The nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists released a report and interactive tool that forecasts what parts of the country are likely to see regular flooding from rising sea level rise. Areas that are expected to experience frequent flooding by 2030 are northern parts of Huntington Beach and the peninsula in Newport Beach, Balboa Island, the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, the Port of Long Beach, residential peninsula near Belmont Shores, and neighboring Naples Island. These areas will experience flooding of streets and beaches in just 13 years, decades earlier than previously predicted. In the Bay Area, Alameda, Oakland, San Mateo, San Rafael, and South San Francisco will be chronically inundated under a moderate global warming scenario in 2100. In a more rapid warming scenario San Francisco, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Burlingame, East Palo Alto and Palo Alto could see chronic flooding in 2065. In the research, the scientists used high-resolution topographic maps, sea level rise projects, and tide gauges. The Union of Concerned Scientists predicted the number of US communities facing chronic flooding to increase by 83 percent, to 167 communities in 2035. The hope in releasing this report is to encourage cities and the federal government to adopt policies that will discourage building in flood-prone areas and enhance federal policies to support communities dealing with rising sea levels. The report does not include infrastructure plans in place to mitigate some of the effects of rising sea levels.
Legislature Narrowly Approves Extension of Cap-and-Trade
Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon proposed a new Cap-and-Trade extension plan and air quality program that was introduced in bill form last week. After weeks of contentious debate and uncertainty, the package, introduced as AB 398 and SB 617, passed with 28 votes in the Senate and 55 in the Assembly, each one more than the two-thirds needed in each house. The program funds a range of land-use grants, including Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities. The two-bill package includes AB 398 which sets forth the extension plan and AB 617 which would create a new air quality monitoring program. In addition to extending the program through 2030, AB 398 would establish funding priorities for how the state would spend auction revenues over the next decade and establish an Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee to report to the ARB and the legislature on the environmental and economic performance of the program. The new air quality program, AB 617, would require stationary sources to report annually emission of criteria pollutants and toxic air contaminants, require a statewide strategy to reduce air emissions in communities with a high cumulative exposure burden, and require local air districts that have not attained air pollutant goals under the Clean Air Act to expedite retrofits of industrial sources. Gov. Jerry Brown defended his efforts to extend the cap-and-trade program, which he says “if we don’t get it, it’d be a tragedy for California, and for the world.” The measure generated criticism from environmentalists and academics saying the package moved too far to the right in the hopes of appeasing industry.
Facebook Proposes Mixed-Use Campus in Menlo Park
Facebook has proposed a vast expansion of its Menlo Park campus, which would include 1.75 million square feet of office, 1,500 housing units, retail, grocery store, parks and plazas. Facebook has said it intends to set aside 15 percent of the units at below-market rental rates. The goal is to create a new mixed-use village that will provide services, housing, transit solutions and office space. The company submitted plans to the City of Menlo Park and hopes to begin construction in 2019. Construction will occur in phases, and the first will include the grocery store in the semi food desert, retail, housing and office hopefully completed in early 2021. OMA New York is the architectural firm designing the campus’ master plan.
California Public Lands Could Open to Drilling
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order that would open more public lands for oil and gas extraction, including millions of acres in California. The order calls for federal oil and gas leases to be auctioned off at least four times a year in every state where reserves are available. The order will also attempt to reduce the nation’s backlog of drilling applications through speedier approval of permits. Environmentalists worry this will end the de facto moratorium of no new onshore oil and gas leases on federal land in the last four years because of environmental fights. In California, this could intensify the push by energy companies to broaden drilling in the interior Central Coast region and the southern San Joaquin Valley. The action would apply to 700 million acres of underground mineral reserved managed by the Bureau of Land Management. This order, according to Zinke, is part of Trump’s broader “America first” energy policy.
Los Angeles River Restoration Gets Funding Boost
The 51-mile Los Angeles River will receive $100 million in bond money in the recently approved state budget for river projects. The money would come from Proposition 1, a water bond approved in 2014, with half the money funding projects in the upper part of the river and the other half the lower portion. Two public agencies, the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy and the San Gabriel & Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy will oversee the grant and award to projects. Cities and private organizations will apply for the funding, including River LA a non-profit working with Frank Gehry. The money will benefit less affluent communities to ensure all traditionally neglected segments of the river get their fair share. Revitalization of the river is considered a catalyst for redevelopment in central Los Angeles.
Report Warns of Effect of Housing Prices on Bay Area Jobs
Beacon Economics released a report contending that the Bay Area’s job market being disrupted from a lack of skilled labor and skyrocketing home prices. According to the report, job growth has slowed in Santa Clara County, East Bay and San Francisco because of lack of affordable housing and skilled labor. However statewide, California employment is expected to expand at a range of 1.6 to 2.2 percent this year. In 2016 job markets grew by 2.9 percent in the Bay Area whereas this year it is between 0.7 to 1.8 percent across the Bay. The East Bay has the highest growth in tech jobs with 4.1 percent compared to 0.8 percent in San Francisco-San Mateo and 3.7 percent in Santa Clara County. One of the major challenges is long commutes, and lower-skilled workers not able to afford housing.
