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CP&DR News Briefs August 21, 2018: Transformative Climate Communities Funding; Prop. 13 'Split Roll'; Rail to East Contra Costa; and More

Noemi Wyss on
Aug 19, 2018
The Strategic Growth Council has opened Round II of the Transformative Climate Communities Program, which includes grants for planning and implementation. Funded through California’s Cap-and-Trade Program, TCC empowers the communities most impacted by pollution to choose their own goals, strategies, and projects to enact transformational change – all with data-driven milestones and measurable outcomes. The Final Round II Guidelines and the Notice of Funding Availability can be found on SGC's website. Staff will be holding a TCC Implementation Grants Application Webinar on Tuesday,August 28, 11:30 am-12:30 pm (Register) and a TCC Planning Grants Application Webinar on Wednesday, August 29, 10:00-11:00 am (Register). Both Implementation and Planning Grant Applications must be submitted by Oct. 30.

Prop. 13 'Split Roll' May Appear on 2020 Ballot 
Supporters of the bid to alter Proposition 13 increase taxes on commercial land announced they’ve collected more than 860,000 signatures to force a vote on the issue in the 2020 election. The initiative would boost property tax revenues from commercial and industrial properties by assessing them at their current market value. Property tax protections would remain unchanged for residential properties. According to an estimate from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the changes could net $6 billion to $10 billion annually in new property tax revenue statewide. Under this “split roll” businesses would have their properties reassessed to market values every three years or less. Proponents of the split roll want the revenue which will go to local governments and schools. (See prior CP&DR commentary.)

Movement for East Bay BART Extension Gains Traction
A newly-formed transit authority, Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority, is working on designing and building a rail link between the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station and Lathrop in the Central Valley. The authority’s governing board released its vision for the Valley Link between Central Valley to the East Bay/San Francisco. It includes a 10-station commuter line, with BART-like service in the Tri-Valley that could start carrying passengers in five to seven years. According to the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, more than half of Tracy residents leave the city every day for work with one-third commuting more than an hour in each direction. The project is estimated to cost $1.8 billion and would save with open air, track-level stations, similar to Amtrak stops.

UCLA Releases Data on Residential Displacement in L.A. County
The Center for Neighborhood Knowledge at UCLA Luskin released an online inventory and map of anti-displacement policies in L.A. County, and a map of neighborhood change and gentrification in Southern California. The anti-displacement policies map utilizes data collected between February and May of 2018 and reflects the groups first step in highlighting and better understanding the policies that can promote affordability and mitigate displacement of vulnerable populations. The findings thus far have been that despite a wide range of anti-displacement policies and strategies in the county, the coverage is fragmented and implementation is not equitably distributed. The urban displacement map reflects data first provided in 2016 and focuses on understanding neighborhood transformations. A key finding is that the numbers of gentrified neighborhoods rose 16 percent in the county between 1990 and 2015.

Quick Hits & Updates

The Sierra Club sent a letter to the Stockton Planning Commission expressing concern that a proposal for housing on 17,500 acres of agricultural land has been included in the General Plan update without any public discussion. The environmental group said that in 2016 city leaders agreed that the public wanted to redevelop vacant or underutilized parcels in existing urban areas in an effort to preserve much of the area beyond the city limits for open space and agricultural uses. The draft General Plan document suddenly states the “study area” has been rebranded an Economic and Education Enterprise land that allows for housing to support job generation.

The State Water Commission awarded $816 million in voter-approved bond money to build Sites Reservoir, the largest water storage project built in the state since the 1970s. Sites’ project managers weren’t please with the amount of funding for their $5.2 billion project. The amount awarded represents about half of what Sites’ backers were asking for. The project has been under discussion for decades. It would flood a 14-mile long valley west of Williams along the Glenn-Colusa county line with water piped 14 miles from the Sacramento River. If it is built, it will become the seventh largest reservoir in the state.

According to a report from the Atlas Hospitality Group, there are currently 182 hotels accounting for more than 25,000 rooms under construction throughout the state. This is a 40 percent increase over the first half of 2017. Of the 2,400 hotel rooms currently being built in Orange County, nearly 1,800 are in the City of Anaheim. San Diego County has seen hotel room construction increase 63 percent compared with the previous year.

Superior Court Judge Amy D. Hogue has rejected a bid by the nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation to block construction of two residential towers next to the group’s Hollywood headquarters. In the 18-page ruling, Judge Hogue said city officials followed the state’s environmental law when they approved the two towers. The project is expected to reach 30 stories and have 731 apartments.

Lime and Bird, two scooter-sharing companies, abruptly deactivated their devices in Santa Monica for a day and supporters swarmed City Hall in an act of protest. The move comes after City Council committee failed to recommend the companies for Santa Monica’s electric scooter pilot program, and instead endorsed Lyft and Uber-owned Jump. As part of the Day Without A Scooter campaign, Bird and Lime asked riders to protest the committee recommendation outside City Hall, just before a scheduled council meeting.

A coalition of activists filed a lawsuit in the hopes of intervening between an agreement made between the Coastal Commission, California Coastal Conservancy, and he Hollister Ranch Owners Association granting access to a section of shoreline in Santa Barbara County by select guided tours or those who can boat or paddle in. The deal received preliminary approval in May, but Judge Colleen Sterne said she was concerned the public was not provided sufficient knowledge of the settlement. Californians were invited to comment and more than 1,500 people emailed the Coastal Commission lambasting the deal. The Coastal Commission announced during a public meeting that the agency plans to ask the State Lands Commission to “explore all potential options” to obtain genuine public access by land to Hollister Ranch, one of the state’s least tarnished stretches of coastline. The State Lands Commission has the authority to acquire private property through eminent domain, but has never used this authority before. Other options would include land exchanges or negotiating new boundary lines.

Backers of a ballot initiative that would require public votes before most large housing developments could be built in unincorporated parts of San Diego County turned in petitions containing more than 107,000 signatures - but it may be too late for the measure to appear on the November ballot. The Safeguard Our San Diego Countryside petitions must be verified and placed on the ballot by a vote of the county Board of Supervisors by August 10. The Registrar of Voters has said repeatedly it is highly unlikely that it can have the signatures verified by that date.

The City of Costa Mesa and a local developer have agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle a pair of lawsuits filed by displaced tenants and affordable housing advocates. Plaintiffs challenges the city’s efforts to force the sale or closure of residential motels, a process which left dozens of families homeless. The developer also agreed to set aside additional affordable housing units in a complex under construction and the city agreed to put affordable housing units in a future project. Individual named plaintiffs were compensated $250,000 and $650,000 will go into a fund for distribution to those displaced from motels.

The South San Francisco Planning Commission recommended implementing commercial linkage fees to generate funds for the city’s affordable housing fund. City officials are still uncertain about the preferred rates. City staff recommends charging builders $5 per square foot of new hotel space, $2.50 for restaurant or retail square footage, and $15 for the same amount of office, medical or R&D space. However, some commissioners want to charge higher rates to generate more funds for affordable housing, while others say rates should be limited in recognition of the burden already placed on builders through other established fees.

After a 13-hour public meeting, the Coastal Commission approved Redondo Beach's harbor-rezoning Measure C, closing a six-year-long chapter in the waterfront saga. The Coastal Commission decisively chose to accept Measure C as it was passed by the voters in march 2017, disregarding recommendations by Coastal Commission staff to amend the measure’s language.
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