Board Approves Peninsula High Speed Rail Alignment
The High-Speed Rail Authority board unanimously approved the environmental analysis of a high-speed rail route from San Francisco to San Jose, green-lighting construction on about 49 miles of tracks. The plan is part of a larger $72.3 to $105.1 billion intention to connect the route to Los Angeles and Anaheim through the San Joaquin Valley; environmental analyses for just two more sections of the 500-mile system must be approved. The remaining stretches are from Palmdale to Burbank and downtown Los Angeles to Anaheim. Priorities for the mega route are to begin design work on extensions into Merced and Bakerfield, where trains are proposed to take off by 2030.
OPR Updates Wildfire Planning Resources
The Office of Planning and Research (OPR) has introduced multiple updates to wildfire planning resources, including the Fire Hazard Planning Technical Advisory (TA) and the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Planning Guide. The TA updates, prompted in 2019, are designed to propel strategies to minimize fire risk, from community outreach, risk assessments, more organized collaboration across agencies, and policy development. The WUI outlines the local policies that can reduce wildfire risk. The document highlights case study examples, including Carlsbad, Malibu, and San Bernardino, for climate mitigation and adaptation, increased green space implementation, wildfire protection, recovery plans, and more. The OPR is hosting a webinar on September 14 for more information on the state's plan to promote wildfire resilience.
Analysis Warns of "Megaflood" Threatening State
Due to the impact of global warming, the risk of a statewide catastrophic "megaflood" has doubled, according to a new report from UCLA researchers. The results would be devastating -- 10 million people displaced, crucial interstate freeways closed for months, and water submerging dense locales from Stockton to Los Angeles. While the risk rises from 1% to 2%, the results warn of the dangers of unchecked emissions and a warming planet that increases the likelihood of cycles of wildfires, megafloods, landslides, and droughts in just one state. The researchers are now collaborating with the Department of Water Resources to identify the most at-risk areas and propose preparedness measures.
Report Analyzes Future Scenarios for Transportation, Land Use in California
Researchers at UCLA's Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies and Institute of Transportation Studies have imagined the potential for California's future transportation and housing, which namely includes a departure from car dependency and a rise in city centers with easy access to housing, jobs, and other necessities and amenities. While rural areas and suburbs may continue to see car usage, urban hubs would see an increase in high-density development, transit service, walking, and affordable housing. The report also considers California's past and present with respect to land use policy and proposes four different scenarios for the future of transit and housing, identifying a preference for each: a world where it's easy to move around without a car and housing is accessible to all.
CP&DR Legal Coverage: Proposition 218, SB 330
A beach protection district created by the City of Malibu to restore Broad Beach cannot lay off all the costs of the project onto property owners. Rather, under Proposition 218, the district is required to separate out special and general benefits, an appellate court has ruled. Separately, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled that under Senate Bill 330 the general plan designation prevails – and single-family zoning means essentially nothing. If upheld on appeal, the ruling will mean that a landowner can replace a single-family home near Taft High School in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles with a 60-unit apartment building. But such an appellate ruling might also render zoning meaningless compared to the general plan designation.
Quick Hits & Updates
Santa Rosa became the most recent Bay Area city to put a cap on short-term rentals in an effort to prioritize housing and reduce noise and congestion issues brought by vacationers. Marin Bay, Lake Tahoe, and Sonoma County have taken similar measures.
In an effort to protect endangered fish and their ecosystem along San Geronimo Creek, the Marin County Board of Supervisors voted to create a stream conservation area and restrict development within 35 feet of the creek. The decision faces support for its environmental importance and opposition from local homeowners.
San Bernardino's Carousel Mall redevelopment continues to move forward after the city council welcomed a developer to the team and approved seeking bids for demolition. Officials intend to use the site's underutilization as an opportunity to reimagine the entire downtown across 43 acres.
A Lake Tahoe ski village with hotels and condominiums proposed for Olympic Valley will not move forward after a judge rejected the potential vacation destination for violating CEQA. The judge's ruling aligns with the environmental and congestion concerns of the movement against the project.
Redwood City, the first city in San Mateo County to submit its draft housing element to the Department of Housing and Community Development, must revise its plan after the HCD rejected its housing element over specificity concerns. Housing officials found that the city's plan was vague and likely to produce insufficient affordable housing.
The developer of a proposed 681-unit residential tower near a public transit center may raise the building's height after committing to include 192 affordable units and a green space. The development is receiving praise for its number of affordable units, which totals more than any other downtown residence.
Sacramento voters will decide the fate of a homelessness measure that outlines separate responsibilities for city and county officials on the November ballot. The measure ultimately features policies that would both remove and police homeless encampments and provide more shelter.
The Los Angeles City Council voted to prohibit the city's unhoused residents from placing their tents within 500 feet of any private, public, or daycare school in an 11-3 vote. Demonstrators protested the restrictions throughout the meeting that ended in a decision which would increase the number of banned sites from 200 to 2,000.