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CP&DR News Briefs January 18, 2022: San Francisco Sea Level Rise; SGC Annual Report; Palmdale EIFD, and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Jan 18, 2022
Port of San Francisco Identifies 23 Projects to Respond to Sea Level Rise
The Port of San Francisco is considering raising the Ferry Building by several feet in one of its 23 plans for defending the Embarcadero from climate disasters, including earthquakes and sea level rise. Before that, however, the Port intends to retrofit existing wharves and secure sand that lays beneath the dike that protects the bay next to Oracle Park. The Port Commission will review the projects with the understanding that preparation measures for protecting the city with its 3.5-mile seawall between downtown and the bay are critical considering particular vulnerabilities to rapidly-increasing climate impacts. Officials hope the commission will fund the $26 million required for the project's initial designs, while the $650 million to $3 billion cost of the rest of construction would require state and federal funding.

Strategic Growth Council Annual Report
The California Strategic Growth Council published its Annual Report to the Legislature that considers the year's accomplishments and its basis for proposals in the Fiscal Year 2021-2022. The SGC highlighted its role in facilitating $2 million in state funding to ten Indigenous tribes for clean energy projects, its analysis of the success of the Transformative Climate Communities Program and the BOOST pilot program, its establishment of an investment framework for the TCC program and a State Metropolitan Planning Organization, its execution of goals within the Racial Equity Action Plan, and its sensitivity to the changes and burdens brought on by the pandemic. The SGC also detailed outlined its criteria for evaluating each program and celebrated its collaborative, community-based approach.

Palmdale Establishes Major Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District
In collaboration with Los Angeles County, Palmdale City Council approved The Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD), a financing system that will encourage private infrastructure development in areas that the city believes will generate increased property tax revenues in the future. The EIFD would receive an estimated $606 million from Palmdale and L.A. County's property tax increment through bonds, grants, and other sources over a 50-year period. The mechanism could then allow for investment in services, such as sewer and water lines, that would encourage future development. Consulting firm Kosmont found that this initiative is the state's largest EIFD, and its net financial benefit over the next 50 years would total $433 million.

League of Cities Adopts 2022 Agenda, Including Promotion of Local Control
The League of California Cities Board of Directors adopted the organization’s 2022 Action Agenda that organizes city priorities across the state. Their plan includes securing funding to increase the supply and affordability of housing and reform state housing laws to retain local authority, attaining investments to strengthen and sustain critical infrastructure, increasing funding and resources to prevent homelessness and assist individuals experiencing homelessness, and strengthening disaster preparedness, resiliency, and recovery fro climate change impacts through improved collaboration and resources. With its agenda now set, Cal Cities has voiced its dedication to immediately advancing these objectives in the state capitol. 

Judge Halts Development of Resort in Lake County over Fire Danger
Environmentalists are praising Lake County Judge J. David Markham's decision that developers failed to consider the dangers that residents might experience if a wildfire forced thousands to evacuate their $1 billion resort and housing project. The office of Attorney General Rob Bonta pursued the lawsuit against the developer's resort alongside the Center for Biological Diversity. The Guenoc Valley Resort was intended for construction in a wine region at severe risk to wildfires but included only one evacuation route: a two-lane route through a steep canyon, which was swallowed by a fire originating at the LNU Lightning Complex over a year ago. While officials celebrated the project for its potential to spur housing and job growth, they are also facing the threat of climate crises that threaten the lives of future and nearby existing residents. (See related CP&DR coverage.) 

CP&DR Coverage: Cities Adopt Urgency Ordinances in Response to SB 9
Cities across the state adopted urgency ordinances that, in various ways, place restrictions on potential SB 9 redevelopments.To SB 9’s supporters, the ordinances, especially if they become permanent, threaten to undermine the law’s potential to help ease the state’s housing crisis by providing “missing middle” housing, especially in upscale areas that currently offer few options for middle-income residents. The cities, however, charge that SB 9 is a blunt instrument and that they are well within their rights to regulate for aesthetics and safety so long as they do not make it impossible to build SB 9 units.

