Revised Vallco Mall Redevelopment Wills Approval in Cupertino
The City of Cupertino approved a revised plan for a long-awaited mixed use development called The Rise, set to replace the former Vallco Shopping Mall. The project was one of the first SB 35 controversies in the state. (See prior CP&DR coverage.) The project, which has been in the words for at least six years and heavily litigated, will feature housing, commercial spaces and offices, with a focus on increasing residential units while reducing overall building square footage and height. The revised project will include 2,669 residential units, up from 2,402, and about two-thirds as much retail and entertainment space. Sand Hill Properties, the real estate firm behind The Rise, cites market forces as driving the need for flexibility and creativity in the project's design. Despite challenges in securing construction financing due to high interest rates and inflation, the project moves forward with approval from the city, aiming to blend urban and natural environments while meeting Cupertino's housing needs. The approved plan would fulfill more than half of Cupertino's housing obligations for the next planning cycle.

Port of San Diego Adopts Master Plan, 11 Years in the Making
The Port of San Diego certified the final environmental impact report for its master plan update, designating specific areas of San Diego Bay and the waterfront for various uses including maritime, recreational, and commercial activities. The Port Master Plan Update, governing the 30-mile waterfront of San Diego Bay -- encompassing 2,400 acres of land and 3,500 acres of water -- reflects extensive community engagement over 11 years, aiming to fulfill promises made to voters since the port's establishment in 1962 by enhancing public access, preserving natural resources and balancing development needs while providing economic opportunities. The plan calls for extensive upgrades to open spaces, including pedestrian access and parks. It also includes over 3,000 new hotel rooms. The update represents the first comprehensive revision since the plan's approval in 1981. With unanimous approval from the Board of Port Commissioners, the plan now awaits certification from the California Coastal Commission, expected by late 2024.

HCD Solicits Comments for Draft Surplus Land Act Guidelines
The Housing and Community Development department released draft Updated Surplus Land Act Guidelines for public comment until March 25, 2024, inviting specific feedback on proposed changes and their rationale, particularly regarding surplus land identification, notification procedures and disposal terms. These guidelines aim to address legislative changes and identified areas requiring updates or clarity since the initial adoption in April 2021, emphasizing the need for additional clarity and changes in light of evolving laws and challenges. HCD is facilitating public engagement through a webinar on March 6, 2024, to discuss the draft guidelines and receive input from stakeholders. The Surplus Land Act connects developers interested in building affordable homes with surplus local public land, requiring local agencies to notify relevant entities and HCD before disposing of surplus property, with all inquiries and documentation submitted through the Surplus Land Portal.

California Lawmakers Introduce Federal Housing Bill
California Congressmembers Rep. Ted Lieu and Senator Alex Padilla introduced the Housing for All Act, a bipartisan legislative package aimed at addressing homelessness and affordable housing issues. The legislation hopes to provide federal funding for both existing and innovative housing solutions. The bill would invest in already-established programs while supporting locally developed initiatives to combat homelessness. Key components include investments in affordable housing programs, homelessness prevention and support for vulnerable populations. The proposed legislation has garnered support from various stakeholders, recognizing the urgent need to address the housing crisis nationwide.

Commercial Property Owners Consider Adaptive Reuse
The Winter 2024 Allen Matkins/UCLA Anderson Forecast California Commercial Real Estate Survey indicates a potential rise in adaptive reuse of office buildings, with 21% of property owners planning redevelopment for multifamily, industrial and retail purposes over the next three years. The office sector recovery is expected to extend until the end of 2026, with decreased new development and complex leasing processes observed. Retail market optimism is growing, with 80% of respondents expecting demand to outpace supply, while the industrial sector anticipates continued strong leasing activity but foresees supply eventually exceeding demand. Multifamily development faces macroeconomic pressures, particularly in Northern California, with 68% of respondents reporting no plans for new development due to high interest rates and construction costs. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

CP&DR Legal Coverage: Berkeley Loses CEQA Case in Court; Davis Settles Builder's Remedy Case
The City of Berkeley has already gotten hammered in court over denying an affordable housing project that would be built on a parking lot over the remnants of a Native American shellmound. But now Berkeley’s going to have to pay as well. Invoking a previously little-used clause in the Housing Accountability Act, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch has fined the City of Berkeley $2.6 million – in addition to ordering the city to pay attorneys’ fees of $1.4 million. The money will be deposited into an affordable housing fund.

