Opponents of Housing Project in Livermore Seeks Relief from State Supreme Court
Save Livermore Downtown, a group of residents pushing back against an affordable housing project, developed by Eden Housing, for downtown Livermore, filed a petition to the California Supreme Court to review the appellate court's published decision in favor of the housing development. The questions posed by Save Livermore Downtown for state Supreme Court review center on the project's consistency of the general or specific plan for the project by the city of Livermore, and how much regard the court should consider such plans. They also posed the question of how much detail a city must provide in its approval of a project under state planning and zoning law. The group argues that there are many ways to consider the project inconsistent with Livermore's Downtown Specific Plan and land-use plans. The city attorney, when pressed for questions, pointed to the previous unsuccessful legal actions by Save Livermore Downtown. Eden Housing stated the group's efforts are only stalling the project after two years of lawsuits. Save Livermore Downtown has not released a pubic statement. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Nine Cities, Two Counties Receive Prohousing Designations
Jurisdictions of Emeryville, Fresno, Needles, Rancho Cordova, Redwood City, Riverside, Salinas, Stockton, Ukiah, San Diego County and Yuba County have joined nine other state communities as designated Prohousing. Announced this week by Governor Newsom, these jurisdictions are now eligible for funding incentives and additional resources through state grant programs to accelerate production of housing in the state. The jurisdictions previously proved their commitment to housing through "taking responsibility and committing to building their fair share of housing," as per Newsom's announcement. The jurisdictions must indicate a promotion of climate-smart housing development and policies, including, for example, up-zoning near job-rich areas to decrease commuter transmissions, creating affordable housing in historically-exclusionary communities and streamlining multifamily housing developments. The number of Prohousing Designation jurisdictions has nearly doubled in the last month since Newsom's last prohousing announcement. The incentives for the Prohousing Designation jurisdictions include advantages towards funding programs from the state's Housing and Community Development Agency. The jurisdictions are also eligible for the Prohousing Incentive Pilot Program, rewarding them with additional funding.

HCD Releases Online Tool to Map, Promote Fair Housing
The Department of Housing and Community Development released the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing Data Viewer 2.0. Assembly Billl 686, passed in 2018, codified the requirement that all state and local agencies take meaningful actions towards Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). The bill created requirements for all state housing elements to include assessments of fair housing practices, as well as reports of the relationship between available sites and areas of high or low resources and actionable programs. The AFFH Data Viewer 2.0 studies statewide projects related to fair housing enforcement, segregation and integration and maps racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty in the state. The AFFH Data Viewer's intended use is to "proactively combat discrimination and increase access to safe, affordable homes near jobs, schools, healthcare, and parks for all Californians."

Survey Reveals Housing Costs Departures from California; 45% Consider Leaving
The Public Policy Institute of California released a study of the number of Californians considering leaving the state, finding that 45% of residents state housing costs have made them consider moving. Three quarters of that group have said that they would leave the state to seek more affordable housing and lower costs of living. This number of individuals considering moving is double the number of studied residents in 2004, but the numbers have remained more or less unchanged in the last six years. In 2004, 15% of adults studied said they would seriously consider moving out of the state, contrasted with the 34% of adults studied this year. PPIC estimates that 407,000 residents actually left California from July 2021 to July 2022, while even fewer residents moved to the state. A study found that, between 2010 and 2021, 7.7 million residents left the state while only 5.8 million people moved to the state from other parts of the nation. The last few years of population changes in the state were particularly marked by the state's inability to gain college graduate residents or retain them. The state is now losing higher-income individuals at a record rate, with residents citing high housing costs (500,000 adults since 2015 name this as the main factor of leaving the state). It is also thought that conservatives in the state are more eager to leave due to political outlook.

CP&DR Coverage: Fulton on the Latest Prospects for CEQA Reform
A string of recent cases have illustrated the urgent need for CEQA reform. After a case involving UC Berkeley, Gov. Gavin Newsom promised action. And more recently, Sen. Scott Wiener – who has previously sought to end-run CEQA with bills like SB 35, which expand ministerial approval of housing projects – has now promised to take on CEQA more directly, promising that an upcoming bill would be “pro-housing, pro-climate action” and have a “strong coalition behind it.” We’ve been here before – so many times it’s hard to count. Soon there will be two or three appellate rulings beefing up requirements to analyze wildfire evacuation routes in CEQA documents, and eventually the state will incorporate that requirement into the CEQA Guidelines. This is pretty much happened several years ago with greenhouse gas emissions. That means it’s up to the Legislature to box in CEQA, because judges mostly can’t or won’t do it.

Quick Hits & Updates

Following Huntington Beach's federal lawsuit challenging the state's 53-year-old housing mandates, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Carson and Whittier filed jointly against the state. The four cities are suing over Senate Bill 9, which allows the construction of up to four units on one single-family lot. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

In the latest action of "Waters of the United States," Congress voted this week approving a resolution to overturn the Biden administration's newest protections to the country's waterways, citing the protections as environmental overreach and damaging to businesses.

In order to improve the living conditions of nearly 1,500 low-income tenants of the Skid Row Housing Trust, the Los Angeles city attorney requested a judge to appoint a receiver for the struggling housing nonprofit. The petition requests the 29 buildings be turned over to a receivership firm specializing in court-ordered nuisance abatement.

UC College of the Law San Francisco – formerly UC Hastings – is in the midst of developing an "academic village" in the Tenderloin District, claiming the over 1,300 units will provide housing for students and create more safety in the neighborhood.

San Bernardino responded to the accusations by the state over the Carousel Mall redevelopment plan, claiming city officials did negotiate with affordable housing developers prior to pursuing an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with the developer the city chose for the redevelopment plan. The city said that officials just did not submit proper documentation to the state regarding the negotiations. A full staff report will be presented to the state this month.

A study found that both San Francisco and Oakland homeowners pay almost half of their income on mortgage, almost double the percentage recommended by major banks. The study also found that homeownership in Oakland and SF continues to be stratified by race, with rates of Black homeownership falling in the last two years.

On the heels of an executive order, the city of San Diego created the Affordable Housing Permit Now program, expediting the construction of projects for 100% affordable housing or emergency housing shelters. The program also dictates the projects must be completed within 30 days of approval.

A group of tech-related families in San Francisco are forming a new political group with the intention to spend millions per year on ballot measures and candidates aligned with their views on transportation, education, housing, and the use of public places. The group, Abundant SF, will operate like a nonprofit with a potential political action committee.

The Santa Monica City Council voted to approve zoning changes in the city to implement their housing element to meet state requirements of 8,895 new builds, including approximately 6,200 affordable housing units. The changes encourage development in mixed-use and non-residential zones. The new zoning changes include measures to preserve the city’s neighborhood commercial districts. (See related CP&DR coverage.)