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CP&DR News Briefs September 6, 2022: O.C. Surplus Land Act Violation; L.A. Streets Measure; S.D. Transportation Plan; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Sep 6, 2022

Orange County Accused of Violation of Surplus Land Act
Orange County may have acted in violation of the Surplus Land Act when it chose to move forward with plans to construct up to 632 units of market-rate housing on county-owned land. The property, located next to Santa Ana College, currently holds a public health clinic and laboratory. While state officials are still investigating whether or not the county violated state law, its decision to prioritize a proposal that fails to include any affordable units suggests a direct violation. Meanwhile, county officials say that their proposal to fund new public health facilities with the market-rate housing rents would make the project an "agency use" and therefore not subject to the Surplus Land Act. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Los Angeles City Council Defers Complete Streets Ballot Initiative to 2024
Instead of approving the Healthy Streets Los Angeles (HSLA) initiative for implementation, the city council voted unanimously to send the measure to voters in 2024. Now, voters will weigh whether or not to add more bike routes, bus lanes, and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure. If approved, city planning officials must prepare to implement the Mobility Plan when a street is repaved or repaired. HSLA is also facing competition from Council President Nury Martinez's alternative "Safe Streets" measure. While "Safe Streets" is still going through the legislative process, many council members voiced their intended support of Martinez's equity-centered initiative that prioritizes low-income neighborhoods in the Mobility Plan implementation.

Ambitious San Diego County Transportation Plan Remains Unfunded
While SANDAG approved a $165 billion transportation plan intended to reduce carbon emissions back in December, the board has still not determined how to pay for it. Several officials oppose the mileage tax, while others believe the tax -- or some alternate funding source -- is necessary for reducing car and fossil fuel dependency. Meanwhile, the San Diego Planning Commission is pushing to rescind a requirement to study the environmental impacts of traffic and car use for new rural projects. Driving, and all of its emissions, would not be part of a project's environmental analysis, making it easier to construct rural developments without entirely understanding the project's impacts.

In "ParkScore Index," California Cities Rank among Best and Worst
In the Trust for Public Land's 2022 ParkScore index, San Francisco took seventh place, and Irvine took eighth, on the list of the best large city park systems, which considers access, acreage, investment, amenities, and equity. Specifically, San Francisco is one of two cities where 100 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk to an open or green space, and Irvine was praised for its placement of basketball hoops. Meanwhile, Los Angeles came in the 78th spot, Bakersfield came in 85th, and Fresno took 97th place. Notably, San Jose moved 10 spots up to 26th place. The report also noted that 85% of large park systems have taken climate action with regards to their green spaces, including urban reforestation to cool temperatures and solar panel projects to improve energy efficiency.

CP&DR Coverage: MPOs Anticipate $600 Million in REAP Funding
Funded by the 2019 state budget, the Regional Early Action Planning Grants of 2019 supplied the state’s MPOs with massive injection of funding to plan for smart growth and implement related projects. With the original round of REAP grants (retroactively named REAP 1.0), the state’s 18 MPOs have been able to spend, disburse, and allocate a total of $125 million statewide for planning initiatives. Those grants gave MPOs and jurisdictions broad latitude to spend on planning. Many jurisdictions worked on housing element updates, with an eye toward conforming with their respective SCSs. The grant deadline closed in January 2021, and funds must be spent by the end of 2024. The next phase, REAP 2.0, increases that figure fourfold—to $600 million.

Quick Hits & Updates

A new report that considers migration out of expensive California regions -- or out of state entirely -- suggests that the rise in income differences between regions and reduction within a single region may be forming a new kind of income division. In his data analysis, author Eric McGhee considers the many factors, including housing, jobs, and schools, that are impacted by migration.

The Petaluma Planning Commission has approved an environmental impact report for a housing development and will recommend that the city green-light the project. The commission approved a version of the project with significantly fewer homes than originally proposed. All will be single-family, though some will include ADUs.

The High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors approved construction of segments to Bakersfield and Merced. The two extensions will span 52.4 miles and cost over $85 million.

The HCD has notified Claremont that city officials' denial of an easement for a 33-unit housing project violates the Housing Accountability Act. The city must respond to the state by September 12th, and the HCD expects the city to approve the project.

BART officials expect construction on a tunnel that will carry trains to downtown San Jose to begin in 2024. The project includes four added stations across six miles and is expected to be open for ridership in 2030.

While record-breaking rent increases are making news nationwide, several significant California housing markets are seeing rent prices drop, signaling the potential for more relief throughout the country. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, and Sacramento all saw rents fall in July.