The Pismo Beach City Council voted to impose a moratorium on all new development in anticipation of a drastic drop in water supply next year. The moratorium, which is the city's first since 1988 and believed to be the first in the state in the current drought cycle, immediately halts all building permit applications for vacant parcels and requires redevelopment or building changes at existing properties to consume less than or equal to the amount of water currently used. The city did not meet its 24 percent water conservation target set by the state for the months of September and October. State officials have announced that it expects to deliver only 10 percent of the water it allocates to California cities as reservoirs are still well below capacity, contributing to the decision to enact the moratorium. If the city's anticipated water supply falls below two triggers -- 1,130 acre-feet and 850 acre-feet -- two more building restriction tiers will go into effect: one prohibiting any new building permits, and another requiring new commercial use and redevelopment of existing buildings to show that water demand would be at least 30 percent less than the year before the tier was triggered.
Fresno to Miss Deadline for 45,000-Home Expansion
The city of Fresno's plans to expand development into an area called the Southeast Growth Area have languished, as it appears that the city will miss agreed-upon deadlines with the county to build on the land within 20 years. A decade ago, the county approved an expansion of the city of Fresno by 14 miles to the south and east to build a projected 45,000 homes accommodating 110,000 residents, along with the already-built $23.5 million Clovis Unified elementary school. Now, with none of the area built out and the state calling for more infill development and less sprawl, some members of the Local Agency Formation Commission -- which approves future boundaries for cities -- are calling for a reduction of the size of the growth area.
SGC Releases RFP for Technical Assistance Pilot for AHSC
The Strategic Growth Council has released a request for proposals to provide direct technical assistance to disadvantaged communities interested in applying for the 2015-16 Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program. This Request for Proposal (RFP) is to solicit competitive proposals from experienced and qualified contractors who will be engaged to provide technical assistance and specific services to eligible participants through a contract(s) with the SGC for the 2015-16 AHSC program funding round. Selected contractors for the SGC Technical Assistance Pilot will provide direct grant writing, analytical, and project management support to applicants to ultimately achieve successful AHSC applications for projects benefiting disadvantaged communities that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The RFP can be found by looking for Bid #RFP SGC 15100 - AHSC Technical Assistance Pilot on the Bid Sync website.
Federal Transportation Bill Includes $26 Billion for California
California will receive $26 billion in federal funds for a variety of transportation projects as Congress agreed on a long-term transportation bill to raise federal spending on highways by 5 percent and transit by 8 percent in its first year. The bill, pushed through by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) and James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), comes just in time to avoid the expiration of the Highway Trust Fund. It lacks a sustainable funding source, all but ensuring that the funding deficit for repairs will be even worse when the bill expires in five years. Instead of securing a sustainable funding source by raising the 18.4 cents a gallon federal gasoline tax, which both parties have shunned, Congressional negotiators scoured the budget for obscure alternatives, raiding the Federal Reserve's cushion against bank losses to revoking the passports of citizens behind on their taxes by $50,000 or more in an effort to get them to pay up.
Newport Beach Bans Marijuana Dispensaries
The Newport Beach City Council voted to ban marijuana dispensaries and delivery services in the city in response to the state's Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, effective Jan. 1, which will create California's first statewide rules for growers and retailers. The state act forces cities either to take immediate action to enact rules or bans for medical marijuana, or to allow the state to become the sole authority for licensing and regulation. Newport Beach's municipal code previously did not address medical marijuana, but dispensaries have not been allowed to operate in the city, according to City Manager Dave Kiff. However, online searches found that several services say they deliver marijuana to people in the city.
Riverside County Considers Steep Development Fees in Eastvale, Jurupa Valley
A new proposal from a Riverside County water district would charge developers more than $5,000 per residential unit to pay the cost of water for homes being built in Eastvale and Jurupa Valley. The proposal from Jurupa Community Services District would first tack on a new $3,557 per-unit water resource fee charged to developers. "The goal of this new fee is to fairly apportion the cost of water supplies and sewer service between existing customers and new development," general manager Todd Corbin told the Press-Enterprise. "If we didn't do this, it's clear that existing customers would be subsidizing the cost of new development." The district is also proposing to hike existing fees developers pay to connect their projects to water and sewer systems. All in all, the costs to builders would rise from $13,170 to $18,983, an estimated 44 percent increase. The Eastvale City Council adopted a resolution formally declaring its opposition to the increases.
