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CP&DR News Briefs July 27, 2021: Residential Upzoning; S. Calif. Housing Prices; Transformative Climate Communities; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Jul 27, 2021

Report: Residential Upzoning Would Lead to Modest Gains
In response to the progress of SB 9, UC Berkeley's Terner Center for Housing Innovation released a study that indicates that, while the bill might increase housing supply, it will not significantly address the state's housing crisis. While the bill would legally allow up to four homes on many single-family lots, most parcels would not see any more units, according to the study. The bill could allow for 714,000 new homes, but construction has a lengthy timeframe, and it's unclear how many homeowners are interested in redeveloping their property. The Assembly Appropriations committee is set to vote on SB 9 by August 27, and if approved, it will head to a final vote in the Assembly. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Southern California Housing Prices Continue to Rise
Real estate markets across Southern California reached another all-time high in June, though the bidding wars of last year's market seem to be lightening up. Last May, the area's median home price set a record of $667,000, which June exceeded with $680,000. Last month, 27,012 homes were sold, compared to the 17,743 that sold in June of last year when the market was particularly stagnant. Experts suggest that prices continue to skyrocket because of the rise of the millennial buyer market, the demand for more work-at-home space, and low mortgage rates that are compelling the wealthy to buy out the middle class. At the same time, sales are increasing, which suggests that bidding wars are calming down as housing stock increases.

SGC Funding Supports Vulnerable Communities During Pandemic
The Strategic Growth Council’s Transformative Climate Communities Program has strengthened community response to the pandemic, according to reports released by UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation on the program’s impacts. Researchers found that, in the five underserved areas receiving TCC funding – Fresno, Ontario, Northeast San Fernando Valley, Stockton, and Watts – investment from the program paired with the prioritization of local knowledge to address residents’ needs quickly and appropriately. Some of the most valuable initiatives included food distribution, affordable housing construction, and displacement prevention. By identifying the most beneficial practices, the reports will be helpful in informing how to most effectively tackle other crises or goals, including climate action. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

No Clarity Yet on A's Fate in Oakland
The latest ambiguous development in the debate between the Oakland A's and the city over the waterfront ballpark and village construction at Howard Terminal is that the $12 billion project could still move forward. The City Council voted to continue negotiating with the A's but will require that the team accepts its affordable housing and community benefit demands, which the A's is still not interested in agreeing to. At this point, the A's will have to determine if they want to continue negotiating, though they still disagree with the the city's financial terms and are considering moving to different city such as Las Vegas.

CP&DR Coverage: Court Rules Against UC Berkeley Housing
In the latest legal wrangling over enrollment expansion at UC Berkeley, an Alameda County Superior Court judge has ordered the university to set aside its 2019 approval or a new housing project for students at the Goldman School of Public Policy. According to the local publication Berkeleyside, the city and the university may soon reach an out-of-court agreement on how to handle the impact of expanded enrollment – although a Berkeley residents group may challenge that agreement as well.

Quick Hits & Updates 

The Trust for Public Land is now $8 million closer to achieving its goal of purchasing Banning Ranch, a former oil field in Orange County, after receiving a grant from the state’s fish and wildlife department due to the project’s potential to restore a reliable, sustainable water supply and protect the area’s biodiversity. The conservationist group now has $68 million out of the $100 million required to transform the 384-acre oil field into a public park and nature preserve.

As soon as summer 2022, Santa Cruz County will open its 6,000-acre national monument, Cotoni-Coast Diaries, to the public in an effort to increase public engagement in recreation and preserve the region’s natural resources instead of developing luxury housing on the site. The federal Bureau of Land Management’s plan includes two entrance points along Highway 1 that will open 27 miles of trails to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders.

The Del Mar City Council will not seek certification from the Coastal Commission of its sea level rise adaptation plan from, which could complicate public and private development processes, including one for affordable housing at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. In addition to suggesting 22 suggested changes to the plan, the Coastal Commission disagrees with the city council over whether “managed retreat,” the process of moving property inland, should be included in the plan.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff’s will tentatively reject a lawsuit filed by the Samuel Laurence Foundation against the Coastal Commission over concerns about the environmental impact of radioactive waste disposal at the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station. While Beckloff still has 2-3 months to submit his final ruling, he noted in his tentative decision that, contrary to the belief of the Samuel Laurence Foundation, the commission’s approval of the permit to dismantle the plant is in line with its own regulations.

The Sacramento Local Area Formation Committee approved the City of Elk Grove’s annexation of 390 acres at Grant Line and Waterman roads, which will pave the way for international tractor giant Kubota to begin operations in and bring 300 jobs to the city. The annexation is awaiting approval from city council and the planning commission, and, if authorized, Kubota could begin construction by the end of the year.

Members of the Black Contractors Association of San Diego are calling on SANDAG to alter its plan to approve a project labor agreement platform that would impact billions of dollars in San Diego's future construction. The group has expressed concerns that SANDAG's platform would exclude Black contractors from construction opportunities.

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors is making it easier for the city to create the United States' first public bank after it unanimously approved The Reinvest in SF ordinance that will unite community leaders and financial experts to submit a business plan to the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation. Officials believe that forming a public bank will help San Francisco invest in economic recovery, affordable housing, and sustainable infrastructure.

The Biden administration reversed a Trump-era decision to halt funding for the California bullet train project after the state filed a lawsuit over the decision to take away funding. The settlement will reintroduce $929 million into the project, but officials are hoping for more federal funding to aid in the construction of the estimated $80 billion project that would connect Los Angeles to San Francisco.

A San Francisco developer who built 29 apartments in his approved 10-unit building in San Francisco's Portola District has agreed to pay the city $1.2 million and comply with city building codes. City Attorney Dennis Herrera is also looking into several other buildings that do not satisfy the city's requirements as part of a larger investigation into the city's Department of Building Inspection, which approved the 29-unit building.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved an environmental justice element for the city’s general plan, which will require the plan to consider the disproportionate impact of environmental harm on low-income communities and communities of color. The new element will call on county officials to ensure access to safe and livable communities for all when implementing its climate action plan and regional zero-carbon program.

Apple has officially spent $1 billion of its $2.5 billion pledge to tackle California’s housing crisis. The tech giant spent the majority of its first $1 billion on assisting first-time home buyers and funding affordable housing developments through the California Housing Finance Agency, while two homeless nonprofits, Destination: Home and Housing Trust Silicon Valley, received the rest of the money.

The LAUSD Board is considering a project that would build 2,000 affordable housing units for teachers and other employees in order to prevent shortages in the profession and to address previous conversations about how to make the most of underused land. (See related CP&DR coverage.)