The proposed ordinance aims to phase out medium- and large-sized CAFOs, imposing restrictions on animal numbers and waste management, prompting debate over the balance between animal welfare and economic interests in the region.

A new report estimates that Los Angeles County must invest billions of dollars through 2040 to protect residents from worsening climate hazards, including extreme heat, increasing rainfall, worsening wildfires, rising sea levels and climate-induced public health threats. The report identifies 14 different climate adaptation measures that would cost taxpayers at least $12.5 billion over the next 15 years, with the majority of costs incurred by local municipal governments, including stormwater drainage improvements, cool pavement investments and urban canopy expansion.

Laguna Beach is forming a local housing trust fund, allocating up to $2.5 million to support efforts for affordable housing, with potential additional funding from the city's parking fund pending a state matching grant. This move aims to address the housing needs of qualifying artists, seniors and local workers while leveraging state grants for housing creation and preservation.

According to a new survey from UCLA, nearly 4 in 10 renters in Los Angeles County have expressed concerns about losing their homes and facing homelessness, while a similar proportion worry about going hungry due to the high cost of food. The survey, part of the 2024 Quality of Life Index, indicates that renters in the county are experiencing significant strain from housing costs and inflation, with satisfaction levels dropping to record lows, especially regarding the cost of living and economic outlook.

The Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA) is considering a $10-20 billion housing bond for the November 2024 ballot, aiming to build over 52,000 new affordable homes near transit. Analysis by TransForm, using data from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), suggests that this initiative could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by generating more transit trips and decreasing car usage, contributing to a more sustainable and equitable future. TransForm urges BAHFA to proceed with the measure, emphasizing the potential benefits for housing, transportation and the environment in the Bay Area.

Los Angeles Metro released its final environmental documents for the new Southeast Gateway Line, which will extend 19 miles from Artesia to downtown Los Angeles Union Station, serving multiple cities. The initial lower section, covering 15 miles from the Slauson A Line Station to Artesia, is estimated to cost $7.1 billion, with funding mainly from sales tax revenue, requiring additional federal funds. Despite minor changes in the final environmental documents, concerns have been raised about trade-offs affecting rail mobility versus increased costs, including adjustments to station accessibility and sound and visual shielding measures.

The Town of Belvedere's second attempt at an eight-year housing plan has been rejected by the state, necessitating a third revision, as officials raise concerns about the feasibility of the proposed sites for development, particularly the utilization of accessory dwelling units, churches, a school and small parcels to meet the regional mandate. Despite expectations of rejection, city officials and consultants had hoped for progress toward compliance, but the California Department of Housing and Community Development's review letter outlined 18 compliance issues, including the city's failure to address fair-housing challenges, evaluate the previous housing element's effectiveness and create programs to encourage development.

The San Jose City Council unanimously adopted a new "tenant preference" policy aimed at retaining low-income residents vulnerable to displacement, allocating 20% of affordable apartments in new city-funded properties to lower-income applicants from "high-displacement" areas and 15% within the same City Council district. Proposed in 2017 and recently passed into law in 2022, the policy addresses the urgent need to prioritize local families in the face of soaring housing costs, with Councilmembers emphasizing its significance in preserving the city's identity and culture.