State Creates Map of Government-Owned Surplus Properties and Housing Element Sites
The Department of General Services in partnership with the Department of Housing and Community Development released an interactive public map of property identified by local governments to help developers find land for housing development. The Housing and Local Land Development Opportunity Map shows potential development sites identified in local housing elements (housing plans) adopted on or after January 1, 2021, and locally-owned surplus and excess sites identified in housing element Annual Progress Reports. This new map allows developers to view all sites identified by cities and counties for housing through their housing elements, as well as locally-owned surplus and excess land, which may be subject to affordable housing requirements when disposed of through the Surplus Land Act. Further the map allows these sites to be overlaid with key datasets, including the HCD/Tax Credit Allocation Committee Opportunity Maps, Cal EnviroScreen 4.0, and fire hazard data to assist them in applying for state affordable housing funding sources and accessing streamlining benefits. HCD is also hosting a webinar on February 24, 2023 to introduce this tool.
Concord Naval Air Station Redevelopment Stalls Again
Three years after rejecting mega-developer Lennar to lead redevelopment of the former Concord Naval Air Station, the Concord City Council sent the project back to the drawing board again. On a 3-2 vote last week, the council rejected a term sheet with Concord First Partners, effectively firing the group after two years of planning. Totaling 2,225 acres and set to include 15,000 housing units, the $6 billion project would be the single largest housing development in the Bay Area (if not the state). The Navy still owns the property, but the city governs its reuse. Guy Bjerke, Concord’s director of economic development and base reuse, told the San Francisco Chronicle, “we are evaluating options and will seek Council direction in the near future.” (See related CP&DR coverage.)
Oakland Taps African-American Developer for Coliseum Site
The City of Oakland entered into an exclusive development agreement with Oakland developer AASEG to redevelop the 200-acre Oakland Coliseum site into a $5 billion mixed-use community focused on equity, with generous amounts of affordable housing for low-income, and especially African-American, residents. AASEG is owned by African-American businessperson Ray Bobbitt, who grew up in Oakland. The redevelopment is predicated on the Oakland A's departure from the Coliseum, and it could include an arena to host a WNBA or other professional sports team. But the focus would be on housing; "We're talking about affordable housing, so that we can keep those who have lived here in Oakland for generations, so their families can continue to live here," said Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao told ABC News. Any redevelopment would require the assent of the A's asset, which owns about half of the site. The A's have not commented on the AASEG development agreement. (See related CP&DR coverage.)
Analysis of RHNA Progress Awards C- to Cities Statewide
According to a study by the Southern California News Group most counties and cities statewide are falling behind state mandated goals on affordable housing as of 2021. The average rating, under California’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment program, statewide was a C-. Low-income housing projects, as displayed by these study results, fell behind market-rate development statewide. According to the study, only 29 out of 538 state cities and counties were on track to provide housing for very low-, low-, moderate-, and above moderate-income residents according to their previously decided upon goals. Deputy Director for housing policy at California’s Housing and Community Development Department “complained that cities fail to take the initiative in promoting new housing. In some cases, she said, they obstruct development.” Cities in the state argue that they are at the whim of a difficult market. Others claim the state itself is not creating enough financial resources or incentive to local governments for the construction of low-income housing. One California city — Norwalk — met and exceeded the Southern California News Group's rating standards and received an A-plus in 2021.
CP&DR Coverage: Fulton Considers CEQA Appeal
Based on recent cases, Bill Fulton wonders whether California's appellate courts are getting tired of hearing cases about the California Environmental Quality Act. In the Bay Area, home to the First District Court of Appeal, where justices have recently lamented that “something is very wrong” with CEQA, insisted that environmental documents don’t have to be perfect, and even allowed a malicious prosecution case to move forward against a prominent CEQA plaintiffs’ lawyer. In the Sacramento-based Third District, however, things appear to be different, as evidenced by the outcome of the recent appellate court involving the proposed new annex to the State Capitol. In the Save Our Capitol! Case, the Third District first said that the Department of General Services should have included visual representations of the new annex in its environmental analysis. Recently, a tentative ruling from the First District in the People’s Park case seemed to indicate that noise from students and potential problems associated with homeless persons could be viewed as environmental impacts under CEQA. Fulton concludes that it's "a confusing time for CEQA, where many courts are really resisting expansion while others are facilitating it. If ever there was a time that called for comprehensive legislative reform, it’s now."
