CP&DR News Briefs January 10, 2023: San Jose Housing Element; Wildfire Hazard Maps; Cost to Solve Homelessness; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Jan 10, 2023

San Jose Housing Element Appears Poised to Miss Deadline
The City of San Jose's draft housing element, designed to add 77,500 units to the city, per its Regional Housing Needs Allocation, was rejected by the Department of Housing and Community Development. The plan identifies over 600 opportunity sites and calls for heavy concentration of new housing in the city's downtown and in the Diridon Station area. Among other concerns, a Dec. 15 letter from HCD applauds the plan's "strong emphasis on acknowledging and repairing the harms of decades of racist, inequitable, and discriminatory zoning, land use, and planning policies.... and creating new housing opportunities for lower- and moderate-income families in well-resourced communities" but said it does not do enough to "affirmatively further fair housing." Bay Area cities must have their housing elements approved by Jan. 31 or face penalties, including possibly Builder's Remedy projects. The San Jose Mercury News reports that the city "has no intention of actually meeting that deadline."

CalFire Releases Updated Maps of Wildfire Hazard
CalFire's newest Wildfire Hazard Severity maps help residents understand their level of vulnerability to wildfires and suggest that many statewide communities are at moderate, high, or very high risk. Cal Fire updated the maps in response to criticisms based on the inadequacy of existing tools, with researchers and nonprofits calling the maps "inexcusable." Now, new maps are demonstrating that those who live in the Sacramento foothills and Sierra Nevada Mountains, in Grass Valley, and east of Oroville are at particularly high risk. The new maps will assist government agencies form policies that influence the locations of new homes and businesses and inform residents, who must disclose levels of vulnerability before selling their property.

Report Estimates Cost of Solving Homelessness at $8.1 Billion
California could end homelessness in 12 years if it invested $8.1 billion in solving the crisis, according to a new report from the Corporation for Supportive Housing and the California Housing Partnership. Since state and federal funding already total $1.2 billion in annual spending, officials must plan for another $6.9 billion. While the study indicates how extensive initiatives must be to effect change, it also concretely defines what must happen to end homelessness; officials must plan for 112,527 affordable homes, 225,053 rental subsidies, support services for 62,966 households, and shelters for 32,235 unhoused residents. Further, the Needs Assessment demonstrates that the $6.9 billion figure amounts to just 2.7 percent of the 2022-2023 California Budget. The approach is comprehensive, involving not only support and shelter services but permanent housing as the ultimate necessity.

Coastal Commission Stirs Controversy over Outdoor Dining in San Diego
Though the Coastal Commission has allowed outdoor dining to remain in place in San Diego, it is requiring restaurants located along the city's beaches to replace any parking spots they are using for al fresco dining. If a restaurant does not comply, the commission is threatening to close its outdoor dining services. Due to the high prices of parking spaces, experts expect that many restaurants no longer have the budget to pay for them and will be forced to give up al fresco dining. The commission suggests that the impact of losing outdoor dining does not outweigh the importance of encouraging sustained access to the beaches, which it suggests requires space for vehicles as mass transit remains unreliable.

CP&DR Coverage: CEQA and Socioeconomic Impacts
For decades, judges in California have limited CEQA’s scope to environmental impacts only. But in the latest development from the Berkeley People’s Park case, a tentative ruling from the First District Court of Appeal opens the door to such social issues. The People’s Park case involves a community challenge to UC Berkeley’s plan to build both student housing and a new park on the storied location, which was the site of highly publicized protests in the 1960s. In a tentative ruling overturning the trial judge, the court ruled that potential noise from drunken students late at night must be analyzed under CEQA because it’s statistically likely that they will be noisy and also that the potential environmental impacts of additional homeless people must also be analyzed.

Quick Hits & Updates

Supplementing its proposal to build 744 housing units on a UCSF campus, San Francisco developer Prado Group plans to bring even more units to the wealthy Laurel Heights neighborhood. The developer recently bought the former five-acre California Pacific Medical Center Campus, which is planned for 273 units, but expects to increase density.

The Paso Robles City Council and the Cal Poly Corporation have agreed to move forward with plans to construct a spaceport and technology corridor for space exploration, intended to bring more jobs to the area. The city will pay the corporation $110,171 to plan for the sites.

Several Indigenous tribes and environmental justice groups are fighting the state Water Resources Control Board for discriminatory water management processes. In its civil rights complaint, the coalition is arguing that the board is responsible for the destruction of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and is requesting an investigation into the agency.

As Colorado River reservoirs approach extremely low levels, the federal government is requiring California and other states who rely on the water source to determine how it will its reduce water use in order to ensure adequate supplies for the years to come.

The developer of a proposed 79-unit apartment development in Manhattan Beach is suing the city after council members rejected the project for various reasons, including its proximity to an oil refinery. The state maintains that the city acted out of compliance with state law when it rejected the Highrose development.

The Department of Housing and Community Development is putting pressure on the city of Coronado, one of San Diego's wealthiest jurisdictions, to increase affordable housing availability. The HCD is also requiring more action to reverse decades of policies that have promoted racial segregation.

Researchers have found even more evidence concerning the health and community impacts of warehouse facilities on low-income communities and communities of color. The report details the burdens of air pollution, noise levels, and congestion on residents living near warehouses. (See related CP&DR coverage.)