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CP&DR News Briefs August 3, 2021: Los Angeles Homelessness; San Diego Arena; Congestion Pricing in S.F.; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Aug 3, 2021

Los Angeles Cracks Down on Homelessness
The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-2 to criminalize homeless encampments around parks, libraries, and other public facilities in areas approved by the council despite substantial objection to the ordinance. The councilmembers who approved the ordinance maintained that the city would offer shelter and other services before law enforcement gets involved, though it's unclear how much and when. The two councilmembers who voted against the ordinance, in addition to homeless advocates, voiced concerns that there is not enough housing for those living on the streets, and forcing people into shelters is inhumane. The measure will head to Mayor Eric Garcetti, who will likely approve it.

San Diego Arena Reconsiders Arena Redevelopment
San Diego's effort to redevelop the Pechanga Arena with adequate affordable housing is back in action after the city had to abandon its partnership with developer Brookfield + ASM Global Development. The Department of Housing and Community Development determined that the previous plan violated the Surplus Land Act because it does not dedicate excess government-owned land to affordable housing. The city's new plan would again classify the excess land under the Surplus Land Act but also propose that any new development come with a renovated arena. If approved, any affordable housing developers from a state list can choose to build on the property, and if they reject the opportunity, another group, including Brookfield, could develop the property with 15 percent affordable housing.

San Francisco Considers Income-Adjusted Congestion Pricing
San Francisco is considering implementing "congestion pricing," which would charge residents for driving in its densest areas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage public transit use. While prices would likely depend on income level, with drivers making over $100,000 a year paying the full price, and those making less than $46,000 avoiding the fee, concerns remain that the legislation would make roads more private for those who can afford to pay the price. Fees would also depend on the zone in which and time at which a driver is entering. First considered in the city in 2004, the policy has been on the table for years but would take about three to five years to implement if approved. The Board of Supervisors will decide if the city should move forward with congestion pricing by the end of the year.

Battle over Affordable Housing Development Arises in Livermore
Skepticism about a 130-unit affordable housing project in downtown Livermore is raising concerns that a small group of wealthy residents are envisioning a city that embraces racist and elitist housing development. Save Livermore Downtown has been fighting the construction of affordable units, maintaining that the project would increase traffic and make Livermore’s downtown neighborhood feel less “open.” Additionally, planning commissioner John Stein made derogatory comments about the project, saying that it would create a “ghetto.” Meanwhile, the 222-unit luxury Legacy Livermore complex faced no opposition from Save Livermore Downtown, and construction on the project has made significant progress in the city where many residents have been forced out due to rising rent and home prices.

Report Analyzes Pandemic's Effect on Renters
UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation’s report, “Paying the Rent in a Pandemic: Recent Trends in Rent Payments Among Affordable Housing Tenants in California,” quantifies economic hardships faced by renters over the past year. The report established not only that 50% more households missed their rent payments throughout the pandemic but also that those who could not pay their rent were likely to miss several payments. Researchers also discovered that single-parent households and Black family households were particularly impacted by economic hardship and rent debt. While areas with meaningful rental assistance proved to minimize tenant vulnerability, the report acknowledges that, as the state reopens, missed rental payments are not disappearing but rather worsening, and future trends will depend heavily on the success of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s rental assistance distribution. 

CP&DR Coverage: Lancaster's BLVD Delivers
The BLVD, designed by Pasadena-based Moule & Polyzoides, received its share of awards and fanfare when it was completed, but awards are fleeting. I finally visited The BLVD under the worst possible circumstances: high noon on a 110-degree day a few weeks ago. My curiosity was intense enough to endure the heat, and I was not disappointed. For all the plans that sound promising but never break ground, and for all the arguments and strife over so many development issues in California, The BLVD seems like a success. It really doesn't take much to make a place dramatically more intimate, appealing, and humane.

Quick Hits & Updates

Oakland City Council will review an ordinance designed to increase affordable housing availability by updating the city’s building and zoning laws. The ordinance would increase housing options, such as tiny homes, manufactured homes, recreational vehicles, and efficiency dwelling units.

Long Beach’s 200-home Bay Harbour gated community may lose its exclusivity because it never constructed a public walkway required in the proposal when it was approved 44 years ago. While somewhat vague in its approach, the Coastal Commission stated that it would implement “enforcement action” to ensure greater public access to the luxury neighborhood.

LA County has revealed its plan for returning Bruce’s Beach, a site dedicated to providing access to the coast to Black people in the early 20th century, to the descendants of the original owners after Manhattan Beach used eminent domain to take the property. Officials are considering the complexities of returning property to private ownership, and the bill is awaiting approval from the Assembly.

Parklets and parking lot dining areas popularized during the pandemic in Los Angeles's Al Fresco program will remain in place for at least the next year and possibly the next three years if approved by Los Angeles City Council. In Garcetti’s emergency ordinance, restaurants would not need to reserve on or off-site parking spaces, encouraging public transit use and heightened business density.

A judge has put plans to construct a large residential complex at the redevelopment of the Downtown LA Southern California Flower Market on pause after the AIDS Healthcare Foundation sued over concerns for the project’s environmental impacts and its lack of affordable housing units. The project will now have to go through a state environmental review, delaying construction for at least another year.

Woodside voters will have the opportunity to vote on Measure A, which would transform an open space lot behind Roberts Hardware into parking for an expansion of the Bakery. The measure, which could also allow for an alternative plan to build an amphitheater, would reverse limits to commercial development set by Measure J in 1989.

In alignment with state housing laws designed to protect addicts, Morro Bay City Council denied a citizen appeal to the proposed conversion of Morro Bay’s Rodeway Inn into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, allowing the project to advance. The planning commission approved permitting for the 27-room center intended for operation in 2021. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria is introducing a website called OnBoard that would boost public participation in key policy proposals to advance transparency and better represent the needs of the city. On the website, residents can more easily join the city's 46 boards and commissions that make decisions regarding its parks, policing, art, and more.

The Biden Administration plans to reverse a Trump-era rule to bring back protections for part of the 3.4 million acres of forests across California, Oregon, and Washington that provide a habitat for the Pacific Northwest's spotted owl. Environmental group Oregon Wild found that the reversal, while valuable, takes inadequate action to fully protect the species because it will only concern 200,000 acres of forest.

The proposed high-speed rail line from Southern California to Las Vegas is taking a step forward following Brightline West's decision to purchase 110 acres of land on Las Vegas Boulevard South that would serve as the Southern Nevada terminal station. Brightline West plans to develop a 65,000 square-foot terminal that includes sufficient parking and connections to ground transportation to promote ridership. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-08-21, which sets a September 30, 2021 expiration date for the suspensions of filing, noticing, and posting deadlines and tribal consultation timelines established due to the pandemic. The order also ends a COVID-related mandate to facilitate virtual public hearings and will require that public meetings be held in compliance with the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act and the Brown Act.

The Mendocino County Civil Grand Jury released a report that reveals just how housing-deprived the county is, largely due to limited permit approval and wildfire damage. The Board of Supervisors must respond to the report by October 14.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff insists that the city will continue negotiations with the A's over the Howard Terminal development, but the team remains quiet after expressing its discontent with the city's approval of a term sheet against the A's wishes. The team is still deciding if it should continue negotiations or look to another city for their plan.