Court Delays Tejon Ranch Mega-Development over Wildfire Danger
Citing wildfire risk, a judge has blocked the construction of a controversial development as Tejon Ranch. The proposal to build 19,300 homes on 6,700 acres won final certification from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors two years ago, making the project look all but inevitable. But a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge rejected the county’s approval of the developer’s environmental report, citing wildfire risk and increased greenhouse emissions from vehicular traffic. Specifically, he found wind-driven embers to surrounding areas to be “problematic,” and ruled that the developer mistakenly claimed the project was part of the cap-and-trade program. The project’s developer says the decision will merely delay construction. The ruling denied 20 of the 23 claims raised in separate lawsuits filed by various environmental groups. (See related CP&DR coverage.)
Google Releases Community Benefits Proposal for San Jose Development
In a bid to gain approval from San Jose stakeholders, Google has offered $200 million in community benefits as part of its plans to build a transit-oriented village in downtown San Jose. The proposal, which has won over previous critics, includes money for anti-displacement efforts and affordable housing, and marks the first time Google has outlined specific parameters for its community benefits package. Google has said it will pay for 1,000 affordable homes on company-owned land. Additional affordable homes would be funded through special fees paid by the search giant or by Google providing the land for housing development at sites near the transit village. a $150 million community fund to combat homelessness, a 30 percent local hire goal for construction, and on-site field trips, career days and computer science workshops for students. The remaining $50 million in the fund would be spread throughout these other efforts, including local hiring, career exploration, and awarding design and construction contracts for the office buildings to local small businesses. (See related CP&DR coverage.)
Loss of Pro Soccer Imperils Sacramento Railyards Redevelopment
As of late 2019, Sacramento was poised to become the home of Major League Soccer’s newest expansion franchise, the arrival of which would mean a brand new stadium and redevelopment of long-neglected Sacramento Railyards. But last month, private equity billionaire Ron Burkle reneged on his commitment to back Sacramento Republic FC, the city’s professional soccer team. Without Burkle’s backing, the whole deal may collapse, and with it the brand new stadium and redevelopment of Sacramento Railyards that were part of the deal package. At jeopardy are thousands of new residential units, millions of square feet of retail and commercial space, and a 1 million-square-foot Kaiser Permanente medical campus. For now, those plans are very much in question unless the soccer club can find new financial backing. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
CP&DR Podcast: Single-Family Upheaval & Pending Legislation
A wave of cities throughout California, including Sacramento, Berkeley, and Oakland, have pledged to do away with single-unit zoning and permit duplexes by-right. It's a seemingly simple principle, but a potentially vast planning challenge. On the CP&DR podcast, Bill Fulton and Josh Stephens discuss this latest trend in planning and what it means for cities that have already adopted it and for cities that might be considering it. Meanwhile, the legislature is considering a raft of land-use bills that are as diverse as they are numerous. Bill and Josh look at some of the highlights.
Quick Hits & Updates
California’s Chapter of the American Planning Association released a report of the organization’s legislative platform for the 2021-2022 Legislative Session. The report designate seven areas as priorities for the upcoming session: housing, inclusion and social justice, hazards and hazard mitigation, infrastructure, CEQA, coordinated planning, and healthy, vital neighborhoods.
Legislation proposed by State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) would return oceanfront property in Manhattan Beach to descendants of a Black family that owned the land 100 years ago until the city seized the property. If passed, the bill would allow Los Angeles County to transfer the property back to the Bruce family.
The city of Sacramento, UC Davis and Oak Park-area activists reached an agreement Tuesday that will allow University of California to launch major development project Aggie Square with the investment of more than an estimated $50 million with the city and others to improve the surrounding community. The agreement calls for the city and Aggie Square developers to invest at least $50 million to be used to build affordable housing in adjacent neighborhoods. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)
A judge has ruled in favor of the Oakland A’s in a lawsuit the team filed against the state agency overseeing Schnitzer Steel, a company that opposes the team’s plan for a new ballpark at Howard Terminal. Schnitzer filed a suit against the A’s proposed project last year. Now the company may be forced to change operations to treat hazardous materials, an expensive proposition unless the company successfully countersues.
A 65-mile stretch of California High Speed Rail in Kings County will be delayed by at least two years, potentially boosting costs and jeopardizing the state’s funding plan. The notification of the new delay came from a major construction company, addressed to the California High-Speed Rail Authority; the company claims state delays in securing land are behind the delays.
A lawsuit filed by homeowners at the Hunters Point Shipyard against the homes’ developers over radiation contamination will be settled for $6.3 million. The suit, filed in 2018, alleged landowner Lennar and developer Five Point Holdings developed and sold about 350 homes at the site for about $1 million each, but kept homeowners in the dark about toxic radiation in the soil.
Scientists have pinpointed a long-overlooked portion of the southern San Andreas fault that could make “the Big One” less damaging than once thought. A newly discovered fault stand in the Little San Bernardino Mountains could mean that the inevitable damage will be spread over a larger area, inflicting less damage in any one locale.
New technical maps hold new details for how the land around Anaheim’s Angels Stadium will be redeveloped. The developer has nixed plans to build multiple mini-parks in favor of two larger parks; those are in addition to a showpiece 7-acre park. The first phase of development is expected to include a mix of homes, shops and restaurants, as well as some offices. New “mobility hubs” with drop-off areas for buses and rideshares, will be built on the edges of the site.
The Southern California Association of Governments announced grant awards totaling $1.25 million to 15 nonprofits and community-based organizations to promote equitable growth strategies. SCAG is dedicating $1 million of Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) grant funds toward the program, with additional funding from the California Community Foundation (CCF), the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Irvine Foundation.
California Forward, a nonprofit housing advocacy organization, released “Regions Build Together – A Housing Agenda for All California.” The report looks at the state through nine regional housing markets to identify the current state of affordability, distinct challenges, and opportunities that can be replicated or scaled up at a state level.