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CP&DR News Briefs September 8, 2020: SB 35 Cities; Pandemic Traffic; San Diego Density Bonus; and More

Robin Glover on
Sep 8, 2020
Vast Majority of Cities Remain Subject to SB 35 Streamlining Provisions
In the Department of Housing and Community Development's newly released SB 35 Statewide Determination Summary reports that all but 29 jurisdictions fall under some provision of SB 35, designed to streamline permitting for cities that have failed to meet their affordable housing goals. As previous CP&DR coverage reported, among the 29 places that have satisfied housing expectations are Atherton, Beverly Hills, Carpinteria, Menlo Park, Newport Beach, and Santa Monica. The majority of metros and counties--289 statewide--are subject to streamlining for proposed developments with at least ten percent affordable housing as a result of insufficient progress toward their Above Moderate income RHNA. 221 jurisdictions have made insufficient progress toward their Lower income RHNA, and are therefore subject to streamlining for proposed developments with at least 50 percent affordability. The latter category includes the state’s three largest cities: Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. 

Southern California Driving Dropped 80 Percent Early in Pandemic
The Southern California region, one of the nation's most congested metropolitan areas has experienced a significant decline in vehicle traffic, transit use and air travel since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the first comprehensive analysis of the coronavirus' impact on planes, trains, and automobiles in Southern California. The study, conducted by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), analyzed roadway, rail and air traffic in the six-county region during the early months of the pandemic. Among the key findings of this first snapshot: Vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) fell by nearly 80 percent in April from January 2020, then gradually increased beginning in mid-April as many businesses and public spaces started reopening. Total VMT is now nearing pre-pandemic levels. Transit ridership began dropping in March and fell sharply the following month--down 65 percent to 85 percent from the prior year. The impact on Metrolink ridership was the most dramatic--down 90 percent in April and May from the year before. Air travel suffered immediate and significant impacts--down 65 percent year-over-year in March and 95 percent in April.

San Diego Expands Density Bonus Program 
The San Diego City Council unanimously approved a Moderate-Income Housing Density Bonus that will complement the Affordable Housing Density Bonus program, which the council approved in 2016. As the law stood, projects could earn an affordable housing density bonus of 50 percent. The new rule goes further, allowing projects to use the moderate-income program to obtain an additional 25 percent density bonus as long as 10 percent of pre-density units are deed-restricted at 120 percent AMI or lower. While the city has had success in driving new affordable housing construction, that hasn't translated to middle-income units. The 2010 to 2020 Regional Housing Needs Assessment called for 15,462 middle-income units to be built over the ten year period, but only 34 had been constructed through 2019.

Quick Hits & Updates 
The governor appointed former Santa Ana City Councilmember Michele Martinez to the California Transportation Commission, and the commissioners elected Hilary Norton as chair. Both have strong support from active transportation and environmental advocates throughout the state.

The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) announced the completion and opening of the Downtown San Francisco Ferry Terminal Expansion Project. The $98 million expansion triples WETA's San Francisco Bay Ferry capacity in the city core, creates infrastructure for emergency response activities, and opens up new public space on the San Francisco Waterfront.

Metro Planning and Programming Committee board members will consider reallocating funds from the now-defunct High Desert Corridor freeway to a high-speed rail. The 63-mile High Desert Corridor freeway was planned to connect Palmdale in north L.A. County to Victorville in San Bernadino County. Metro's Measure M revenues, which total $170 million for property acquisition, plus $1.8 billion for construction, could now shift from freeway to high-speed rail.

An ongoing battle to keep a Costco Warehouse from relocating in Redding seemed to have culminated after an attempt to overturn the project's approval with a ballot measure failed. The project may yet be subject to a CEQA lawsuit, according to a Redding City Attorney. The Redding City Council unanimously approved the project in May.

Cypress is on track to be the first city in Orange County to resolve its "successor agency," which took the place of local redevelopment agencies in 2012. The decade long effort in Cypress will go to the county oversight board for official consideration. To dissolve, the law requires any successor agency to have all of their obligations paid in full, all litigation resoled and get the oversight board of approval.

Santa Ana, which has for years exceeded state-set affordable housing goals, is now set to relax standards to allow developers to built market-rate apartments in the city, while lowering affordable housing requirements. The local law, known as the Housing Opportunity Ordinance (HOO), by reducing the number of affordable housing units required in future projects, and lower the in lieu fee.

Most Californians support policies to address climate change, according to a new statewide survey from the Public Policy Institute of California, including laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Two-thirds say air pollution is a serious threat, with Latinos and African Americans most likely to say it is a health concern. The survey also found that majorities oppose offshore drilling and favor protecting marine sanctuaries.

Tenant activists in Santa Ana have failed to collect enough signatures to place a rent control measure before voters. A signature gathering drive for a local rent control initiative in 2018 also failed to get enough signatures, and Santa Ana voters rejected statewide ballot measure Prop. 10, which 54 percent of Santa Ana voters rejected.

Proposition 21, a rent control measure on November's statewide ballot, contains "false and misleading statements," according to a lawsuit filed in Sacramento Superior Court. At issue is a claim to "protect single family home owners" from new rent caps, and that Proposition 21 "encourages the construction of new homes."