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CP&DR News Briefs November 3, 2020: Southern Calif. Housing; S.F. Bay Salt Flats; Padres S.D. Development; and More

Robin Glover on
Nov 3, 2020
50 Southern California Jurisdictions Seek Lower Housing Allocations 
The Southern California Association of Governments reports that 50 jurisdictions have filed objections to their Regional Housing Needs Allocations. The number of jurisdictions with appeals by county are Los Angeles (22), Orange County (18), Riverside (2), San Bernardino (3), Imperial County (1), and Ventura County was the sole county with no appeals. Garden Grove, Irvine, Newport Beach and Yorba Linda appealed separately to the allocation to Santa Ana. Notably, the Newport Beach appeal calls for Santa Ana to have a higher RHNA target but not, the appeal claims, to remove those units from New Port Beach's requirements. "The intent is to recognize the overall goal of the RHNA framework, which is to require housing in specific sectors of our region... SCAG failed to adequately consider readily available data related to 10,174 housing units approved and/or planned by the City of Santa Ana," the document reads. "SCAG should give credit where credit is due, which would thereby reduce regional allocations in surrounding communities.” (See prior CP&DR coverage.)

Ruling Protects Redwood City Salt Flats under Clean Water Act
A federal judge has overturned a Trump administration decision last year that said 1,400 acres of San Francisco Bay’s shoreline in Redwood City was exempt from the Clean Water Act. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “ignored its own agency regulations” and judicial precedent when it ruled that the site isn’t bound by the environmental law, wrote the District Court Judge of San Francisco. Attorney General Xavier Baccera and four environmental groups sued the Trump administration last year to overturn its decision, arguing that the area should be restored to tidal wetlands and would be unsuitable for construction anyway, given its vulnerability to sea level rise. Cargill Salt, the would-be developer of the property currently operates an industrial salt-making plant on the property, and has yet to issue a specific development proposal since their proposal to build 12,000 homes on the property was shot down ten years ago. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)

Padres to Build Mixed-Use Development Near Downtown San Diego Stadium
The San Diego Padres have won a bid to turn four city blocks, currently the Petco Park parking lot, into an urban square that will include 1.35 million square feet office space, 612 apartments, 50,000 square feet of shops, 1,600 parking spaces, and 236,000 square feet of open space. The Padres were picked over challenger Brookfield Properties to redevelop the 5.25-acre plot into a commercial office hub now being referred to as East Village Quarter. The campus, which is expected to be seeded with brand-name tech and biotech firms, could break ground as soon as 2023. The Padres' proposal best matched the city's desire for a catalytic project with ample public space, said Erik Caldwell, deputy chief operating officer on the city's Smart and Sustainable Communities Department.

CP&DR Legal: Conservative Rulings from Trump Judges in California
Pakdel v. City and County of San Francisco is the first significant takings ruling in California since the high court ruled last year that a property owner does not have to go to state court first in order for a takings case to be ripe for a federal lawsuit. Now, a group of conservative justices on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals claim that a recent ruling by their colleagues erroneous concluded that San Francisco made a final administrative decision on a condo conversion case – a prerequisite under case law for filing a takings claim. The language of their dissent, which says among other things that ruling “defies the Supreme Court’s authority,” appears to be aimed at getting the Supreme Court’s attention on an appeal.

Quick Hits & Updates 
Orange County Supervisors denied residents' calls to restrict private jet activity over John Wayne Airport, capping a years-long saga filled with corruption allegations. Long-term, 35-year contracts to service hundreds of propeller planes, helicopters and other non-airline aircraft flying in an out of John Wayne will go to ACI Jet and Clay Lacy Aviation out of John Wayne.
A draft update to the California Transportation Plan has been released for public comments. It addresses problems like induced demand, the historical practice of building freeways through low-income neighborhoods, displacement, and the need to reduce VMT and free people from auto dependency.
A long-awaited clean-up at Santa Susana Labs, a shuttered nuclear testing lab in the San Fernando Valley, will be smaller than anticipated, NASA announced. Citing the need for "less excavation" and cost, NASA opted for a plan that would leave 84 percent of the contamination untouched while half a million people live within 10 miles of the site.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the county's proposed By-Right Housing Ordinance. The ordinance will allow certain multi-family residential developments to be built by-right, in designated residential and commercial zones in the unincorporated areas of the County, and includes a rezoning program to ensure internal consistency. The ordinance also expands by-right review of density bonus projects.

The Newport Beach City Council unanimously approved amendments to the city's general plan and zoning regulations that would allow for over 400 new housing units and over 300,000 square feet of retail, office, and airport supporting uses. The site under discussion is currently developed for commercial use and is located in the "airport area" of the city's general plan.

Heatherwick Studio released plans for "The Cove", a project proposal which would transform Piers 30-32 at the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Plans call for two large, low-rise timber buildings with modular, flexible designs that form a horseshoe shape around an expansive public green space and promenade the designers are calling an ecological park.

Santa Monica City Council approved a bitterly contested redevelopment plan for the Miramar Hotel. The project adds 60 luxury condominiums on the top floor and a separate 42-unit affordable apartment building. The two opposing votes were cast by the mayor and a councilmember who opposed the luxury units the developer said would be needed to finance the $500 million project.

Crescent City harbor commissioners approved an updated Coastal Land-use Plan in August, but a commissioner is questioning whether the boundaries were drawn correctly. The plan is supposed to go to several other agencies, including the Planning Department and California Coastal Commission, but that process has stalled until the city and county can determine where the boundaries are.

Officials have green lit as many as 101 affordable housing units and 547 market-rate apartments or condominiums as part of the Oceanside Transit Center redevelopment project. The 10.2-acre transit center site will include construction of a nearly 40,000-square-foot office building that will house a 3,000-square-foot ticket counter, a bus island, and improved rail platforms, waiting areas, and other facilities.

A group of community organizers has filed a California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit against the City of Sacramento in regards to its plan to redevelop the neighborhood around the Marina Vista and Alder Grove housing projects. The Alder Grove housing project was the site of a landmark civil rights housing case led by Sacramento's first Black attorney in 1951.

The Coastal Commission approved Laguna Beach's request to add new regulations to short-term lodging, as the tourist town tries to address the influx of vacationers mixing into residential neighborhoods. The proposed plan will grandfather in about 100 existing, legally operating short-term rentals in residential areas, but any operating without a permit would be banned.

In a deal struck with the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, Jia Yuan USA Co. will pay the penalty and continue cooperating with the federal government in its probe of Councilman Jose Huizar and others in exchange for immunity from criminal charges. Huizar, as head of the City Council's planning committee, was involved in a quid pro quo, helping secure approval of the redevelopment of the Luxe City Center Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.