A's Spurn Would-Be Developer for Oakland Coliseum Site
The (likely) departing Oakland A’s turned down an offer from a local Black-owned development group to purchase their share of the Oakland Coliseum site. The A’s president declined the offer in a letter to the head of the African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG), stating their current lack of interest in selling their Coliseum stake. AASEG is in talks with the city to potentially buy or lease Oakland’s part of the site for a $5 billion megaproject featuring housing, restaurants and a new convention center. While the A’s initially had plans for the site, they later shifted their focus to Las Vegas. The A’s current plans for the Coliseum remain unclear, and a cooperation agreement with AASEG has not yet been signed. Meanwhile, A's endeavor to move to the Las Vegas Strip faces the potential of being subjected to a statewide vote in Nevada. A Nevada political action committee named "Schools Over Stadiums" filed a referendum petition, aiming to force a statewide vote on the use of public funding for the A's stadium bonds, which would require approximately 102,000 valid signatures to qualify for the 2024 ballot. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Two California Tribes Receive Federal Affordable Housing Funds
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a total of $128 million in affordable housing investments in 22 tribal communities, nationwide. The grants include $4.4 million to the Cahto Tribe of Laytonville Rancheria and $2.9 million to the Susanville Indian Housing Authority, both in California. The funds are designated to the construction of 14 new housing units for low-income Cahto indigenous families and nine affordable housing units in Susanville. Since 2019, 94 percent of funds from the federal Indian Housing Block Grant Competitive grants have gone towards the construction of new housing units to address the housing crisis for indigenous tribes across the nation.

Los Angeles Approves Spending of Funds Collected from Controversial Transfer Tax
The Los Angeles City Council approved a $150 million expenditure plan for funds generated by Measure ULA directed towards six programs for the first time since voted into law last November, including short-term emergency rental assistance, eviction defense, tenant outreach and education, direct cash assistance for low-income seniors and people with disabilities, tenant protections and affordable housing production. Notably, $23 million will be allocated to eviction defense, $23 million for income support for rent-burdened seniors, and $18.4 million for rent debt assistance. The first program to roll out will be an emergency rental assistance program, scheduled to begin on September 19. Measure ULA, often referred to as a "mansion tax" but applicable to all types of properties in the city, was initiated on April 1, imposing a 4% charge on real estate transactions exceeding $5 million and a 5.5% charge on sales above $10 million. To date, the tax has raised approximately $55 million, with the stipulation that the funds can only be spent as they accrue, thus requiring $150 million in tax revenue before the full allocation can be utilized. Despite $55 million in funding for L.A.'s housing crisis, the funds from the tax fall significantly short of early estimates -- which anticipated around $900 million annually -- due to a cooling luxury real estate market and homeowners' efforts to evade the tax. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

PPIC Survey Shows Conflicting Sentiments on Housing, Environment
Recent surveys by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reveal conflicting opinions among California residents on the state housing crisis, despite ongoing efforts to address it. Many Californians want the state to ease environmental and land use restrictions to boost housing supply, even as a significant portion believes the restrictions should remain the same, even if it increases housing costs. The sentiment is strong across the state, except for the San Francisco Bay Area, where opinions are divided. Renters are more supportive of easing restrictions than homeowners. A majority of Californians also favor changing regulations under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to make housing more affordable. Democrats, independents and residents from various regions support the California Legislature requiring local governments to build affordable housing, while Republicans prefer local governments to decide housing policy. Despite the demand for affordable housing, 71% of Californians prefer single-family homes over condos or townhomes, even if it means relying on cars for commuting.

CP&DR Coverage: Fulton on "Creative" Interpretations of CEQA
The California Environmental Quality Act plays a unique role in California planning and development. Depending on your point of view, it’s either the one thing standing in the way of destruction of your neighborhood or the one thing standing in the way of providing needed housing. As we recently reported, both sides of the CEQA debate often use CEQA litigation – either the supposed prevalence of it or the supposed rareness of it – to defend their point of view. But, whichever side of the issue you are on, CEQA continues to operate as the “big dog” of California planning, overshadowing almost everything else in sight. But lately, we’ve seen California’s appellate courts having to deal with more creativity than usual.

Quick Hits & Updates

Two landowners in East Elliott, a once-planned housing development area in eastern San Diego, contend that the city's classification of the region as open space has resulted in substantial financial losses and worsened the housing crisis. Their lawsuit argues that historical agreements from the 1960s with the federal government, aimed at transforming East Elliott into a residential neighborhood, should invalidate the city's 1997 decision to designate it as open space, potentially posing significant financial consequences for the city if the lawsuit prevails.

On Wednesday, the California Water Resources Control Board rejected Cemex's plea to reconsider the agency's decision to re-notify an old water permit application by the Mexican mining company. The water permit, crucial for Cemex's long-standing efforts to establish a large mine, has been a major obstacle, with community concerns and opposition from the city, residents, environmentalists, and state legislators delaying the project since its initial permit issuance in 1991.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army have jointly issued a new regulation significantly reducing the extent of federally protected water in response to a Supreme Court decision in May that curtailed protections for US wetlands. This new rule, which redefines the scope of "waters of the United States," excludes wetlands and smaller tributaries from protection, potentially affecting up to 63% of US wetlands by acreage and around 1.2 million to 4.9 million miles of streams.

Los Angeles Metro unveiled its updated Active Transportation Strategic Plan, aiming to connect passengers walking, biking or rolling to and from transit facilities. The plan includes projects to improve pedestrian crossings, enhance bikeways and create safer walkways in underserved communities, but it faces funding challenges, with regional bikeways alone estimated to cost $36 billion, four times the agency's annual budget.

A committee has formed in Marin County in order to designate the area as a Dark Sky Reserve under the International Dark-Sky Association, combatting light pollution. The committee identifies non-compliant lighting in the area to preserve wildlife and human wellbeing.

The Fremont City Council unanimously approved the purchase of a 23,000-square-foot office building to rebuilding as a potential new city hall, consolidating operations and using thee current city hall into a mixed-use housing development.