State Lawsuit Against Huntington Beach Amended to Focus on Housing Element
The office of Attorney General Rob Bonta, with support from the Department of Housing and Community Development, amended the state's existing lawsuit against Huntington Beach. The lawsuit originally filed against Huntington Beach was on the grounds of the city's ban on the processing of SB 9 and accessory dwelling unit (ADU) applications. Since the bans by the city have been reversed by Huntington Beach City Council, the amendment to the lawsuit now covers the city's failure to adopt a housing element due back in October 2021. Huntington Beach City Council additionally recently voted against a recent state-approved housing plan to address affordable housing in the city. The housing plan would have zoned for almost all 13,368 units required of the city's Regional Housing Needs Assessment. A federal judge last week further rejected Huntington Beach's request for a temporary restraining order against the state for their failed compliance with housing laws.

San Diego Residents Sue over Reduced Parking Requirements
A group of San Diego residents are suing the city over the environmental impacts of accelerated housing developments. The group claims the city is allowing developers to build higher buildings with less parking behind homes. The lawsuit argues the city amended housing development requirements in an attempt to meet climate action goals in "Transit Priority Areas" without properly reviewing environmental impacts and impacts on communities. These "Transit Priority Areas" allow developers to build higher buildings without parking if within one mile of public transit. Earlier this year, the city voted to expand the distance from a half mile to a full mile. By doing this, the city allowed thousands of acres to be eligible to new apartments and accessory dwelling units (ADUs). The lawsuit alleges the city make massive changes to code without proper review. The group is asking a judge prohibits the city issue any further permits without environmental impact reports.

Terner Center Releases Database of New Housing Laws
The Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley released a brief on California's recent housing legislation and a database of every housing law passed in the state between 2017 and 2022. Since 2017, more than 100 new laws regarding housing production have passed in the state. The brief, on which CP&DR publisher Bill Fulton was lead author, features interviews with planners and lawyers to comprehend the impact of new housing legislation on housing production in the state. The brief serves as an attempt to connect new laws and housing production despite difficulties of gathering data on the subject. Furthermore, other issues impact housing production other than legislation, including production costs and availability of land. The brief serves to narrow down the scope and goals of recent legislation using real-life advocates and practitioners as touchpoints in the conversation. Both the brief and the database together serve as an overview of state housing legislation and the impacts of that on housing production today.

50-Story High Rise Proposed in Residential Neighborhood in San Francisco
Developers revealed a new plan for a 50-story skyscraper in the Outer Sunset district of San Francisco. The skyscraper would house 712 new apartments and replace a garden center and parking lot. 113 units would be affordable housing, and the site would features 100,000 square feet of retail space and a 212-car parking lot. The affordable units enable the development to take advantage of state density bonus law, according to developers. The skyscraper would join a neighborhood of two-to-three-story homes and tower over the rest of the neighborhood, likely causing pushback from the neighborhood. A previous proposed 12-story building in the area prompted a petition with 1,500 signatures to stop the plan, citing negative impacts on the soundscapes, livelihood of zoo animals across the street from the proposed site and psychological state of the neighborhood. The Outer Sunset has already been slated for more density development, and developers say the city needs to add 11,000 new housing units in the next 7.5 years to the area. Developers received a density bonus of up to 50% more units if there is affordable housing included. The Planning Department Chief of Staff stated he believes the plans are not in compliance with state and local laws.

CP&DR Coverage: Legislature Considers Deluge of Planning Laws
In recent years, legislators have coordinated to propose core sets of bills to promote housing production. Last year included the vaunted “Senate Housing Package,” most of which got signed into law. This year, in part because rough one-third of legislators were newly elected in November, bills covering housing and other aspects of land-use appear to be more of a hodgepodge, with a range of new and old approaches. Some, such as those that would increase funding for affordable housing, are bound to delight planners of all stripes; others, like Assembly Bill 1485, may strike fear in the heart of staffers and consultants who already feel overworked. Arguably, the most controversial bill comes from a predictable source—or, rather, it may be controversial because of its sources—Sen. Scott Wiener. SB 423 would extend in perpetuity his 2017 bill SB 35, which is scheduled to sunset in 2026.

Quick Hits & Updates

The Southern California Association of Governments Regional Council adopted its Digital Action Plan to help 191 cities and six counties across the region access broadband internet. Presently, more than 1.7 million Southern California residents do not have proper internet speeds or access to the internet. The plan will seek and secure funding, coordinate with local agencies and the public to bridge the digital divide, advocate for better data and gather information through technical and strategic studies to inform decision-making and the public.

Riverside is considering selling naming rights to city property, including a number of. downtown buildings. Last month, the city council voted overwhelmingly to hire a consultant to develop a Corporate Partnership Program to increase city revenue.

In a move to protect agricultural land from housing or commercial development in the central Imperial County, Oswit Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land obtained almost 2,000 acres of farmable land. The funding came from the California Department of Conservation's Sustainable Agriculture Conservation program, conserving critical agriculture acreage at risk of conversion to commercial or housing usage.

An oversight board in San Francisco proposed that $30 million of a $85 million transfer tax – enacted by voters in 2020 – should go towards housing for public-sector employees. The recommendation will now go to the city's Housing Stability Fund Oversight Board. The transfer tax is paid anytime a property changes ownership in the city.

A UCLA researcher studied the impacts of land-use regulations in San Diego and their impact on residential housing in high-risk areas with exposure to wildfires. The paper found zoning and land-use regulations prohibit residents from moving away from high-risk areas and will be exacerbated as climate change worsens.

A new analysis from a San Francisco policy research group and local chapter of the Urban Land Institute found that the destitute downtown area could once again see life with over 11,000 new housing units with the city’s funding assistance. According to the preliminary summary analysis, if 40% of the vacant areas in SF’s downtown area were converted, 11,200 new housing units could be created. The full analysis will be published later this spring.