San Francisco Mayor Looks to Another Housing Ballot Measure
With San Francisco voters overwhelmingly approving pro-housing ballot measures in November, Mayor Ed Lee is convening a group of developers and affordable-housing advocates with the hopes of crafting a ballot measure for next year's ballot to increase the percentage of below-market units included in new projects. The city currently requires 12 percent affordable housing under 2012's Prop. C, which dropped the requirement from 15 percent. With development booming in the city, Lee said that the goal will be to offer developers benefits, such as raised height limits, higher densities, or fast-tracked approvals, to offset increased affordable housing requirements. While some projects in the city have agreed to go as high as 40 percent below-market-rate units, developers warn that increasing the requirements could halt the smaller projects that make up the bulk of the city's housing production.
Los Angeles Housing Authority Loses Section 8 Suit
A federal appeals court ruled that the Los Angeles Housing Authority's 2004 reduction in rent subsidies for about 20,000 poor people violated their right to due process. The court's ruling hinged on notifications of the cuts sent by the Housing Authority to Section 8 beneficiaries. Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt said the law requires the Housing Authority to give recipients a year's notice of possible cuts, and the notification fliers were so confusing and inadequate that the authority violated the recipients' rights to due process. The flier "uses the term ï¿½payment standards' six times without ever defining or explaining the term's meaning," Reinhardt said in the ruling. "A short and simple explanation, such as ï¿½this means that the Housing Authority has reduced the maximum amount it will contribute towards recipients' rent,' would have provided at least a small measure of clarity." The lawsuit came in a class action brought by the Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness.
Santa Ana Loosens Limitations on Accessory Dwelling Units
Santa Ana is updating city code to make it easier to build accessory dwelling units, or "granny flats". Current regulations limit second units to 750 square feet or one-third the size of the lot's main house, with at least one parking space per bedroom. Thpse rules don't necessarily match up with the realities of how people live in the city, Hassan Haghani, executive director of the Santa Ana Planning and Building Agency, told KPCC. He imagines "good-sized" granny flats that could house a small family with a bathroom and full kitchen. "We have an awful lot of square footage of unused space in Orange County in the form of single-family homes," he said. A neighborhood not interested in packing in more families could request to be excluded from the ordinance under rules currently being written by City Council staffers.
S.F. to Create City Department Dedicated to Homelessness
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced the creation of a city department that will group all of San Francisco's homeless services under one roof to streamline coordination and reduce clogs in the system. The new department, which may have as many as 30 employees, will inherit homelessness tasks currently performed by other city agencies, mainly the Department of Public Health and the Human Services Agency, and will oversee street outreach counseling teams, homeless housing services and mental health programs aimed at indigents. It comes as Lee plans to lay out his goal of spending at least $1 billion over the next four years to help 8,000 people out of homelessness. "I'm not going to...say I am ending homelessness," the mayor said. "But I will use that phrase to say that everybody who works on this problem has the goal to end homelessness for a single person, a veteran, a child, a family member. I want a department that is dedicated to that outcome every day."
Olympic Valley Withdraws Application to Incorporate
Efforts to incorporate the Squaw Valley area of Placer County ï¿½ also know as Olympic Valley -- have officially come to a halt, with organizers withdrawing their application from the county's Local Agency Formation Commission. Inocorporate Olympic Valley, the group heading the bid, said that it would withdraw because LAFCO's stance has been staunchly negative on the financial viability of incorporation. An analysis from the State Controller's Office agreed with 18 of the 31 concerns of the group and found that the proposed city would net $15 million in revenues over its first 10 years. The effort was largely launched to gain greater say over development proposals in the Squaw Valley area, including one 200-unit housing development for resort employees.
San Diego Council Member Proposes Alternative Infrastructure Plan
San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey unveiled an infrastructure financing plan for the next 30 years to secure $4 to $5 billion for neighborhood infrastructure needs without raising taxes. The plan would dedicate future sales tax growth for the next 30 years and savings from voter-approved pension reform for the next 30 years, and it would preserve half of all new major general fund growth for the next 10 years to finance ongoing infrastructure needs. Kersey, the chairman of the Council's Infrastructure Committee, said that the full council will take up the proposal next year so it can be ready for the primary election ballot, where it would need a simple majority of voters to go into effect. "I think if we look at the past history, city leaders have shown an unwillingness to invest in needed (infrastructure)," Kersey told the Pomerado News. "With a voters mandate, infrastructure will be a top city priority."