CP&DR News Briefs September 18, 2017: A's Stadium; High-Speed Rail in Central Valley; Poverty and Housing; and More

Josh Stephens on
Sep 18, 2017
After over a decade of false starts, the Oakland A’s have selected a spot near Laney College as their preferred location for a 35,000-seat, privately financed ballpark to replace the Coliseum. The team is hoping to play their first game at the $500 million stadium in 2023. First, the team must negotiate and buy or lease the land from the Peralta Community College District, which owns the land. The site is off the 880 freeway, nine-minute walk from a BART station, and is on the edge of downtown Oakland. To appease the Peralta districts’ Board of Trustees the A’s are proposing housing and commercial space on an 8-acre Laney parking lot as well as a garage to boost the college’s parking capacity.

How Central Valley Cities Can Prepare for High-Speed Rail
Nonprofit land-use think tank SPUR released a report “Harnessing High-Speed Rail” about the need for Central Valley cities to capitalize on the great infrastructure investment of the state. Instead of becoming cheap housing for the wealth populated coastal neighbors, these cities must reverse years of high unemployment and disinvestment and become incubators for new companies looking for cheaper rents. Bakersfield has plans on how to reorient development if the HSR Authority chooses the city’s preferred alignment. Fresno has secured $70 million in state funds to encourage denser development downtown that includes more walking, biking, and public transportation.

California’s Poverty Rate Tied to Housing Costs
The U.S. Census Bureau released poverty rates and California has the nation’s number 1 spot, with 20.4 percent of residents facing economic hardship when living costs such as housing, taxes, and medical costs are included. The California Budget and Policy Center blames high rents for keeping such a large percent of the population in poverty. For instance a minimum wage worker would only be able to budget $546 a month for housing, but CBPC found that nearly two-thirds of Californians pay more than $1,500 for a two-bedroom. The U.S. Census Bureau Official Poverty Rate, excludes cost-of-living, puts California in 16th place with 14.5 percent of the population living in poverty.

Bay Area Resiliency Contest Picks Ten Finalists
Ten teams of multi-disciplinary experts have been selected for the Bay Area Resilient by Design project, a contest funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, which sponsors the 100 Resilient Cities program (see prior CP&DR coverage). The selected teams have a year to come up with solutions against the rising seas and other potentially catastrophic risks associated with the changing climate. The remaining teams were selected from 51 that applied to be part of the program. With funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and others, teams will spend the next few weeks touring several flooding hotspots throughout the bay. Each team will receive up to $250,000 to come up with a local adaption strategy for a designated area in the bay.

Lawsuit Holds Up Spending of Transportation Funds in Santa Clara Co.
A Saratoga resident's recent lawsuit is holding up money from a half-cent sales tax 72 percent of voters approved for transportation projects. The lawsuit claims Measure B’s language was unclear and misleading and that the BART extension will require a majority of the funding, an estimated $6 billion over 30 years. The original lawsuit was dismissed by a judge earlier this year but she appealed and now the money is held in escrow until the issue is resolved. Officials are worried some projects may be delayed 12 to 18 months. The woman suing the project worked as a planner for the City of San Jose and Santa Clara County for 20 years before teaching environmental planning at San Jose State. The VTA says the revenue from the tax would benefit nine areas, and although the BART extension will receive the biggest chunk, $1.5 billion, it is only a quarter of the estimated earnings.

Anaheim Declares Emergency over Homelessness
The Anaheim City Council voted unanimously to declare a public health and safety emergency because of the nearly 400 hundred of homeless people living along the Santa Ana River. The declaration of emergency would increase enforcement of laws and health and safety codes and create greater effort to get homeless people into shelters and eventually permanent housing. One such plan is the expansion of a county shelter and supporting county efforts in opening a second emergency shelter. However, some worry the proposal focuses too heavily on law enforcement and would disregard homeless people’s civil rights.

Quick Hits & Updates
The California Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal regarding Malibu’s appeal to restate a voter initiative governing chain stores in the coastal city. In November 2014, 60 percent of Malibu residents voted in favor of Measure R that would lead to a more aggressive response from city officials against the proliferation of chain stores. In 2015 Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ruled the measure unconstitutional. The city will now look at more comprehensive planning including creating a formula retail ordinance and Civic Center design standards.

