Google unveiled a "whimsical" proposal for a massive new headquarters in Mountain View designed by architect Frank Ghery. The plan, which would include new office space and public trails, has been met with skepticism by the Mountain View populace, wary of the increased traffic in the city of 75,000. The city has already approved 3.4 million square feet of expansion for Google, but now it is requesting 2.5 million more of "bonus floor area ratio," potentially allowed by the city in exchange for community enhancements. Now, it's in competition with social media site LinkedIn, which may set up an expensive and politically-charged fight in Mountain View's North Bayshore.
Oakland Welcomes S.F. to Export Affordable Housing
With San Francisco's housing pressures getting worse by the day, the City of Oakland may encourage its Bay Area neighbor to consider outsourcing its rental housing. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf wants to allow San Francisco developers to fulfill their requirements by building some affordable housing in Oakland. Such an arrangement could take the form of a regional housing partnership, though details now are slim. A spokeswoman for San Francisco's Mayor Ed Lee said that they are committed to making one-third of a planned 30,000 new housing units affordable in the next five years. The definition of "affordable" varies by city, with an affordable housing unit in San Francisco translating into about $500,000 for a two or three bedroom house in Hunters Point. Oakland has, historically, been considerably less expensive. Miriam Chion, ABAG's director of planning and research, told the San Francisco Chronicle, "I think Oakland and San Francisco have taken the current economic growth and development pressure as an opportunity to collaborate and address some of the pressing housing needs and needs for planning for regional job growth."
Fresno Approves New Water Source Project
Fresno's city council approved a visionary new plan to secure a steady supply of clean water for the city after several years of groundwater depletion due to the drought. The $429 million project initiated by Mayor Ashley Swearnegin would replace miles of old pipes and build a new surface water treatment plant. To fund the project, officials would have to raise water costs - possibly doubling the costs for a single-family residence from around $25 to $49 in 2019. Today, about five out of every six gallons used by Fresnans come from groundwater sources, which has helped to contribute to a sinking of land in the Central Valley.
New Transit Center to Sell Naming Rights for Construction Costs
San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center is taking a page from Chicago's book and trying to sell naming rights to some of its public spaces. In an attempt to raise some of the $300 million in construction of the center slated to open in 2017, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority is seeking to sell naming rights to private companies for various parts of the center. Sponsors can opt for a five-year deal to name certain areas of the center - including an amphitheater, the main plaza, and at least 13 gardens - or a 10-year deal to name the whole park.
Peninsula Watershed Could Open Its Trails to the Public
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission unveiled a new proposal to expand public access to the Peninsula Watershed, hoping to allow more hikers and bikers to use the Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail. The proposal shows a split within nature enthusiasts, some of whom have been clamoring for a loosening on the strict management of the watershed, and others who fear for the conservation of local wildlife and water quality. The new proposal comes as one piece of a larger system of improvements to the trail system in San Francisco in an attempt to plug a major gap in the 550-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail going around San Francisco Bay.
VA to Develop Permanent Housing for Homeless Vets
Following a lawsuit, the US Department of Veterans Affairs has pledged to open its West Los Angeles campus to permanent and temporary housing for the area's homeless veterans. It will also place returning service members in subsidized apartments in the city. "The challenge for L.A. even if we end veteran homelessness is we're going to have to maintain sufficient resources so we're not just creating housing but maintaining housing," said the executive director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. The secretary of the VA said that he will be sending $50 million and 400 workers to the region to improve veterans' conditions. The plan also calls for the VA to hire an urban planning firm to draw up a new master plan for the West Los Angeles property.
San Diego Reacts to Charger Stadium Deal in L.A.
San Diego officials are scrambling to find a way to raise funds to build a new stadium to keep the Chargers in town following a surprise announcement that the team was looking into a deal to build a joint stadium with the Oakland Raiders in Carson. The latest proposal for the $1 billion project: a county "bridge loan" proposed by Supervisor Ron Roberts, in which the county would front the money for the part of the project requiring public funds. The money would not need to be paid back until surrounding developments begin to generate a cash flow. Roberts said that the proposal would likely work better at the existing Qualcomm Stadium than at a new stadium downtown. San Diego taxpayers have, thus far, been reluctant to support funding for the stadium with public dollars.
Officials Want a Plan for Redevelopment of Kings Stadium
Officials in the North Natomas area of Sacramento are becoming anxious as the owners of the Sacramento Kings still have not announced plans for how to redevelop its current home when the team moves downtown. City Council Member Angelique Ashby recently requested that the team announce a timeline for redevelopment. A team representative told the City Council that the team planned to step up its efforts to find a use for the 200 acres surrounding the Sleep Train Amphitheater. "I don't want to wait until 2016 and the team is gone and that engine is gone for Natomas before we have a plan for how we're moving forward," Ashby told the Sacramento Bee. The Kings will move into their new $477 million arena downtown next fall. Many locals have advocated for a new hospital on the premises.