California Forever Releases Renderings, Master Plan Map
The California Forever project in Solano County released aerial views and renderings of the proposed New Urbanist-influenced city, showcasing tens of thousands of homes, open spaces and renewable energy sources. Renderings reveal medium-density, mixed-use neighborhoods; the map depicts a community including mixed-use districts, districts for "making and manufacturing" and "industry and technology," and a buffer zone between the development and Travis Air Force Base, to the west. The project, aimed at transforming farmland into affordable, walkable neighborhoods, faces opposition from environmental groups and locals concerned about traffic and housing on agricultural land. Initial plans call for a community of about 50,000 residents, with long-term build-out at 400,000. The renderings and map cite neither an architecture firm nor a planning firm. California Forever seeks to gather 13,000 signatures for a ballot initiative to amend zoning codes, enabling the project to move forward. If successful, the initiative could bring 15,000 new jobs and $500 million for community benefits. Recent "guarantees" issued by the company include commitments to smart growth and promises to invest $400 million into affordable housing countywide and $500 million into economic revitalization of downtowns in the county's existing towns. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

State Program Seeks to Mitigate Damage Done by Urban Highways
California is launching a pilot program called Reconnecting Communities: Highways to Boulevards to mend historical divisions caused by highways in underserved areas. Governor Gavin Newsom announced the initiative, aimed at reconnecting neighborhoods in Arcata, South San Francisco and southeast San Diego/National City, emphasizing equity and community-driven solutions. The program, part of the Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure, aims to convert highways into vibrant public spaces and multimodal corridors, with Caltrans assisting communities in developing and implementing their vision. The Reconnecting Arcata Project aims to address transportation challenges caused by state highways through community-driven planning, with a proposed transit center and active transportation enhancements. The Reconnecting Southeastern San Diego and National City Project aims to improve transportation options in historically divided communities, partnering with local organizations to fulfill community objectives. The Connect4SSF Project in South San Francisco aims to improve connections between neighborhoods by addressing infrastructure barriers and enhancing access along priority corridors.

California Receives $235 Million in Federal Funding for Equitable Transportation Projects
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) Grant Program allocated $3.3 billion across 132 communities to support transportation projects enhancing access to essential services, promoting equitable development, removing or mitigating barriers caused by transportation infrastructure and prioritizing disadvantaged communities, totaling in approximately $235.4 million across 17 projects in California. The three largest projects in California include, in order of cost, "Removing Barriers and Creating Legacy - A multimodal Approach for Los Angeles County" ($139 million), "The East Bay Greenway Multimodal Project: Lake Merritt to Bayfair" with the Alameda County Transportation Commission ($30 million), and "SACOG Green Means Go: Green Zone Access and Equity Regional Planning Project" with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments ($22 million). "Removing Barriers and Creating Legacy" project by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority aims to reconnect communities and improve mobility ahead of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Major Disneyland Expansion Clears Hurdle
Disneyland's ambitious theme park expansion plan, known as DisneylandForward, has cleared a significant hurdle with approval from the Anaheim Planning Commission. The project, valued at over $1.9 billion, aims to revitalize the Anaheim resort over the next decade with new attractions, shops and dining options. Despite concerns raised by some residents about traffic, noise and Disney's treatment of its workers, the project received praise from city officials and Disney representatives for its potential economic benefits. However, critics have questioned the adequacy of Disney's contributions to affordable housing compared to projects elsewhere, urging the company to do more for the local community. The proposal now awaits final approval from the City Council, with the potential to reshape Anaheim's landscape and economy in the coming years.

CP&DR Legal Coverage: Clovis Housing Settlement; Coastal Commission Ruling on Central Coast
Almost a year after losing an important appellate court ruling in a housing element lawsuit, the City of Clovis has agreed to a wide-ranging settlement agreement that includes rezoning to accommodate 1,300 affordable units and a host of other efforts to promote affordable housing. The agreement ends several years of litigation between Clovis and Central California Legal Services over the city’s housing element and in particular the “Regional Housing Needs” zoning overlay district that allowed but did not require affordable housing. It’s the second settlement agreement in recent weeks dealing with a housing element dispute. Recently the City of Davis settled a builder’s remedy lawsuit, agreeing to move a mixed-income project forward with the voter approval typically required in the city.

A San Luis Obispo County can’t go forward with the second phase of a seven-lot subdivision – even though the first phase is already built. In an unpublished ruling, the Second District Court of Appeal has agreed with the California Coastal Commission that the three lots are located in a “sensitive coastal resource area” and do not have access to water and wastewater, even though they have the same water meters, sewer mains, and sewer laterals as the four lots included in the first phase of the project. San Luis Obispo County approved the project but the Coastal Commission overturned the county after bringing it up on appeal to itself.

