Sacramento County voters may decide whether to increase the county sales tax by half-cent to fund major road and transit improvements. Proposed by the Sacramento Transportation Authority, the tax could raise $3.6 billion over 30 years to be spent across the county. Much of these types of projects were previously funded by gas tax, which has been diminishing in the last few years. Placer and Yolo counties are considering similar taxes. Cities would be allowed to spend their allocation as they chose, but many proposed project have been listed. These include freeway interchanges, bike overcrossings, Sacramento's downtown streetcar, Elk Grove's intermodal train station and road repairs and widenings. The authority board will vote April14 to begin collecting signatures for a November ballot. The tax will be in place 2017 to 2047, overlapping for a few years with the current sales tax increase that was voted on in 2004 and will expire in 2039.
Los Angeles to Collect Developers' Park Fees
Los Angeles may shore up is system by which new development contributes funds to parks. Apartment developers in Los Angeles have skipped paying park-building fees, also known as Quimby fees, because of a technicality in the law. Quimby fees are charged on new homes on subdivided land while Finn fees are charged on housing units built on property that undergoes a zone change. The majority of the new rental developments do not require a zone change, and therefore no park fees are required. The planning commission has proposed that developers pay $5,000 for each apartment unit they build and $10,000 per unit fee on houses or condos built on subdivided land. These fees will be phased in over the next two years, and builders could receive credit for building parks on the properties.
Chargers Propose Stadium Financing Plan
The San Diego Chargers are proposing a 4 percent hotel tax increase to finance a new $1.8 billion stadium and convention center. Raising the tax from 12.5 to 16.5 percent will also allow $1.15 for publicly issued bonds for operations, tourism marketing and San Diego's general fund. Nearly $350 million would be the city's contribution to the football stadium, $600 million for the convention center and $200 million to purchase land. The remaining money for the stadium will be $350 million from the team and $300 million from the NFL. Now the team must begin collecting signatures to place it on the ballot for the November election. The complex would be owned and operated by the city, with the Chargers leasing the stadium for 30 years. The proposal is awaiting support from key leaders in the city such as Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Glendale Considers Freeway Cap Park
The City Council of Glendale has agreed to dedicate funds to a study for a 4-5 acre park over a section of the 134 Freeway. The study, which will cost $300,000, will examine costs, scope of building and open bidding for firms to apply. In one such project in Dallas, much of the $57 million park was funded through public-private partnership. Glendale council members have expressed skepticism about the project's ability to attract such large investors. Polls have shown that residents are in favor of the park, which would include walking trails, playgrounds and a concert space.
Phase One of Treasure Island Development Commences
Construction of the first phase of the $6 billion Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island redevelopment has begun. The first phase will include demolition of 40 structures and construction of new roads, utilities, and parks. The phase will feature up to 500 hotel rooms, 2,100 residential units. Infrastructure work alone will cost around $155 million and take nearly three years, while housing construction is expected to begin within a year. The entire project will take 10-15 years and include 8,000 residential units, of which 25 percent will be affordable. The developers involved are Lennar Urban, Kenwood Investments, Stockbridge Capital Group and Wilson Meany.
Bay Area Counties Among Least Affordable Rental Markets; Evictions Increasing
Real estate information company RealtyTrac analyzed 456 counties in the U.S. and found that Marin, Santa Cruz and San Francisco counties are among the top five least affordable markets. In all three of these counties, the average earner spends around 100 percent of income on monthly mortgages, insurance and property taxes. Another study found a rapid increase in evictions in San Francisco. Between March 2015 and February 2016, there were 2,134 evictions. There are multiple reasons for evictions, which can include owner move-in, asbestos cleaning, remodeling and taking the apartment off rentals to sell. The city has begun tracking buyout agreements, where the tenant agrees to vacate the unit for an agreed upon sum from the landlord.
Delta Tunnel Plan Hits Political Snag
In the ongoing discussion over the plan to build two huge tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority has demanded that two members of the State Water Resources Control Board, Chair Felicia Marcus and member Tam Doduc, be disqualified from a hearing because, the group claims, they have already made up their minds on the issue. The $15.5 billion project will re-engineer the water in the Delta, repair the fragile ecosystem and create more reliable water deliveries to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. Marcus and Doduc advocated for more natural water flow through the Delta, which leaves less available water for the contractors in the south. The two followed up saying the earlier ruling "should not be considered a final determination� We have not prejudged this issue." The state DWP and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the agencies that run the pumps currently, asked for two-month delay before hearings to resolve complaints before the lengthy hearings begin. While the two are supposedly not related, the tunnel project is facing criticism from both sides.
Rail-to-Water Ballot Measure Postponed
The proposed ballot measure to reallocate high-speed rail bonds to water projects has been postponed for two years. The sponsoring group, California Water Alliance, stated costs for obtaining signatures was too high and would begin collecting for the 2018 election. While this threat from potential election has subsided, there are numerous legal, technical and political challenges the project faces.
Developer Pulls Out of 2,200-acre Project in Concord
Catellus Development Corp. pulled its bid for a 2,200-acre community on the former Concord Naval Weapons Station in Concord. CEO Ted Antenucci wrote a statement to the city saying they had lost trust in the process and accused its competitor Lennar Urban of improper lobbying. City officials agreed to reimburse the $250,000 "good faith" deposit Catellus paid to be in the running. With Catellus leaving, Lennar will be the only firm left for the April 5 meeting to pick the master developer for the first phase of the project.
San Jose Approves �Grace Period' for Affordable Housing Policy
In 2010, the City of San Jose announced a policy to attack affordable housing: building 2,400 homes per year until 2022. Six years later, the city has not come close to reaching its goal. The law spent nearly two years in court being debated and all plans were placed on hold. The California Supreme Court voted unanimously in favor of San Jose. City council voted, 10-1, to approve a "grace period" for housing projects that were approved before June 30. The policy requires developments of more than 20 for-sale units to set aside 15 percent for moderate-income, which is between $74-89,000 annually.
State Launches Transportation Innovation Council
Caltrans and FHWA have created a council to oversee development of innovations in the transportation sector called California State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC). STIC is intended to promote a safer, more efficient and sustainable transportation system through pilot programs and other implementations. With aging infrastructure repairs are becomingly increasingly frequent and more costly; STIC is researching innovative new systems to drive economic growth and provide safer and more efficient transportation systems in the state.
Tribes Clash over Proposed Madera Casino
Three northern California tribes, led by the Chukchansi, are working with a congressman Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Oroville) to block a proposed Native American casino near Madera that is 40 miles from the sponsoring tribe's Rancheria and not on its ancestral homeland. The appeal is based on Proposition 48, backed by 60 percent of voters statewide in 2014, which forbids off-reservation gaming. According to Chukchansi tribal leader Claudia Gonzales, allowing the proposed casino off-reservation would provide a free-for-all including "farmlands, urban centers and even open lots in neighborhoods." Negotiations for a compact have begun between Gov. Jerry Brown and the North Fork tribe as congressional change seems unlikely during an election year.