Concord Approves Latest Attempt to Redevelop Naval Weapons Station
City officials in Concord have tentatively approved a billion-dollar plan for the redevelopment of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station, aiming to transform the 2,300-acre site into a mixed-use, transit-oriented community over the next 40 years. Brookfield Properties' proposal includes 6 million square feet of commercial space, 880 acres of greenspace and more than 12,200 homes, with 25% designated as affordable housing. The project, expected to cost approximately $6 billion, marks a pivotal moment after previous attempts by other developers faced setbacks due to labor disputes and disagreements over the past decade. With the recent approval of a non-binding term sheet, Brookfield now has up to 48 months to negotiate a property transfer agreement with the U.S. Navy and finalize plans for the project's environmental impact, legal clearances and permits before construction can commence. Despite challenges ahead, the community's support and comprehensive planning efforts signal an optimism for the project's success. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

University to Lease Major San Francisco Redevelopment
Continuing a trend in which educational institutions are moving into underutilized urban properties, UC San Francisco is in advanced negotiations to become the main tenant in the redevelopment of San Francisco's Potrero Power Station, aiming to establish a clinic, precision cancer center and health tech incubator on a 50,000-square-foot parcel within the project. The mixed-use expansion onto 21 acres of former industrial land includes plans for 2,600 housing units, 1.6 million square feet of commercial space and a 250-room hotel. If approved, UCSF's involvement could mirror its role in Mission Bay, with aims to kickstart a vibrant neighborhood and fostering innovation in healthcare and research. Local officials and community groups currently view the project positively as a strategic opportunity for growth and development. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

State Loses Ground on Greenhouse Gas Goals
A new analysis reveals that California must significantly accelerate its efforts to combat climate change to meet its emissions reduction targets according to this year's edition of the Green Innovation Index, released by nonprofit Next10. Despite previous progress, emissions rebounded by 3.4% in 2021, setting the state further behind its mandated goal of emitting 40% less by 2030 than in 1990. Meeting this goal requires annual cuts of 4.4%, a pace the state has only achieved during recessions. Key challenges include reducing emissions from electricity generation, transportation and cement production, with the latter accounting for 2% of the state's emissions. While California has made strides in some areas, urgent action is needed to achieve ambitious climate targets and avoid falling short.

Costs of State High Speed Rail Continue to Mount
California's high-speed rail project, despite recent progress and excitement over its renderings, faces significant financial challenges as described by the High Speed Rail Authority in a recent hearing in Sacramento. With a $7 billion shortfall for the initial Merced to Bakersfield segment and an estimated $100 billion needed for the complete San Francisco to Los Angeles route, state leaders must soon decide whether to commit to the entire project or abandon it. The latest cost projections were shared during legislative hearings, with plans to begin electrified high-speed rail service in the Central Valley between 2030 and 2033. While efforts are underway to secure federal funding and complete environmental studies, uncertainties remain about the project's future funding and completion. Additionally, the project has faced rising costs, delays and litigation, prompting calls for stable and adequate funding to ensure its success.

CP&DR Coverage: Local Ballot Measure Roundup
March 4 local ballots included only a handful of local ballot measures, but a few of them were big. Voters in the City of Los Angeles approved a sweeping measure to make the city's streets safer and to facilitate active transportation through pedestian upgrades and a host of other improvements. In San Francisco, voters predictably approved a bond measure to finance affordable housing. Less predictably, they gave businesses relief through the curtailment of transfer taxes on commercial properties; the measure is designed to help the city's beleaguered downtown. A contentious slow-growth measure in Santa Cruz failed by a wide margin, and 91% of residents of the future City of Mountain House voted for incorporation. 

Quick Hits & Updates

The Sacramento City Council finalized its general plan update, aimed at building housing near transit, reducing car dependency, and slashing carbon emissions to combat climate change. The plan includes restrictions on new gas stations and drive-thrus, an end to parking mandates for new developments and incentives for electric-powered construction.

UC Berkeley's Terner Center for Housing Innovation is launching a new focus area to address the intersection of climate change and housing policy, aiming to provide evidence-based research to navigate the complexities of aligning housing and climate policies while advancing equity and affordability goals.

The Fifth Appellate District court ruled that Kern County's local ordinance for fast-tracking oil and gas projects violates California environmental law for the second time. The ruling prohibits the county from issuing permits for such projects due to deficiencies in the environmental review process, a victory applauded by farming companies and community organizations concerned about the potential impact on farmland and residents' health.

The Supreme Court of California is set to hear oral arguments April 3 in a case crucial to UC Berkeley's student housing project at People’s Park. The lawsuit filed by Make UC a Good Neighbor argues that the university failed to consider alternative sites for the project and raises concerns about potential noise impacts on the Southside neighborhood.

SPUR has compiled a comprehensive database of local land use ballot measures in California that affect housing production. These measures, enacted since the 1970s, range from urban growth boundaries to open space preservation ordinances. While many aim to curb urban sprawl and protect open space, they may inadvertently limit housing supply if not accompanied by incentives for infill development in urban areas. Additionally, measures such as zoning restrictions and voter approval requirements within city boundaries can hinder infill housing production, potentially worsening housing affordability and exacerbating racial segregation over time.

The Superior Court has ruled in favor of moving forward with California's Bay-Delta Plan, despite opposition from water agencies and other groups. The plan aims to protect the state's major rivers and creeks by setting limits on water withdrawals by cities and farms, with the goal of addressing the decline of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and supporting wildlife habitats. Although the decision is expected to be appealed, the court's ruling validates the State Water Resources Control Board's authority to implement measures to safeguard fish and wildlife while balancing economic interests.

The Chula Vista City Council unanimously rejected the option to implement Senate Bill 10, citing concerns over potential impacts on community character, local control, parking challenges and school overcrowding. Despite initial interest in exploring SB 10's benefits, the council opted not to pursue it, emphasizing the need for public discussion and a citizenry vote for significant development decisions. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Homeowners in Santa Cruz County are embroiled in a dispute with the county and the Coastal Commission over public access to a coastal walkway, which the homeowners have fenced off but authorities argue should remain open. The conflict, fueled by concerns over property rights and accessibility to the coast, has led to legal battles and tensions between residents and advocates for public access, highlighting broader debates over coastal access in California.

A recent analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts demonstrates a strong connection between rent prices and homelessness in American cities. The research compared homelessness and rent data from 2017 and 2022, showing that areas experiencing sharp increases in homelessness also saw faster-than-average rent growth, while areas with declining homelessness had slower rent growth.