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CP&DR News Briefs December 14, 2021: Housing Production; Angel Stadium Redevelopment; Support for Upzoning; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Dec 14, 2021

PPIC Finds Significant Under-Production of Housing
California's plans for increasing the housing supply does not make up for decades of undersupply with population growth, according to data from the 2020 Census and analysis from the Public Policy Institute of California. The Census Bureau's data shows that new housing has not matched population growth; the amount of people increased 3.2 times more than housing units over the past decade. Now, California is short of the near 3.5 million homes that Gov. Gavin Newsom believes will be essential by 2025. The Census also proved that coastal housing is the most expensive, but inland regions have experienced the largest percent change in housing values because residents are pushed or attracted to their lower costs.

State Says Angel Stadium Redevelopment May Violate Surplus Land Act
The Department of Housing and Community Development has issued a Notice of Violation of the Surplus Land Act to the City of Anaheim over its Angel Stadium land sale. While the city has been trying to convince the HCD that its project satisfies California affordable housing law requirements, the state found three violations related to a lack of prioritization of affordable housing developers. Anaheim argued that, in addition to the 466 affordable units promised at the moment, the final project has a goal of 777, and the city will work with Angels owner Arte Moreno's company to provide 518 affordable homes outside of the development. They claim that the state declined their proposal to pair affordable housing with the Angel Stadium project. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Poll: Voters Support Residential Upzoning
Most Los Angeles County voters support SB 9 and SB 10, according to a poll from the Los Angeles Business Council Institute conducted alongside the Los Angeles Times that analyzes public response to the new state laws, which go into effect January 1. While multiple homeowner groups and other opponents argued that the bills would destroy single-family neighborhoods, the new poll suggests that many voters support changes to traditional single-family zoning. Countywide, 55% of voters are in favor of SB 9, and 68% of voters support SB 10. However, renters were much more likely to support the bills than homeowners, especially SB 9. Advocates of the laws hope that they will contribute to more affordable prices by encouraging construction in areas that have previously faced higher-density development restrictions.

State Compels Santa Cruz to Accept SB 35 Project
The Department of Housing and Community Development found that the City of Santa Cruz's rejection of a project that was proposed under SB 35 was illegal after the council noted that the layout reflects a form of segregation. The developer, Novin Development, of the 140-unit 831 Water Street project suggested to separate its two buildings into affordable and market-rate housing, claiming that creating this separation would make it easier to secure grants that would subsidize the development and maintain affordability. Under SB 35, which seeks to simplify the housing construction process, the project would have to be approved because it meets Santa Cruz's objective standards, even though the council voted 6-1 to turn down the project.

San Francisco Allows Parklets but Implements Extensive Regulations
Though San Francisco Supervisors approved policy to make outdoor parklets popularized due to the pandemic permanent, strict rules and regulations are driving many restaurants to completely cease their outdoor dining operations, according to an analysis by the San Francisco Chronicle. One estimate suggests that as many as 90% of parklets must be removed or severely changed to comply with the over 60-page city guidelines covered in the Shared Spaces policy program, or they may face severe charges. As restaurants receive violation notices, the city is not acting on fine punishments, according to spokesperson for Mayor London Breed's office Jeff Cretan. Meanwhile, worried restaurant owners are working through confusing violation notices and parklet requirements to support their businesses.

CP&DR Commentary: On Housing, Political Labels No Longer Apply
A few weeks ago, CP&DR covered what was, for many, a shocking rejection of a 495-unit housing development in the heart of San Francisco by the city's Board of Supervisors. It was shocking for any number of reasons. Pragmatically, it calls into question the city's ability to meet its state-mandated housing goals. Politically, it was a rare abandonment of aldermanic privilege. Perhaps most notably, it demonstrated that, ideologically, progressivism is now officially, unambiguously at odds with the provision of housing. The real progressive stories are in San Diego, San Jose, and Sacramento -- to name a few.

Quick Hits & Updates 
The latest proposal for the redevelopment of San Diego's Midway District into a new sports arena would include 4,000 new homes and 20 acres of park space. Developer Zephyr and affordable-housing company Chelsea Investment are spearheading the proposal that would reinvest in the 48-acre space surrounding the existing Pechanga Arena.

The Biden Administration is working on reversing a Trump-era decision that allowed Cadiz Inc. to pipe water across public desert land for sale. Though Cadiz claims the project will not damage nearby springs, their idea has faced severe opposition from Indigenous tribes, advocacy groups, and environmental organizations.

San Jose City Council is considering expanding on SB 9, the "duplex law," to allow upzoning in historic districts. The policy finds support from city planners and the Planning Commission as an effort to increase the area's housing supply.

The Department of Housing and Community Development is reviewing Oakland City Council's delayed approval of a 222-unit residential project across from the West Oakland BART to decide if the city violated state laws. Their investigation comes a week after announcing their review of San Francisco Supervisors' denial of a 495-unit project.

The Santa Cruz City Council rescinded its previous rejection of a development located at 831 Water Street and will consider updates from the developer after facing litigation threats. The council had previously denied the project because it felt that dividing the project into two halves — one for market-rate units and another for affordable housing — would contribute to the stigmatization of low-income people, but the developer is arguing that SB 35 would not allow the city to reject the development based on that argument.

Long Beach will resubmit its plan to meet the state's RHNA requirements with an amendment that allows for more housing to be built on parcels designated as "high resource" areas. The change responds to state demands and should contribute to the requested construction of 26,502 units over the next 8 years.

San Francisco Supervisors are considering a $64 million plan to protect renters that would help nonprofits buy small apartment buildings with high risk of resident displacement. The board is proposing to use funds from a $294 million pandemic reserve to help purchase at least 200 units, though one more supervisor will need to support the proposal to make it actionable.

Google announced a plan to construct several hundred homes atop the proposed site for a new San Jose BART station near the Diridon transit hub. Public records show that Google's project within its Downtown West Village would include 500 units and 18,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

Boston Properties, the developer of San Jose's Platform 16 proposal, is "actively" considering restarting construction of a giant tech campus in 2022. The campus is located near the eventual Google transit village and the Diridon train station and will feature 16 terraces overlooking the banks of the Guadalupe River. If completed, the 1.1 million square-foot project would include 3 office buildings and a garage.

The Housing Workshop, a housing policy firm, released a new report titled “CEQA: California’s Living Environmental Law: CEQA’s Role in Housing, Environmental Justice & Climate Change,” demonstrating that the 50-year-old law is a critical tool for advancing environmental justice and combating climate change. The report shows that the CEQA is not a significant barrier to the state’s housing production, contrary to critics' contentions.

Extensive inequalities exist throughout the southwestern United States according to a study that explores the extent of thermal inequality. Researchers found that the difference reached as high as 6 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit in Palm Springs and the Inland Empire, and California urban regions proved to feature higher thermal inequality than other southwestern states, possibly due to extreme water use in wealthy neighborhoods.

Oakland City Council will begin negotiations with the Black Cultural Zone Collaborative and its partners, Community Arts Stabilization Trust and Curtis Development, over a long-term lease of the city-owned Liberation Park in order to increase affordable housing availability and increase commercial and creative space. The 1.2-acre property is currently used as a community hub for shopping, free-meal distribution, outdoor movies, COVID-19 services, and more.