The notoriously slow-growth City of Davis has reached a legal settlement over the controversial Palomino Place project, agreeing to process the project as a builder’s remedy project instead of taking it to a vote, which would be required under the city’s Measure J voter requirement. The Palomino Place proposal originally consisted of 165 housing units on property currently designated by the general plan for agricultural use. The settlement agreement would not quite treat the project as a purely builder’s remedy application. Rather, according to the settlement agreement, the developer will increase its commitment for affordable housing to 25% of the project (45 units), while the city promises to process the project quickly, produce an environmental impact report, and act on the project by the end of 2024.

Quick Hits & Updates

$10.3 million has been given to the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County to purchase a conservation easement for Camatta Ranch, protecting a wildlife corridor for threatened and endangered species on California's Central Coast. This acquisition adds to the protected lands, covering 27,512 acres and safeguarding native habitat for numerous animal and plant species, contributing to the state's goal of conserving 30% of its land and coastal waters by 2030.

HUD has awarded nearly $4 million to support research aimed at accelerating innovative housing practices. Two California universities received the second- and third-largest grants, respectively. The University of California, Los Angeles, received $458,340 to analyze the effects of ADU legalization on rents, prices, and land values in California. The University of California, Irvine, will research the impact of state-level reforms on ADU development, particularly in relation to fair housing initiatives, with a $343,244 grant.

Development company Eldridge Renewal has submitted a formal application for the redevelopment of the Sonoma Developmental Center campus, proposing a mix of housing, retail, office space, green spaces and a hotel. The developer and the county are in disagreement over the interpretation of housing regulations, with Permit Sonoma -- the county's planning agency -- advocating for more affordable units and expressing concerns about fire risk and the layout of the development. Of the 930 units the developer intends to build, the developer contends that 124 must be deed-restricted units while the county is insisting on 232.(See related CP&DR coverage.)

Yreka adopted an updated general plan aimed at guiding the city's development over the next 20 years, incorporating input from over 450 residents gathered through public engagement events. The plan emphasizes fostering business growth, expanding housing options, improving healthcare access, promoting community gardens and addressing concerns such as housing affordability and healthcare availability.

After five years of effort to bring high-speed transit to San Diego's international airport, a final route and mode of travel won't be selected for at least three more years, frustrating local leaders who worry about funding opportunities expiring. Despite SANDAG staff's insistence that the new timeline doesn't represent a delay but rather a different approach, board members expressed dissatisfaction, emphasizing the need to expedite the process to provide efficient transit options to the airport.

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors unanimously rejected a gold mining proposal in Grass Valley, emphasizing the community's desire for environmental protection. Rise Gold's application to reopen the Idaho Maryland Mine, inactive since the 1950s, faced significant local opposition due to concerns over environmental impact and groundwater contamination. Rise Gold has threatened legal action against the county, claiming a constitutional violation and seeking compensation for the estimated $400 million in gold that it claims could be extracted.

A $7.2 million "catchment wall" will be constructed in northern San Clemente to address a landslide area and restore passenger train service through to San Diego, funded by the California Transportation Commission. The wall, similar to one built previously near Casa Romantica, aims to prevent hillside slippage, with discussions ongoing about the damaged Mariposa pedestrian bridge as a result of the landslide.

California voters approved the No Place Like Home ballot measure in 2018, aiming to address the state's homelessness crisis by funding permanent supportive housing. However, more than five years later, only a fraction of the promised housing units have been completed, highlighting challenges like NIMBYism, funding complexities and legal obstacles, according to an analysis by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Concord City Council approved rent control in a 4-1 vote, with a proposed citywide vote due to concerns about including single-family homes, although this motion could not proceed. The ordinance expands the Rent Registry and implements a Rent Stabilization Program for multi-family rental complexes built before Feb. 1, 1995, aiming to address tenant rights and landlord concerns in the community.

The California State University Board of Trustees approved a master plan for the Sacramento State Placer Center, a satellite campus set to accommodate 12,000 students in Placer County's Placer One development. Collaborative efforts with partners like Sierra College aim to facilitate dual enrollment programs, while discussions for a potential Forensic Sciences Laboratory highlight ongoing collaboration for educational expansion.

A study from UCLA's Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies examined the relationship between housing affordability and commute distance in Los Angeles-Orange MSA and the Riverside-San Bernardino MSA, concluding the importance of protecting and increasing the supply of affordable housing in job-rich neighborhoods located in more expensive, urban and coastal cities (Los Angeles-Orange MSA).