Quick Hits & Updates 
A trial court rejected without leave plans to amend the Orange County Council of Governments' lawsuit that challenges the Department of Housing and Community Development's requirement for Southern California Association of Government jurisdictions to account for 1,341,827 homes by 2029.

The descendants of Black families who were displaced from Santa Monica to make way for freeways and other urban renewal projects during the 1950s will be offered priority placement in the city's affordable apartment units. About 600 families were forced to move when the city approved construction of I-10 in addition to those displaced when the city replaced Belmar Triangle with the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

Wealthy and white Los Angeles residents have shorter commute times than the city's low-income residents and residents of color, according to Md. Rabiul Islam and Jean-Daniel M. Saphores in their research, "An L.A. Story: The Impact of Housing Costs on Commuting." The researchers analyze the relationship between housing costs and commutes and consider housing, transportation, public health, and climate implications.

San Francisco's Embarcadero must be elevated as much as 7 feet to prepare for rising sea levels and protect the blocks behind the Embarcadero that hold some of the city's most valuable real estate. While there is not an exact timeline or analysis of how the changes would impact the waterfront attraction, the shoreline defense report is a precursor to a more detailed survey that will come out next month.

A group of Central Valley farmers and desalination supporters are starting to collect signatures to propose a statewide ballot measure that would streamline the process for approving and funding big water projects, which could lead to a big showdown with environmental advocates over the state drought. The measure, "Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022," would require 2%, or $4 billion, of California's general fund to be used for projects that increase water supplies.

The city and county San Francisco released an update to its Vision Zero Action Strategy intended to establish a citywide plan that makes crossing streets safer and promotes slower streets. The update brought together multiple government agencies with local advocacy and community groups and residents to more aggressively work to eliminate traffic deaths.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Bay Area developer John Sweeney, who was punished with a $3.6 million fine for polluting Suisun Bay to construct a duck-hunting club and kite-surfacing center on his 39-acre island, Point Buckler. Sweeney now must clean up the soil he deposited into the water.

The Oakland City Council approved multiple ordinances that will allow RVs, mobile homes, manufactured homes, and tiny houses on residential properties in order to increasing housing options for the city's residents. The council eliminated a decades-old city law that required all residences to be built on a permanent foundation and placed its amendments under the protection of local rent control laws.

A Bay Area school district is hoping to increase funding by finding a developer who will build over 1,100 apartment units on one of its campuses. The Jefferson Union High School District in Daly City is imagining a large multifamily housing project that would stand alongside retail, restaurants, parks, and trails on the 22-acre Serramonte Del Rey campus.

A block of closed and unused retail shops near the 16th Street Mission BART Station is getting closer to being redeveloped into low-income housing after Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Hillary Ronen announced a plan for developer Crescent Heights to gift the 57,000-square-foot parcel to the city. If approved, the deal would produce housing for 330 low-income households on a site originally planned for market-rate housing that raised concerns over gentrification and displacement.

The Wildlands Conservancy closed escrow on a 26,600-acre ranch in Northern California and will transform the space with a 10-bedroom lodge into an open space with mountains and valleys for the public. The family of investment giant Dean Witter sold the plot on the Eel River for $25 million to the conservation group that plans to welcome hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, and camping on the site.

The Mojave Trails National Monument may be designated as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary, which defines spaces that are remote, open to the public, and host a particularly good spot for viewing starry nights because they are very dark.

Bakersfield is introducing an experimental program that will select 100 vulnerable, young residents to participate in a year-long study that examines how free access to public transit and electric scooters and bikes impacts their lives. The program reflects a nationwide interest in the concept of universal basic mobility, which would guarantee a minimum level of transportation accessibility.

The Los Angeles City Council approved the city's first two Jobs and Economic Development Zones: one on Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood and another on the Goodyear Tract in South Central. The JEDI Zone incentive program is intended to support small businesses by increasing access to capital, introducing loan program fees and interest reductions, and simplifying compliance and permitting processes.

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.