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CP&DR News Briefs July 14, 2020: $600M from SGC; Housing Loss in S.D.; Landlords vs. S.F.; and More

Robin Glover on
Jul 12, 2020
Strategic Growth Council to Disburse $600 Million for Smart Growth Projects 
Sponsors of 41 innovative projects that aim to address diverse needs in communities across California are set to receive awards ranging from $168,000 to nearly $30 million after the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) approved more than $600 million in state funding. Three community investment awards are funded by cap-and-trade dollars: Transformative Climate Communities, Climate Change Research, and Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC). The Wildlife Recovery and Resilience Planning Grant Program is supported by Proposition 84 funds. AHSC's $500 million award represents the largest allocation of affordable housing funding in California. Oakland, Riverside, and Stockton were awarded grants totaling $50 million to reduce GHG emissions in vulnerable communities. SGC awarded Planning Grants of $200,000 each to San Diego, Porterville, and Pomona; these grants help communities undertake integrated planning activities that help prepare them to seek implementation dollars from public and private sources. Among the awardees is the program's first Tribal applicant. The Yurok Indian Housing Authority will receive $11.5 million for a project that will integrate Yurok traditions while building 36 affordable housing units and expanded bus service. A full account of SGC awards are available on the SGC meetings page.

Tens of Thousands of Housing Units at Risk in San Diego
While most efforts to solve San Diego's housing crisis have focused on new construction, a 94-page analysis commissioned by the San Diego Housing Commission found that San Diego could lose as many as 36,200 of the city's existing affordable units if the city doesn't adopt strategies to preserve them. San Diego's affordable housing falls into two categories: government-subsidized units and naturally occurring subsidized housing, or NOAH. Of the 23,000 deed-restricted subsidized units, 4,200 of them are set to expire by 2040. Of the 47,000 NOAH, as many as 32,000 are vulnerable to demolition or rent hikes. The San Diego Housing Commission will use the analysis to determine which units to save with the $22 million set aside for that purpose in next year's fiscal budget. It would cost an estimated $86 million per year to save the 13,450 units that would be easiest to preserve. Councilwoman Monica Montgomery said the new analysis should spur city action. "We must do everything within our power to ensure that we are preserving affordable housing opportunities and investing in working families," she said.

Landlords Sue to Overturn San Francisco Pandemic-Related Eviction Moratorium
Property owners and landlords are suing to challenge San Francisco's eviction moratorium, which halts evictions from April through July and cancels any late fees or interest that may have arisen during nonpayment. The moratorium forces landlords to collect rent through civil claims or by hiring collections agencies--methods they say are expensive and ineffective. The law "would allow renters to live rent-free from March 2020 to potentially September and beyond," said president of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute. Supervisors have come out in defense of the moratorium, accusing landlords of cruelty during a difficult time. But it isn't clear how landlords, particularly small property owners who continue to pay interest and mortgages, can collect rent from people who simply choose not to pay. One supervisor, Dean Preston, added to the confusion when he claimed that "under our legislation a tenant is still obligated to pay their rent debt," even though courts--the usual avenue to enforce rent collection--are closed. Ultimately, the vast majority of tenants are paying their rent. One survey from the San Francisco Apartment Association found that 97 percent of renters have been paying rent on time. But for those who aren't, the suit puts them in a precarious position. "I think the lawsuit is dangerous for tenants," said Joe Tobener, an attorney at a San Francisco tenants law firm. "Anyone expecting to pay rent and keep a rent control unit should be super cautious to rely on the law."
CP&DR News: Talking Headways Talks to Josh Stephens
Jeff Wood of The Overhead Wire interviewed CP&DR Contributing Editor Josh Stephens about his new book The Urban Mystique: Notes on California, Los Angeles, and Beyond. Josh and Jeff hit it off so much that it became a two-part episode, peering into California's soul. Part I explores the availability of bars, opposition urban commentators, and historic propositions that might need an update to stay connected to the times; Part II coverers urgent topics such as race, housing as well as more lighthearted fare such as the Olympics, and LA in the movies.

Quick Hits & Updates 
In a closed session, the Oakland City Council decided to begin negotiations with the Oakland A's to sell the city's half-stake in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site. Sources close to the talks said the city's deal would mirror the county deal and net about $85 million spread out over a number of years.

After a pitched battle, multi-million homes won a citywide referendum over low-income senior housing in Palo Alto. Now, the long-awaited aftermath of the Orchard Park development has arrived: The first set of new single-family homes came onto the market in the middle of a pandemic that has chilled the sale of high-end properties. "The big question is, Where are the buyers?" said project executive Ted O'Hanlon.

A ballot measure allowing for taller and denser buildings near train stations was approved unanimously by San Mateo City Council. Voters will decide between the council-approved measure or an alternative that caps building height at 55 feet and density at 50 units per acre in most areas of the city while also requiring 10 percent affordable housing - and excludes exemptions for transit hubs.

Following a judge's injunction to either house or relocate homeless people living near freeways. the city and county of Los Angeles have agreed to provide 6,700 new beds over 18 months and spend $300 million over five years to fund supportive services. Priority for the beds would also be given to people who are 65 years or older or are considered medically vulnerable.

The Office of Planning and Research has updated the General Plan Guidelines to include revised guidance on environmental justice (EJ) in response to Senate Bill 1000. The updated guidance provides additional clarity on when EJ requirements are triggered and to whom they apply, and more guidance on how to engage with and address the specific needs faced by disadvantaged communities.

Six cities that were among those found out of compliance with Housing Element law in 2019 now have state-approved housing plans, according to an HCD announcement. Seaside, Trinidad, South El Monte, Canyon Lake, Wheatland, and Montebello have joined the 28 out of 47 jurisdictions found out of compliance last year that now have state-approved housing plans.
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