Quick Hits & Updates

The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs will launch a new Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) program in fall 2025, aiming to train a diverse generation of professionals to address urban challenges like affordable housing and sustainability. The curriculum plans to integrate expertise from UCLA's Urban Planning, Anderson School of Management and Law, with a focus on urban governance, equity and sustainability.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved Beverly Hills' Housing Element, aiming to address state-mandated housing unit goals by 2029, with the plan advancing to the City Council for adoption. Key revisions include adding city-owned sites for low-income housing, facilitating Accessory Dwelling Units and reducing barriers to construct new housing, reflecting a collaborative effort with state authorities to ensure compliance and address housing challenges.

The City of Napa received certification of its Housing Element by the Department of Housing and Community Development, marking a pivotal step in addressing the community's housing needs. This milestone underscores the city's proactive approach to housing planning, ensuring alignment with the 2040 General Plan and emphasizing strategies to encourage diverse housing, protect existing units, identify suitable sites and remove obstacles to development while fostering transparency and community engagement.

The San Jose BART extension project is facing a cost increase of $600 million, bringing the total estimated cost to $12.75 billion, with a delay pushing the completion date to May 2037. The Federal Transit Administration attributes the increase to rising labor and material costs, as well as a shortage of contractors. Despite efforts to control costs, concerns persist, with some critics calling for a reassessment of the project's scope and expenses.

A federal judge in Los Angeles is seeking an independent audit of homelessness programs, including Mayor Karen Bass' Inside Safe initiative, amid concerns over the allocation of public funds and program effectiveness. The judge's request follows allegations by the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights of the city's failure to meet terms of a settlement agreement regarding homeless shelter beds and encampment clearances, with potential monetary sanctions of $6.4 million pending and plans for an audit led by the city controller underway.

The first round of funding through the Extreme Heat and Community Resilience Program is available! Part of the Integrated Climate Adaptation & Resiliency Program, the Extreme Heat and Community Resilience Program will fund planning and implementation projects that build resilience to extreme heat. Program staff and technical assistance providers are hosting a series of Application Workshops throughout the application period to help applicants navigate the Final Guidelines. On the Extreme Heat and Resilience Grant webpage, navigate to the “timeline” portion of the program webpage to register for a workshop.

The Los Angeles City Council approved a five-year, $10 million contract with Bike DBA Tranzito to design and operate Integrated Mobility Hubs, offering transportation options like bike- and car-sharing services in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and Long Beach. The hubs, funded partly by $3.5 million for capital costs and $6.7 million for operational costs, will provide first/last-mile connections with 13 locations near Metro rail stations, with additional Satellite Hubs and bike-share kiosks planned, catering to various user groups with varying pricing fees.

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) have seen a surge in production, with the number permitted annually in the Los Angeles metro area increasing from around 2,000 in 2017 to over 13,000 in 2022, offering potential relief for the housing shortage, but ensuring affordability for low-income tenants remains a challenge.

A new policy brief from SPUR studies San Jose's urban village plan, which aims to create livable, affordable neighborhoods near transit, aligning with the concept of "15-minute neighborhoods" where essential services are within walking or biking distance. The brief found that, despite its potential, many urban villages have not been approved, with most residential development occurring outside of these planned areas. SPUR suggests implementing six strategies to leverage the 15-minute framework for creating more inclusive and connected communities, following extensive consultations and research.

A proposal to build a new landfill and recycling center in East Otay Mesa in San Diego County, previously approved by voters in 2010, is now being contested by environmentalists, elected officials and community leaders who argue that it's unnecessary due to projections indicating existing landfills will last through 2053.

Los Angeles Metro's Link Union Station overhaul is undergoing modifications, reducing the number of new platforms and tracks due to budget constraints. The number of new platforms with access to run-through tracks--rather than those that dead-end at the station--will decrease from seven to four. The initial construction phase will focus on modifying Platform 3, with ongoing utility relocations and expectations for environmental clearances in fall 2024.

The Bay Area's Regional Network Management Council revealed design prototypes for standardized transit signs, aiming to enhance connectivity and customer focus across the region's transportation network. Featuring a three-color palette and simplified icons, the signage aims to establish a common identity for all Bay Area transit services and improve accessibility through a new mobile-friendly website.

California's Extreme Heat and Community Resilience Program received $20 million in funding and aims to enhance community safety from the escalating impacts of extreme heat through both planning efforts and implementation projects.