Quick Hits & Updates
Interstate 980 in Oakland has been listed as a “Freeway Without a Future” according to the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU). CNU argues that instead of investing in costly repair and expansion of the 980, money should be put toward city streets, housing, and green spaces.
Clovis City Council approved a new 1,000- acre development of single family homes just beyond the city limits. Development of the homes had been halted previously due to the presence of an endangered salamander. The site will not include any affordable housing, and the city still needs to study the fiscal impact of the development as it considers annexing it into Clovis city limits.
Assemblymember Alex Lee introduced AB 309, which would promote mixed-income "social housing" statewide. Social housing is protected from being sold to a private for-profit entity for the duration of its life, and residents are granted the same protections (if not stronger) as tenants in private properties, and residents are able to participate in decision making.
Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry and his wife Ayesha weighed in on the tense housing debates in the San Francisco Peninsula. The couple wrote a highly publicized letter to the Atherton City Council asking the council to oppose upzoning of properties adjacent to their home. Atherton is known for large properties exceeding one acre.
A new Oceanside development along the Sprinter rail-line received approval Jan. 12 after a heated City Council meeting. An appeal by impassioned residents concerned about looming traffic issues was denied, enabling the development.
Cerritos Mayor pro tem Bruce Barrows filed a lawsuit that could delay construction of a light rail line extending from downtown Los Angeles through southeast Los Angeles County. The suit alleges that LA Metro violated the Public Records Act for failing to fully discuss its plans for a "cut-and-cover" segment in Cerritos.
A new report from the Public Policy Institute finds that, due to the inevitability of water supply vulnerability, California must learn to "thrive with less." The report includes several strategies for adapting to these changing standards, including modernizing water storage, making the most of wet years, consolidating small water utilities in rural communities, and water-limited farming for agriculture use.
Glendale planners are looking to improve the industrial neighborhood surrounding the city's Transportation Center. New design proposals include employment, housing, and retail opportunities as well as sidewalk repaving, new light fixtures, urban greenery, and curb extensions.
A recent report from UC Berkeley's Othering & Belonging Institute expands on previous explorations of the impact of exclusionary zoning on racial and economic segregation, this time in the San Diego region. The report stresses that over three-quarters of residential land is zoned for single-family housing, which is consistent with previous reports on the San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento areas.Though fewer people left California between 2021 and 2022 than in the previous year, the statewide population is continuing to decline, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In the past year, about 114,000 people left, resulting in a 0.3% population decrease, compared to the previous year's 0.9%.
Los Angeles City Controller-elect Kenneth Mejia's leadership team includes former L.A. city deputy major Rick Cole as chief deputy controller. The entire team includes a mix of political veterans and those new to local government, all intending to promote accountability and transparency of the city budget.
Los Angeles County Metro's assessment of the NextGen Bus Plan, a bus network intended to increase ridership by growing the number of bus lines, improving frequency, and create safer waiting stops. The assessment found that accessibility improved with the new network, especially for people in Equity Focused Communities.
Burbank's Civic Center Redevelopment would bring over 5,600 new housing units to the city's downtown as well as a 65,000-square-foot library and 52,000 square feet of open space. Burbank officials may soon make a down payment on city-owned land.
Sacramento city council members approved a policy that will increase the amount of protected bike lanes across Midtown and Downtown Sacramento. The lanes will be connected to currently-existing pathways.
Pathways Climate Institute LLC and San Francisco Estuary Institute and the Aquatic Science Center studied and mapped Bay Area shallow groundwater response to sea level rise in an effort to understand the impacts, creating an interactive map of groundwater rise.