CP&DR News Briefs December 20, 2022: Prohousing Cities; San Jose Development; S.F. Housing Lawsuits; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Dec 20, 2022

HCD Releases Prohousing Guidelines; Names Six Eligible Cities
The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) released its Prohousing Incentive Pilot Program Final Guidelines, Notice of Funding Availability, and application. Six cities are currently eligible for participation to receive rewards for meeting housing goals. Sacramento, Citrus Heights, Fontana, Oakland, Roseville, San Diego, and West Sacramento are now eligible for community development resources, which offer $25.7 million in additional funding. These cities, in addition to meeting housing goals, have demonstrated that they are prioritizing climate-smart housing by streamlining development, upzoning, or prioritizing affordable housing in neighborhoods that have systemically excluded low-income residents and residents of color. San Diego, for example, amended zoning to allow for 98,000 additional units, establishing an affordable ADU Bonus program, and waived density limitations for affordable housing. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

San Jose Reaches Agreement to Develop 32,000 Homes in North San Jose
After years of threats of lawsuits from the County of Santa Clara, City of San Jose has reached an agreement with the county that will enable the realization of long-approved plans to build thousands more homes in North San Jose, at least 20% of which will be affordable. The move confronts restrictions contained in a 2006 agreement between several local governments that have prevented any housing from being built in North San José for over a decade. Now, the city may move forward with aspects of a 2005 plan to add 32,000 homes, over 25 million square feet of office and industrial space, three million square feet of retail and commercial space, and 1,000 hotel rooms alongside transportation improvements.

San Francisco Faces Lawsuits over "Pattern of Delay" in Approving Housing Projects
YIMBY Law has refiled two lawsuits against San Francisco after finding additional evidence demonstrating a pattern of behavior wherein the city delays housing projects beyond timelines outlined by state law. The lawsuits argue that this behavior from the city perpetuates the housing shortage and affordability crisis in San Francisco. YIMBY Law filed two lawsuits against the city of San Francisco between December 2021 and January 2022. Each lawsuit alleged that the city illegally denied a housing project, one at 450 O’Farrell Street and one at 469 Stevenson Street. YIMBY Law has since won a demurrer hearing in the O’Farrell case. These claims argue that San Francisco systemically delays housing projects at multiple stages during the permitting process, extending time frames for review and approval well beyond legal limits outlined by state laws such as the Housing Accountability Act.

Los Angeles to Phase Out Oil Drilling
Los Angeles City Council members unanimously approved a plan to ban new oil wells and phase out all existing drilling throughout the city. Now, oil and gas operations, which include 26 fields and over 5,000 wells, must end production in the next 20 years. The move is historic; though oil tycoons warn against financial troubles and dependency on foreign oil, the plan will significantly improve the health of neighborhoods where drilling pollution has caused severe burdens, particularly for residents of color and low-income residents. As operations begin to phase out, the drilling-heavy locations of Wilmington and harbor areas will see significant change, as well as West Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, and the northwest San Fernando Valley.

CP&DR Coverage: Macroeconomic Forces Threaten Statewide Housing Production
A likely slowdown in housing development is coming at the most ironic moment possible. Over the past ten years, the state’s economy, and demand for housing, has been robust. But, local opposition to development, coupled with the absence of incentives and policies at the state level, often impeded housing development at a time when capital was readily available. Now, right when the state needs more housing the most—and has taken significant steps to try and increase it—market forces might intervene to impede construction. Bills signed this year include SB 6 and SB 2011, both of which promote conversion of commercial properties to residential, and AB 2097, which reduces parking requirements. Even if these bills aid certain developers on certain projects, their influence is likely to be obviated by economics.

Quick Hits & Updates 

On her first day in office, newly-elected Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass declared a state of emergency on homelessness. Most details about her plan to address the crisis, titled "Inside Safe," are still to come but will include efforts to provide housing near where the unhoused person already lives.

Over the past ten years, Los Angeles faced the second-highest number of pedestrian deaths in the country, with 1,133 residents dying in crashes between 2011 and 2020. Though Los Angeles and New York City, which was at the top of the list, both planned "Vision Zero" initiatives for preventing further deaths, traffic fatalities have only worsened, particularly for people of color. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Los Angeles City council members voted unanimously in favor of the Livable Communities Initiative (LCI), intended to create 15-minute neighborhoods where housing, jobs, transit, grocery stores, and other necessities are all in near proximity. Now, the Departments of City Planning, Building and Safety, and Transportation will produce reports on strategies for implementing the LCI.

All but one San Bernardino City Council member approved plans for the $8 million demolition of the city's Carousel Mall, which will take place over five years after the mall originally closed.

The City of Hesperia and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department must pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit for discriminating against Black and Latino renters. The U.S. Department of Justice found that officials promoted policies that allowed for the eviction or exclusion of tenants with criminal histories, laws that have disproportionately burdened Black and Latino residents.

Lyft is ending its shared bicycle and scooter services in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, citing a lack of dedication from local governments. The company plans to seek long term public-private partnerships for future implementation.

The San Jose City Council will review a change to a transportation analysis policy that would allow developers to transform the closed 114-acre Pleasant Hills Golf Course into housing, retail, or commercial space. Opponents are concerned about the reduction of open space and a lack of community involvement in the planning process.

Alameda is officially the first Bay Area municipality adopt a housing element approved by the state, narrowly passing in a 3-2 council vote. Officials have planned for 5,300 new units created with inclusive neighborhoods, confronting homelessness, and improving transit in mind.

Plans to build a wildlife crossing between the Santa Susana Mountains and the San Gabriel Mountains are underway, with planners looking for a way to restore habitats across the I-5 corridor. Officials will also consider options for a crossing above the SR 14 Freeway. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Fodor's Travel has recommended against traveling to Lake Tahoe due to the increase in second-home dwellers in the area who have caused traffic and pollution burdens along the trails and beaches. The guide, citing the increase in fine pollution particles, which are now impacting the Lake's clear waters, suggests that visitor interaction with Tahoe needs to become more mindful.

A $400 million project to revitalize Dana Point Harbor will include exclusive restaurants and retailers as well as open green areas and spaces for concerts and other events, according to recently-released renderings. Developer Dana Point Harbor Partners intends to begin construction in early 2023.