Senate Bill 106 was approved by the state Senate last Thursday, within the bill was a measure that allows Marin County’s largest cities and incorporated areas to maintain extra restrictions on how many homes developers can build. Housing advocates criticize it as hindering affordable growth in the area. The County had an exemption until 2023 but this has been extended to 2028 because a report on an earlier measure’s impacts isn’t due until 2019.
The California state Senate approved, 27-12, a new fee on some real estate transaction documents that is expected to generate between $200 and $300 million annually for affordable housing projects. The $75 fee on deeds and notices, would be capped at $225 per transaction, and would exclude sales of residential and commercial property.
Updates & Quick Hits
Silicon Valley companies Google, Facebook, and Genentech are pushing for increased tolls for the Bay Area’s state-run bridges. The increases were first discussed in December at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission workshop, which proposed $9 for the Bay Bridge, which has congestion pricing, and $8 on other bridges. The additional revenue, estimated to be as much as $125 per year, would go to traffic congestion-easing projects like additional BART cars, BART service to San Jose, more high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Bay Area freeways more ferry systems and express buses, and the new Transbay Transit Center.
The City of Los Angeles is moving ahead with a study of the public health benefits and economic consequences of phasing out oil and gas development around homes, schools, hospitals, and other public places. Activists are hoping for a 2,500 feet buffer around where people live and gather, which California Department of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources estimates could shut down 90 percent of the city’s 322 active wells.
A coalition of 12 Bay Area water agencies introduced plans to expand Los Vaqueros Reservoir, one of the largest reservoirs in the Bay Area located in the hills near Alameda-Contra Costa county line. The $800 million plan would raise the earthen dam by 55 feet to 273 feet high and expand capacity from 160,000 acre-feet to 275,000, enough for 1.4 million people annually. The water agencies are hoping up to $400 million will come from Prop 1, and the deadline to apply under the measure is August 14; the remainder of the costs would be covered by customers of each participating agency. Construction may begin in 2022 and be completed in 2027.
The Imperial Irrigation District is using its power as the agency with the biggest water entitlement along the Colorado River to press California officials for their commitments to keep the Salton Sea from turning into an environmental disaster. The water district has been progressing towards a consensus with other water authorities and agencies. IID has warned the state that a credible, well-funded “road map” is needed to restore deteriorating shoreline habitats and cove up growing stretches of dust-spewing lakebed. Multiple agencies have worked together to create a 10-year, $383 million plan, which was sent to the state end of June.
Pres. Donald Trump’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year would end funding for the $12 million tsunami detection system completed in 2008. A House of Representatives subcommittee is expected to release more details of its own version of budget this week. The system has 39 sensors on sea floors around the world, which are tethered to floating buoys that communicate with the nation’s two tsunami warning centers via satellite. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
League of California Cities is looking for speakers and session topics for its 2018 Planning Commissioners Academy in Monterey April 4-6. The conference is for new and experienced planning commissioners, planning directors, staff and other interested officials that focus on current issues and topics that assist planners in their daily roles and operations within their cities. Proposals can be submitted online until August 14.
The City of Solana Beach has approved a new fee that would spread the cost of future transportation projects across all new developments. The change will add $15,714 to the cost of a new single-family home, $11,205 to a new apartment, and on a square-footage basis to new commercial and industrial development. It is estimated to roughly generate $19 million- which would pay for bike lanes, pedestrian paths, and other improvements for the increased traffic.
According to Los Angeles Metro, the one-year-old Expo Line reached its projected 2030 daily boardings this year. The rail line which, connects Downtown Los Angeles to the Santa Monica Pier, has an average daily ridership of 64,000. The first phase, to Culver City, reached its 2020 projected numbers in 2013.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved two ordinances intended to keep lower-and middle-class residents in the city. The first law lays out several proof-of-residency requirements for landlords evicting tenants saying they want to occupy a dwelling themselves. The second law requires developers of large properties to make 18 percent of rentals and 20 percent of condominiums affordable. Amendments to the second law include at least 25 percent of all new units have two or three bedrooms, and that 10 percent of those be three bedrooms. The other required that every below-market-rate studio set aside for a higher income tier be inhabited by at least two people.
San Francisco’s Muni Central Subway project may be delayed by almost a year if the construction contractor and the SFMTA do not catch up with ongoing construction delays. The nearly $1.6 billion project will give Chinatown its first subway, connecting the neighborhood to BART and the Muni subway network.
The timeline to develop a streetcar in downtown Los Angeles has been pushed back seven months to July 2021 at the earliest. The streetcar was originally estimated in 2013 to be ready for business in 2016. The new project cost estimates are $274.2 million, up from $250 million. At least $200 million could come from Measure M sales tax funds, but the money isn’t available until 2053 unless LADOT asks Metro to move up the schedule to release the funds early.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced 33 projects that will share $5 million as winners of the Knight Cities Challenge. The City of San Jose won for two projects: Local Color received $180,000 for activating commercial sites with a creative bazaar and Reimagining the City: City Designer for San Jose received $150,000 to ensure the city develops into a walkable, green and engaged metropolis by hiring a visionary chief architect.