AIDS Healthcare Pushing New Statewide Rent Control Measure
A coalition of housing advocates led by Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation collected enough signatures to place an initiative to repeal a major restriction on rent control on the November 2024 statewide ballot. Called the Justice for Renter Initiative, the measure would allow more cities and counties across the state to cap rents on more types of homes. The Secretary of State’s office verified over 617,000 signatures—substantially more than the 546,651 signatures required by its random sample count method to qualify the measure to go before voters in November 2024.Other supporters include the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, the California Nurses Association and the housing advocacy arm of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco currently limit where geographically rent can be raised on a yearly basis. The state also has passed regulations on rent increase. The initiative would repeal the Costa-Hawking Rental Housing Act which prohibits rent control from being placed by cities and counties onto single-family homes and apartments built after 1995. The Costa-Hawkins Act also limits the right of the state to expand rent control. A similar measure, also sponsored by AIDS Healthcare, failed in 2020, 40% - 60%. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Lake Tahoe Area Organizations Release New Stewardship Plan
Public and private organizations, managers, agencies and owners in Lake Tahoe announced a stewardship plan addressing the region's tourism-based economy and environmental challenges that have increased in the last three years since the pandemic. Some of the plan includes supporting redevelopment of tourism infrastructure and advancing recreation offerings while also emphasizing the development of vacation home rentals although very unpopular with residents. The proposal stressed that restrictions on development and redevelopment due to environmental concerns "erodes Tahoe's image" while putting a burden on developers. 15 million people visit Lake Tahoe, and new homebuyers since the pandemic have created socioeconomic stress for the working-class residents and renters. The stewardship plan designates a council among over 32 action items, others including general goals like litter enforcement and micro transit solutions. The plan also emphasizes collaborating with the Indigenous Washoe Tribe on goals of protecting the surrounding forest and lake and utilizing tourism while in development processes. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Citing Traffic and Pollution, Fontana Rejects Warehouse Development
Heeding complaints of worsening air quality and criticism from residents, the Fontana City Council rejected a proposal for three large warehouses near two high schools. The warehouses planned would have been 540,000 square feet and 69 loading docks, generating an expected 300 daily truck and 600 passenger vehicle trips. The developer behind the project proposed a 45-foot landscaped buffer between the warehouses and neighborhood and a $3.3 million contribution to a benefit fund for the community. The project would have required 29 acres of residential property rezoned directly adjacent to two local high schools. Council members voted, 3-2, against the rezoning. The decision is considered a win for activists and community members advocating for relief from warehouse expansion in the Inland Empire.

California Cities Earn Mixed Scores in Walkability Report
A new report from Smart Growth America ranks the nation’s 35 largest metro areas by walkable urbanism. The report takes into consideration multi-family rental rates, for-sale home prices, and premiums in commercial rents. Four California cities, San Francisco (6), Los Angeles (8) fared well while Sacramento (24), and San Diego (28) ranked in the bottom half. The same four cities performed entirely differently on the Social Equity Index. Despite being ranked eighth in walkable urbanism, Los Angeles ranked 35th on the Social Equity Index (SEI), from a combination of low rankings on affordability, transit systems, and proximity to walkable areas. Sacramento was the highest performer of the California cities on the SEI rankings at 20, with San Francisco close behind at 22. The report also found that 6.8% of the US population and 19.1% of the total US real GDP is contained in 1.2% of the landmass of the top 35 U.S. metros.

State Auditor Identifies Cities Financially at Risk
For the fifth year in a row, the City of Compton has landed the number one spot on the state auditor's office list of the most financially at-risk cities. Other cities that made the list's top 20 include San Gabriel, which improved slightly from second to third place; Montebello, which regressed from seventh to fifth place; Torrance; Redondo Beach; West Covina; and Los Angeles. Compton, San Gabriel, and Montebello were classified as "high risk," meaning they are vulnerable to waste, fraud, and mismanagement. Meanwhile, Torrance's ranking improved, and the city is no longer in the high risk zone. The report considers the status of reserves, debt burden, liquidity, revenue trends, and more and found that many cities have been impacted by low reserves and high pension liabilities.

CP&DR Coverage: New Los Angeles Rail Line Seeks to Support Black Community
When Los Angeles Metro proposed and started planning a light rail line through the Crenshaw District and Leimert Park – historically the heart of the city’s Black community – some of the opposition was fierce. More than just a new way to move people around the notoriously congested metropolis, the Crenshaw Line promised to become a test of the theory of “transit gentrification.” So far, community members say that the dire predictions have not materialized. The project is associated with Destination Crenshaw states that the central themes the project are to be “unapologetically Black” with a “commitment to our cultural and spatial permanence."

Quick Hits & Updates

Long Beach, Moreno Valley, Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, and the Town of Windsor have been designated as Prohousing communities. Through this designation, these jurisdictions are now eligible for funding incentives and additional resources through a state grant program designed to speed housing production. To date, a total of 27 California communities are now designated as Prohousing.

A recently proposed builder's remedy project proposed in the Bay Area's Menlo Park includes 800 residential units, a 90,000-square foot hotel, 8,400 square feet of retail space and 280,000 square feet of office space. The development firm based out of Dallas, Texas plans to build four buildings -- one taller than the Statue of Liberty -- with at least 20% of affordable units for ministerial approval as Menlo Park does not have a state-approved housing plan in place.

A U.S. District Court Judge sentenced a Los Angeles real estate developer to six years in prison for bribing elected officials and ordering a subordinate to falsify internal records of the transaction. The developer was found guilty last year for giving $500,000 in cash bribes to City Councilmember Jose Huizar in exchange for Huizar's approval of a 20-story residential tower downtown.

Brightline West, the high-speed railway connecting Southern California to Las Vegas is a step closer to groundbreaking after the Federal Railroad Administration approved its environmental reviews and permitting processes of the rail stations in Hesperia and Rancho Cucamonga. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

San Diego city officials are rolling back their proposal to expand where cannabis dispensaries can open in the city, nearly doubling the maximum number of dispensaries in many tourist and entertainment areas near transit. In a revised proposal following complaints and criticism, several neighborhoods have been taken off the plan and the new dispensaries can only open in three zones with 12 new dispensaries each.

Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to the CEO and president of the company owning Golden Gate Fields, requesting clarity on the racetrack's closure. Sen. Feinstein sought answers on the plans for the land and stadium, as well as the decision making behind the closure. In an official statement by the company, they stated they will share transitional plans as well as revitalization plans for the Southern California Santa Anita Park.

According to a report by the San Francisco Controller, both Oakland and Los Angeles have higher rates of homelessness than San Francisco in a study of a handful of similar cities across the country. The report indicates that political and grassroots efforts in San Francisco and millions of dollars spent on the crisis resulted in a 3% drop in homeless between 2019 and 2022, while Oakland saw a 24% increase in that timeframe.

In an analysis of Census Bureau data from 2017 to 2021, California houses all seven of the nation's largest metropolitan areas with the lowest homeownership rates for young adults. Los Angeles and Orange County have the lowest rates of homeownership in the country for young adults aged 25-34. The study compared those areas to metropolitan areas like Baltimore-Columbia-Townson, Maryland, where 42.9% of the same population own their homes.

Huukuiko, Inc., the nonprofit group of the Coast Miwok Tribal Council of Marin, closed a $3 million deal for 26 acres of homeland in Marin County returned to the tribe after a two-month fundraising effort including more than 85 individual and family foundations. Anonymous donors gave approximately $200,000 each.