AG Warns Huntington Beach Over Builder's Remedy
Attorney General Rob Bonta has warned the City of Huntington Beach that recent efforts to exempt itself from the Builder's Remedy is illegal. The Huntington Beach Planning Commission has already passed an ordinance prohibiting the processing of Builder's Remedy projects and City Council approval is pending. On January 9, 2023, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) sent a "Notice of Potential Violation" to the city, notifying the city that such a proposed ordinance would likely violate state housing and permitting laws. On February 7, 2023, Huntington Beach's city attorney transmitted the proposed ordinance, along with a legal memorandum, for the city's Planning Commission to review. Bonta followed up a warning from the Department of Housing & Community Development that the move violates the Housing Accountability Act.

San Francisco Mayor Announces Aggressive Housing Program
With San Francisco's Housing Element certified by the state, Mayor London Breed announced an overhaul of the city's housing policies. In an Executive Directive last week, Breed said she aims to amend the “blatant obstructionism and well-intentioned but ill-advised laws” causing the housing crisis in San Francisco by the state-approved plan. The Housing Element plans for 82,000 new housing units over the next eight years, and 46,000 of those units need to be considered affordable housing under Breed’s 2023 Housing Element. The order also creates a task force of nonprofit builders and city officials to spearhead the implementation and funding of the wide scale project, hoping to build alongside transit corridors throughout three major zones of the city. The approval of the vast building project comes on the heels of approvals on other large housing projects in the city, after years of suffering from a historic lack of housing.

State Awards First Prohousing Designation to Counties
The city of El Sereno and the counties of Sacramento and Placer have been designated “Prohousing” under the new Prohousing Incentive Pilot Program, administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development. One of Placer County’s application highlights is the increase of height limits in several multifamily zones to expand housing opportunities. The county also developed a universal entitlement application to expedite permit processing and created zoning to allow for Tiny Homes on Wheels, increasing housing choices while concurrently mitigating the impacts of fire hazards. The City of El Cerrito is promoting innovative housing types, notably the multi-phase Mayfair Project, which received local housing trust funds and utilizes modular housing technology to reduce cost and building times. In addition, El Cerrito implemented a post-entitlement process to further accelerate and streamline housing development; HCD also praised the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan. Sacramento County’s application highlights include the modification of development standards and other applicable zoning provisions to promote greater development intensity. In addition, the county provides impact fee reductions for residential development and permits “missing middle” housing. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Lawsuit Filed to Block Los Angeles Transfer Tax Measure
The Apartment Association of Los Angeles and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association are filing suit against the City of Los Angeles to over turn Measure ULA, a property transfer tax recently approved by 58 percent of city voters. The measure applies a 4 percent tax on property transactions between $5 million and $10 million, and a 5.5 percent tax on transactions of $10 million or more. It is scheduled to take effect on April 1. The tax is planned to fund affordable housing and tenant assistance programs. According to the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, the measure would raise approximately $923 million each year for affordable housing production and homelessness prevention[…] while having no effect on the average Angeleno.” The plaintiff’s suit argues, however, that the tax is unconstitutional and will adversely impact property owners in the city and could chill market-rate development. Daniel Yukelson, Executive Director of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, said in a statement, "If this unlawful tax is allowed to stand, it will be the last straw that will cause property owners to invest elsewhere and never to come back to Los Angeles."

Report: AHSC Program Supported 15,324 Affordable Units
The California Housing Partnership, in collaboration with Enterprise Community Partners, has released an analytical report on the efficacy of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program. In the six rounds since 2015, the AHSC program has invested $2.5 billion in 164 affordable housing developments across the state. According to the authors, the program has already added 15,324 affordable homes to the California housing stock while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 4.4 million metric tons. The report ultimately celebrates the AHSC program for its community-first approach to improving housing and climate goals and recommends further investment in AHSC as the only state affordable housing program with a continuous, designated funding source. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

24,000 New Homes Coming to San Diego's Mira Mesa Neighborhood
The San Diego City Council unanimously approved a blueprint for Mira Mesa with a big plan to ditch the car-dependent neighborhood and construct pedestrian-friendly urban villages with 24,000 new homes, mostly in high-rise housing. While other San Diego neighborhoods would remain unchanged for the moment, the city plans to rezone Mira Mesa's commercial land for high-density housing. Meanwhile, lawmakers hope to build walking bridges over car-centric streets, and several lanes primarily used by vehicles would turn into pathways for buses and bicycles. The plan's opponents are concerned that the blueprint will attract too many residents and not enough infrastructure or green space, and environmental advocates say proposals for reducing auto-dependency are inadequate.

CP&DR Coverage: State Awards Six Prohousing Designations
Last February, the City of Sacramento became the first city to receive the state's "Prohousing" designation. A half-dozen more cities were approved in mid-December: Citrus Heights, Fontana, Oakland, Roseville, San Diego, and West Sacramento. From HCD’s perspective, these cities represent “the best of the best” in terms of policies and programs to add housing, above and beyond basic compliance with state housing law. Fifteen applications are pending, including applications from major cities such as Fresno, Los Angles, and San Francisco. Seven are from counties. Along with the six recent designations, HCD announced the availability of up to $25.7 million in grant funding for the Prohousing Incentive Pilot Program (PIP). 

Quick Hits & Updates 

San Francisco Muni is facing a $214 million budget deficit beginning in 2025 as federal pandemic aid runs out. The city is also facing a deficit in its general fund, another way SFMT receives its budget. The city is looking into solutions including increasing parking control officers for parking citations, raising parking permit fees and charging delivery and rideshare drivers a fee when parking in a loading zone.

36.3 million trees died in the state of California in 2022, 26.8 million more than the year prior, according to a report by the U.S. Forest Service. Experts pointed to a severe drought leading into 2022, aggravating disease and pest infestations in the state’s already dense and vulnerable forests.

A Silicon Valley home developer and CEO is on a hunger strike over the city’s resolution to delay the construction of his housing developments after this team did not procure approval for the project from the local Department of Environmental Health.

Investigators hired by the Anaheim City Council to conduct a probe of the Angel Stadium sale have asked for an additional $750,000. The investigators cite the large scope of the work and additional email evidence has to be examined, stating the size of the investigation is much loftier than anticipated.

The Guerneville Forest Coalition has filed a lawsuit to prevent logging near a 2,000-year-old redwood tree in Sonoma County. The group is fighting against Cal Fire, which approved a timber harvest plan that could impact the 340-foot Clar Tree that has avoided harm three times in the past 25 years.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed's plan to allow the redevelopment of gas stations, parking lots, and other auto-related properties into housing will move forward after the Board of Supervisors approved the legislation following 14 months of delays. The Cars to Casas policy may not result in tangible impacts until the housing market and construction costs improve.

In an effort to increase housing production, Mayor Karen Bass of Los Angeles announced changes to the city’s review and approval processes for housing and shelters. City departments involved in review and approval must complete their work within 60 days, and discretionary review for all developments not requiring zoning changes will be waived.

Construction has started on a new entry pavilion to the Los Angeles River Greenway in Canoga Park. Designed by Frank Gehry and part of the county's master plan for the 51-mile river, the project will include two buildings that frame the entrance with public restrooms, public art, a shade canopy, picnic tables, bike racks, and a drinking fountain.

A group fighting for reparations for eviction and displacement from Palm Springs' Section 14 land during the 1950s and 60s are seeking $2 billion from the city, up from a previous proposal of $100 million. Though city officials have acknowledged their obligation to the impacted families, they are asking that the state get involved since the city budget is just $232 million.