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CP&DR News Briefs July 13, 2021: Oakland Coliseum; Sacramento "Innovation Hub;" Sustainability Awards; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Jul 13, 2021

A's Attempt to Reach Agreement with Alameda County over Oakland Coliseum Site
Questions hang over the future of the Oakland A’s ballpark and mixed-use development proposal at Howard Terminal due to disagreements between the A’s and the city council over commitments to community benefits and affordable housing. The city also argues that insufficient funding from Alameda County will threaten the future of the $12 billion development and necessitates that the A’s agree to a 45-year non-relocation agreement. A’s President Dave Kaval would not commit to any of those requirements. Meanwhile, Kaval has publicly considered moving development to Las Vegas or another city that he believes will welcome and approve their plan.

Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena to be Redeveloped into "Hub of innovation"
The Sacramento Kings, City of Sacramento, and California Northstate University announced their plan to build a hospital and medical complex on the southwest portion of the Kings’ former Sleep Train Arena site in North Natomas. CNU will convert 35 acres of land into a teaching hospital, trauma center, and medical school, with demolition starting as soon as the end of this year. In addition to building 400 hospital rooms in the trauma center, the project could bring 3,000 jobs and housing to the area. Officials believe that the medical center will be a source not only of community care and health but of economic prosperity. CNU originally hoped to build its medical complex near I-5 in Elk Grove, but the proposal failed amid disapproval from the local community and environmental groups. CNU, the Kings, and the city champion project construction in this location, emphasizing that the medical complex will become a “hub of innovation.”

Southern California Agencies Dominate APA National Sustainability Awards
The American Planning Association celebrated multiple projects and agencies in California among its 2021 Awards for Excellence in Sustainability. Los Angeles County received the award for a Municipal, State, or Regional plan for its 2019 OurCounty Sustainability Plan, which prioritizes environmental justice in its approach. The APA honored the community-based program for its comprehensive and multifaceted goals, which include fast-approaching renewable energy and urban forestry deadlines as well as housing, clean water, and waste regulations. Meanwhile, the Southern California Association of Governments received the award for a Policy, Law, or Tool for its four-phase Regional Climate Adaptation Framework that centers public outreach and engagement. The APA honored the LA County Department of Parks and Recreation for its storm water project at Roosevelt Park designed to both enhance water quality and further engage community members in recreation.

USC, PolicyLink Identify U.S. Metros Furthest Behind on Rent
New data from national research institute PolicyLink and the University of Southern California Equity Research Institute shows that, while California does not rank highly among states with the highest shares of households behind on rent, the state does have two metro areas --Riverside-San-Bernadino-Ontario (22 percent) and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana (16 percent)--with high debt percentages. Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Alaska and Georgie have the highest share of renters with debt, each at 20 percent or more. At the opposite end of the spectrum, only 6 percent of renters and Utah and Maine are behind on rent. Coastal California residents, particularly in Central and Southern California, fared the worst. In Orange, Ventura, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Cruz counties, the average estimated rent debt per household all surpassed $5,000. Households in Santa Clara and Marin counties owned an average of $6,000. San Mateo county residents were hit hardest, with an average of $6,774 in rental debt per household. Data is available via USC's National Equity Atlas.

CP&DR Podcast: Cole to Lead Congress for New Urbanism
Rick Cole served as city manager in Azusa and Ventura (where he collaborated with CP&DR Publisher Bill Fulton), and in the past decade he served in the Los Angeles Mayor's Office and, most recently, as city manager in Santa Monica, from 2015 to 2020. The consummate Californian and longtime proponent of New Urbanist is now taking on a formal, national role, as the leader of the Congress for the New Urbanism itself. Cole official became CNU's executive director in May. CP&DR's Josh Stephens spoke with Cole about New Urbanism's influence on California, California's influence on it, and its prospects here and around the country now that it has gone from a radical upstart theory to a motivating force among many progressive planners, designers, and developers.

Quick Hits & Updates 

July 1, 2020 population estimates from the US Census Bureau indicate the pandemic trend of residents’ moving away from California’s biggest cities; throughout the year, Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Francisco all experienced population decreases, while San Diego’s population grew at a mere 0.2% in the past year, down considerably from its 9% growth during the decade. San Francisco, San Jose, and Long Beach were all members of the “largest one-year percentage losses.” 

A report from TransForm proposes a roadmap for BART officials on how to most effectively supply affordable housing and decrease traffic and greenhouse gas emissions. The report stresses that the most effective strategy for BART, which could transform about 250 acres of land across 27 of its 50 stations, is to not overbuild parking.

A study by American Forests proves a disparity in tree coverage in San Diego neighborhoods, with wealthier and whiter communities having more trees than low-income communities and communities of color. The study determines that the city would need to plant 4 million more trees in order to achieve tree equity, as trees provide shade, act as a carbon sink, and can minimize heat-related illnesses.

On June 2, Rancho Cucamonga City Council enacted a 10-month moratorium on new gas stations to contemplate the future of the city’s sizable number of gas stations considering the boom in electric vehicles and environmental justice concerns.

San Diego City Council will consider a proposal that would allow some businesses to use their parking spaces for other purposes and eliminate parking space minimums for businesses, which currently pay up to $25,000 per stall. The proposal, which officials hope will encourage walking, biking, and transit use, will only concern businesses located within a half-mile of a major transit stop.

On September 30, 2021, the suspension of public agency requirements associated with the filing and posting of CEQA notices implemented due to COVID-19 will come to an end as the pandemic tapers off. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order will, by the same deadline, end the 60-say suspension of time frames for tribal consultation when drafting environmental impact reports, negative declarations, and mitigated negative declarations.

The San Jose City Council unanimously approved a proposal to construct new office, apartment, and retail developments on the site of the city’s Flea Market, known as La Pulga to Spanish-speaking residents, that includes a plan to sustain the jobs of current market vendors who feared displacement. The agreement ensures that vendors will be able to operate on 5 acres within the new development and will receive a $5 million security fund when the current market closes for construction, though many believe that these protections are inadequate.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is proposing a “right to housing” ordinance that would both require the city to house its growing number of residents living on the streets and require homeless individuals to accept housing if it is offered. Housing advocates have voiced concerns that the law, which is awaiting approval from Sacramento City Council, does not center individual dignity and could escalate tent sweepings due to its obligatory nature.

The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation is monitoring the progress of California’s Transformative Climate Communities Program (TCC) through annual reports on five sites receiving TCC funding: Fresno, Ontario, Northeast San Fernando Valley, Stockton, and Watts. The reports will share how TCC funding has impacted communities, evaluate the success of TCC-funded projects, determine which policies should be implemented in the future, and consider how communities have changed independently of TCC investment. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Proposed changes to the City of Long Beach’s zoning code intended to increase affordable housing development have been approved by the Planning Commission and will head to the city council for review. The regulations would incentivize developers to build affordable units by loosening other requirements, including those related to parking and height. The changes will only concern neighborhoods zoned for at least five housing units and will be key in constructing the 15,346 affordable units required by the Community Development’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment from 2021 to 2029.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund and three California residents sued the National Park Service in San Francisco federal court for its construction of a decades-old fence at Point Reyes National Seashore that is responsible for the death of 152 tule elk — over one-third of the their population — who lacked access to food and water. The fence was intended to prevent resource competition with nearby cattle, but, with harsh drought conditions, the activists ask that the National Park Service provide food and water to the native elk species.

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