CP&DR Podcast: Coronavirus; SB 50; Future of California Housing
Check out the March 26, 2020 episode of the CP&DR podcast.
Labor Dispute Kills Plan to Redevelop Concord Naval Weapons Station
Amidst a labor dispute impasse, the Concord City Council has parted ways with the developer of a massive Concord Naval Weapons Station massive mixed-use project. At 12,800 acres and 13,000 housing units, it was to be the Bay Area's largest housing development. "Both parties are kind of walking away," Mayor Tim McGallian said in an interview. Negotiations broke down between between developer Lennar and the Contra Costa Building and Constructions Trades Council. The disagreement spilled into public view at a meeting that drew crowds after city council was asked to step in to determine whether the labor agreement satisfies city-approved terms. The council decided not to confirm whether Lennar had acted in good faith or with whom Lennar could negotiate, and declined to continue Lennar's exclusive negotiating agreement. The city will be out $330,000 and will have to return any unspent money given by Lennar for the project. But pieces of the project may be salvaged; a new developer could use the specific plan drafted by Lennar, for example. "The project will still happen, just maybe not in its current form," said McGallian. "The whole thing is frustrating. But luckily we still have the ability to make it happen.” (Prior CP&DR coverage here and here.)
APA Asks Newsom to Extend Deadlines for Applications, Project Reviews
The California Chapter of the American Planning Association has issued several requests to Gov. Gavin Newsom to delay local government statutory deadlines in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that has left planners scrambling to quickly shift operations on-line. APA is asking for a pause specifically in requirements related to review and approval of development projects, housing elements, HCD Grant Programs, Public Records Act, and Solar Permits and Wireless Telecommunication Facilities. In addition, the association is asking to a 120 day extension of SB 35 deadlines and provide that a Notice of Exemption or Notice of Determination can qualify for the states of limitation specified under CEQA guidelines by posting notices on the agency's website while a local or statewide shelter-in-place order is in effect.
Newsom Curbs Evictions During Virus Crisis
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order banning the enforcement of eviction orders for renters affected by COVID-19 through May 31. The order prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent and prohibits enforcement of evictions by law enforcement or courts. It also requires tenants to declare in writing, no more than seven days after the rent comes due, that the tenant cannot pay all or part of their rent due to COVID-19. To be protected, tenants should retain documentation but are not required to submit it to the landlord in advance. And the tenant would remain obligated to repay full rent in a timely manner and could still face eviction after the enforcement moratorium is lifted. The order took effect on March 27.
Quick Hits & Updates
Former Housing and Community Development secretary Ben Metcalf will join the UC Berkeley Terner Center leadership team as Managing Director. Appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015, Ben led HCD during a period of expansion of the state's financial and regulatory reach into housing and land use matters following the passage of the 2017 Housing Package. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
The Oakland A’s' proposed Howard Terminal ballpark is once again facing a lawsuit, this time by a coalition of shipping, steel, and trucking companies that contends Gov. Newsom lacks the right to exempt projects from lengthy environmental review processes. The A's applied to certify the project for the fast-tracking process after AB 734's expiration date on Jan 1, opening the door for a lawsuit against Newsom and the City of Oakland, who are both named in the suit.
The Trump administration has sought to block California's climate agreement with Quebec, claiming that the carbon-trading provision is unconstitutional unless California seeks and obtains congressional approval. A federal judge rejected the administration's central claim within days of the hearing.
San Diego is a step closer to putting a $900 million housing bond on the ballot after a key committee voted to recommend the property tax, which would pay for thousands of subsidized apartments for veterans, senior citizens, the disabled, low-income families, and the formerly homeless. If passed by two-thirds of voters, San Diego would receive matching federal funds.
A new report reinforces a claim long made by progressive planners: more roads does not mean less traffic. Transportation for America found that over a 24-year period, 30,511 new lane-miles of road were added to the nation's largest 100 urban centers, a 42 percent increase. Traffic delays, meanwhile, rose by 144 percent. Population growth was 32 percent over the same time period.
The County of San Mateo purchased a picturesque mile of previously privately-owned beach property about eight miles south of Half Moon Bay. The city plans to build a fully outfitted public park with restrooms, hiking trails, picnic tables, interpretative signs, overlooks, and parking.
Los Angeles Metro board members have decided Whittier will be the Gold Line's last stop. An alternate plan that would have run tracks parallel to the 60 Freeway fell out of favor because of a wide range of concerns, including a flood plain, a toxic waste landfill, and a lack of connections to minority, transit-dependent communities.
The Riverside City Council rejected a 50-unit complex for homeless or low-income people on church property in a 6-3 vote, citing the size of the project and the 100 parking spaces (required by code) would disrupt the neighborhood. The project would have had 24 units set aside for supported homeless residents, 25 for low-income residents, and one unit for the manager.