The historic Angels Flight funicular in downtown Los Angeles has resumed operation for the first time since 2013. The twin cars, Olivet and Sinai, glide up and down Bunker Hill adjacent to the 153-step stairway.

The San Leandro City Council unanimously approved an agreement to settle a 2015 lawsuit filed by the Coalition for the San Leandro Shoreline against the city with Cal-Coast Development named as a benefiting entity in the lawsuit. The settlement requires the city to extend its lease agreement with the Marina Inn for another five years and the hotel must comply with the city’s living wage ordinance within the next 18 months. The living wage is $14.30 an hour with health benefits or $15.80 if no benefits are provided by the employer. In the lawsuit from 2015, the coalition alleged the city wrongly certified an EIR on Cal-Coast Development’s plans at the marina.

After an eight-month trial, a jury acquitted two San Bernardino County officials and a Rancho Cucamonga developer in which prosecutors accused them of scheming to secure a $102-million payout from a land dispute in 2011. The three were charged with bribery and conflict of interest, when in 2006 county supervisors voted 3-2 to settle with Colonies over the objection of county legal staff.

Gov. Brown announced three new appointments. Lisa Bates was appointed deputy director of the Division of Financial Assistance at the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Ryan Seeley has been appointed general counsel at the CA HCD where he has been assistant chief counsel since 2016 and served as attorney prior to that position. Zachary Olmsted was appointed deputy director of housing policy development at HCD replacing Bates.

September 15 was the deadline for San Francisco property owners to bring their apartment buildings up to current seismic safety standards. City officials estimate roughly one-third of “tier three” buildings-that is wood-frame structures between five and 15 units- have not submitted permit applications. The City has approximately 3,849 buildings in this category and 1,160 owners have not filed for permits and will be served a poster-sized “Earthquake Warning” placard. One contractor says he has four crews doing soft-story retrofits around the city and can barely keep up with demand.

NASA announced plans to build up to 1,930 rental housing units on the 45-acre Moffett Field with 10 percent set aside as affordable. NASA will begin looking for a private development partner and that individuals working or going to school on Ames-owned property would get priority on the new units.

Sacramento Area Council of Governments will hire a public relations firm to begin a “Transportation Ballot Initiative Stakeholder Listening Tour” less than a year after Sacramento County voter narrowly rejected a transportation tax. The transit funds from a tax would likely be used to expand bus service and replace outdate rail cars. SACOG and SacRT might team up together for a joint ballot measure instead of competing with one another. However, if either group (or both) tries for the 2018 ballot they would be competing with the City of Sacramento which will likely ask voters to extend Measure U sales tax for basic city services, including police.

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) and the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) are teaming up with APA California on a daylong workshop designed to provide guidance and promote best practices and lessons learned from state and local implementation. The session will be held during the APA conference on Monday, Sept. 25 from 9:45am to 4:45pm and will be free, however registration is required

Los Angeles Metro has released a draft EIR for the proposed East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor- along with four other projects funded by Measure M. The 9.2 mile high-capacity route will connect the Metro Orange Line in Van Nuys to the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station. The project is expected to begin construction in 2021 and open between 2027-2029. 
Valley Transportation Authority announced that the Milpitas and Berryessa BART stations will open June 2018. Earlier this year, officials said they were ahead of schedule and planning to open before the start of the new year. Test trains will begin running in the fall. Milpitas station is expected to have 20,000 new passengers and Berryessa 25,000 by 2030.  
Los Angeles City Council approved, 5-0, a new linkage fee on construction of single-family homes, offices, apartments and other development with funds going to the construction of affordable housing. The fee ranges from $1 to $15 a square foot depending on the type of project and location.
James Tong, an East Bay developer, was arraigned in federal court after being accuses of engaging in fraud to make illegal campaign contributions to Rep. Eric Swalwell. Tong used other people to make campaign contributions in his behalf with his money, allowing him to exceed campaign contribution limits.  The Department of Justice does not suspect Swalwell of wrongdoing or his campaign. Last year, Tong was convicted of violating the Endangered Species Act after he and his development company, Wildlife management, admitted to polluting a pond that had the threatened California tiger salamander and forging documents to hide their actions.
The nonprofit Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza raised $160,000 to hold a design competition to makeover San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Plaza. The group has selected three teams from 33 submissions. The plaza is estimated to cost $10 million, which would need to be raised privately.

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