Los Angeles County to Limit Development in Fire Hazard Areas
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted a new Safety Element Update to the county’s general plan, which will limit new development in wildfire hazard zones, reducing regional risk as California braces for what could be another intense fire season. The update restricts new subdivisions in very high fire hazard severity zones and prohibits amendments that would increase residential density in fire- and flood-prone areas to reduce risks to people, property, and wildlife. County officials are celebrating the move to reduce sprawl and minimize construction of new power lines and electrical equipment that are frequently responsible for wildfires. The update will complement the Housing Element to provide safe, affordable housing while protecting natural habitats. (See related CP&DR coverage.)
Proposed Oakland Stadium Faces Two Lawsuits
Union Pacific and a coalition of Port of Oakland shipping companies, truckers, and other workers have filed two separate lawsuits against the city and the Oakland A's in Alameda County Superior Court over their proposed Howard Terminal ballpark and mixed-use development. While UP's lawsuit maintains that the project's environmental analysis does not adequately address the impact of a rise in vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians that would cross UP's tracks near the project, the coalition suggests that the report fails to consider how the new site would disturb cargo transportation. According to a law passed several years ago, the lawsuit must be resolved within 270 days of the project's approval. UP is demanding a specific plan to reduce rail, vehicle, and pedestrian conflicts and minimize congestion.
State Provides Guidelines for Implementation of "Duplex Law"
The Department of Housing and Community Development released a fact sheet on Senate Bill 9--the "duplex law"--intended to clarify expectations for local agencies, homeowners, and other stakeholders who are implementing the new law. The sheet reviews key aspects of SB 9 and answers frequently-asked questions. The release comes in response to complaints that the Housing Accountability Unit has received from 29 jurisdictions about SB 9. The department is investigating violations of SB 9 that may extend to violations of the Housing Element Law, Housing Crisis Act of 2019, ADU Law, and Housing Accountability Act, over which the HCD can enforce, alongside Attorney General Rob Bonta.
State Releases Climate Adaptation Strategies
California released its Climate Adaptation Strategy in response to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and a new snow survey that reported that the statewide snowpack dropped to 38 percent. The strategy is intended to improve resilience efforts by outlining priorities for protecting vulnerable communities, the environment, and the state's economy. Primary concerns include public health initiatives, a climate-resilient community, nature-based solutions, and coalition building. The strategy is innovative in providing success metrics and timeframes for nearly 150 actions. A copy of the document will be available as an interactive webpage to increase access to information that will be updated as progress occurs and new data emerges.
CP&DR Coverage: Attorney General Calls Out Housing Elements
Attorney General Rob Bonta has become increasingly aggressive on the planning housing front in the two weeks, warning two cities for allegedly violating state housing law and calling one county’s general plan to account on environmental justice issues. Most of the actions are the result of the “housing strike force” that Bonta created last November. At the time, he called housing “a fight I won’t back down from” and announced action to protect tenants’ rights as well as enforce state housing law. Two of Bonta’s warnings have been aimed at cities that have sought to make expansive use of the exemptions contained in SB 9 – the so-called duplex law – to shield themselves from the law’s impact.
Quick Hits & Updates
The Sacramento Republic FC released renderings for a proposed 12,000 to 15,000 seat outdoor stadium at the Railyards, which would double the size of downtown Sacramento. The $1 billion venue would host not just soccer events but Division 1 football, lacrosse, rugby, concerts, graduations, and other events and bring more housing.
A San Diego Housing Commission report that studies citywide affordable housing and proposes strategies to maintain affordability has won an Award of Excellence from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment officials, which awarded 18 housing and community development projects nationwide.
Oakland's universal basic mobility pilot program, which was introduced in November 2020 and provided 500 residents with prepaid debit cards to use for public transit, scooters, and bikes, has succeeded in making transit more accessible for low-income residents and residents of color, according a recently released evaluation. Additionally, residents stated that they drove alone less often and rode public transit more.
Los Angeles city officials have approved entitlements to build a $1.6 billion housing, hotel, and retail development called Angels Landing. The highest tower would reach 63 stories, and the project is headed for completion before 2028, with environmental approvals and affordable housing and labor deals already secured.
Three tenants won their lawsuit against Caltrans, who imposed an "inflation-adjusted price" on low-income tenants who wanted to buy their homes. The ruling will impact all 450 homes that Caltrans seized to build a defunct 710 Freeway extension.
While the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is sticking to its September 9, 2022 Revenue Service Date for the Central subway to Chinatown, a leaked report suggests that the opening will likely be delayed until December or into the following year. The original opening date was in 2018.
A 312-unit Newport Beach development will move forward after a judge upheld the city's environmental review process and rejected claims from developer Olen Properties Corp. that the city failed to consider noise, traffic, and air pollution burdens. The developer owns a 10-story office structure next to the proposed complex.
Gen Z renters are highly attracted to the San Francisco and San Jose metros, according to data from real estate consulting firm Yardi Matrix. Interest largely grew in the second half of 2021, as COVID-19 restrictions eased.