State Awards $33 Million in Grants to Prohousing Cities
The California Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency and Department of Housing and Community Development awarded $33.2 million in grants from the Prohousing Incentive Pilot (PIP) Program to 18 jurisdictions that have achieved the Prohousing Designation. HCD awards the Prohousing Designation to cities and counties that demonstrate a commitment to tackling California’s housing and homelessness challenges by enacting Prohousing policies including, but not limited to, streamlining multifamily housing development, up-zoning in places near jobs and transit to reduce emissions, and creating more affordable homes in places that historically or currently exclude households of color and those earning lower incomes. The cities of Los Angeles and San Diego received the largest awards -- $5 million and $4.9 million, respectively. They were roughly double the next largest awards. The City of Sacramento ($2.5 million), Oakland, Fresno, Riverside, and San Diego County all received awards between $2.0 and $2.5 million. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

San Francisco Adopts Ordinance to Hasten Adaptive Reuse
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved measures to ease zoning restrictions and expedite the process and requirements for converting existing commercial buildings and flexibility for use. The restrictions for commercial buildings date back to when Union Square retailers intended to preserve upper floors of retail spaces for more expensive stores. The new zoning ordinance allows the upper floors to convert to offices, service, design and additional retail use. Ground floor zoning will now allow indoor and outdoor entertainment areas. The zoning amendments also allows for ease of converting offices to housing, a concept many believe will be a solution to Downtown San Francisco's decreased foot traffic. The Board of Supervisors President said in a statement the city will gauge interest block-by-block in Downtown to understand what building owners may be interested in converting retail spaces, while also offering connections between them to potential tenants or organizations. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

California Cities Get Mixed Reviews in Walkability Ranking
Smart Growth America's Foot Traffic Ahead (FTA) report found most metropolitan cities grew in walkable urban areas, ranking San Francisco as fifth in the country for walkable areas and Los Angeles as eighth of the 35 major cities studied. The study identifies changes in walkability in these 35 cities since 2019. The report used Los Angeles as a case study, highlighting the discrepancies in race and income, as well as income-segregated neighborhoods, ranking the city last on its Social Equity Index despite its wide range of walkable areas. The study found that 19.1% of the total U.S. real gross domestic product and 6.8% of the U.S. population are located in walkable urban places that represent just 1.2% of total landmass of the top 35 U.S. cities. The report seeks to present information on walkability publicly for advocates, community members, policymakers and researchers. The report ranks Sacramento 24th and San Diego 28th. The top spot went to New York City; the bottom spot went to Las Vegas.

San Diego County Adopts Measures to Promote Housing
The San Diego Board of Supervisors approved a number of measures to streamline housing development and increase housing projects in unincorporated areas of San Diego. The measure targets housing types like workforce, subsidized and emergency shelters, attempting to remove barriers. The city's Planning and Development Services director said the measures can guarantee building permit review times and provide financial incentives for development. The vote also includes a $14.5 million budget to implement the policy changes. Additionally, the measures include the plan to develop policies for tiny homes, pre-approved home planes and upgraded information technology over the next one- to three-year period.

CP&DR Coverage: Do More Housing Laws Equal More Housing?
For the past six years, legislators have worked feverishly to pass laws designed to ease the state’s housing supply crisis. In total, over 100 bills have passed since the 2017 legislative season. While many lawmakers have taken victory laps, the question remains, have these laws worked as intended? The Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley recently took on that question, producing a report entitled, “New Pathways to Encourage Housing Production: A Review of California’s Recent Housing Legislation.” CP&DR’s Josh Stephens recently spoke with the Terner Center's Ben Metcalf about what the report says about the legislature’s fecundity and the future of housing bills.

Quick Hits & Updates

Smart Growth America's newest study of local complete streets policies found Sacramento as 10th strongest the country by reducing traffic violence, improving health equity in their community and roadways, responding to the climate crisis and amending historic inequities of transportation.

Following San Bernardino's decision to cut ties with selected developers for the large Carousel Mall redevelopment project, the state Department of Housing and Community Development announced they will no longer pursue legal action against the city. The state's lawsuit previously claimed the city violated state law in their process of choosing a developer for the project, and did not make the property available for affordable housing.

A San Diego grand jury concluded the City Council's plan to utilize developer money from wealthy neighborhoods for infrastructure project in low-income areas lacks details. The grand jury did not comment on the legality or fairness of the plan, but stated the city needs concrete details on the implementation of shifting funds.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear oil companies' challenge to 2019 federal court orders halting fracking off the California coast, leaving the ban in place. The federal ban applies to water three miles off the coast, while Governor Newsom signed an executive order banning all fracking permits within three miles of the coast starting next January.

Both Cudahy and Buena Park recently adopted rent control and other ordinances aimed at protecting tenants. Cudahy adopted an ordinance prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants for renovations without first obtaining city permits. Buena Park adopted two ordinances, one capping annual rent increase at 3% and another offering relocation services for residents evicted without cause.

Think thank California Forward released a report with recommendations to voters and policy-makers to maximize federal infrastructure funding within the state, hoping to create equitable and climate-conscious infrastructure projects. According to the report -- written in collaboration with Governor Newsom's office -- the state can create $180 billion worth of infrastructure and approximately 400,000 jobs.

California could lose between 25% and 70% of state beaches by 2100 if climate change is not addressed, according to a yet-to-be published study by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey. The beaches face risks of coastal erosion and higher sea levels, potentially erasing up to two-thirds of state beaches.

A San Jose judge ruled against the Santa Clara Valley Water District and their plans for a $2.8 billion dam, concluding the district violated CEQA in its initial geological analysis. This decision follows numerous hurdles for the project, including a lack of secured funding and political opposition.

Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 341, creating a 20 year moratorium on new cardrooms in the state. Already-stablished cardrooms with less than 20 gambling tables can add an addition ten during the moratorium. The decision sides with indigenous tribes in the state in an attempt to not oversaturate the gambling market.

The developer behind the supportive housing piece of UC Berkeley's proposed student housing development at People's Park left the project, citing court delays. A spokesperson for the project said the recent court decision halting the $312 million project sets a dangerous precedent for affordable housing by dictating developers research the environmental impact of the "type" of resident occupying a building and their noise levels.

San Jose is moving forward in a plan to utilize robotic shuttles between San Jose Mineta International Airport and Diridon Station. The City Council initially approved the project partially funded by the city with an investment firm fronting some other costs. The project has already received pushback from transit unions.

According to a report by the American Lung Association, 98% of Californians live in communities with unhealthy levels of smog or fine particles. The Greater Los Angeles County area remains the smoggiest metropolitan city in the country. The city received an F grade again for air quality by the Association.

A new report by the Congress for New Urbanism highlights ten campaigns in North America to transform highways into walking spaces. The report showcased efforts behind the removal efforts of Interstate 980 in Oakland. The city, Caltrans and neighborhood organizations are planning and studying for a future without the freeway, which negatively impacts the surrounding environment and residents.