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CP&DR News Briefs July 12, 2022: SB 35 Streamlining; Bruce's Beach; Laguna Beach Coastal Suit; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Jul 12, 2022

HCD Determines Vast Majority of Jurisdictions Subject to SB 35 Streamlining
The Department of Housing and Community Development announced updated SB 35 Determinations displaying the California cities and counties that are subject to streamlined housing approvals for specific housing projects under Senate Bill 35. For 2022, a total of 38 jurisdictions are exempt from streamlining, meaning that HCD considers their housing policies in full compliance with SB 35. Two-Hundred-Thirty-Eight jurisdictions are subject to SB 35 streamlining with at least 50% affordability; developments with at least 50% affordability would also be able to access SB 35 streamlining in the 263 jurisdictions noted below, for a total of 501 jurisdictions. Two-hundred-thirty-six jurisdictions are subject to streamlining with at least 10% affordability. For most of the state (501 jurisdictions out of 539 jurisdictions) SB 35 Streamlining is available to developments with at least 50% affordability. Accompanying the updated SB 35 Determination is an online interactive map. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Manhattan Beach to Return Property Unjustly Taken from Black Family
Bruce's Beach, an open space that belonged to a Black family before the City of Manhattan Beach seized the property nearly a century ago and displaced the family, will officially be returned to the family of Willa and Charles Bruce. In 1995, the city transferred the beach to Los Angeles County, which unanimously approved the transfer last week. The county will rent the property from the Bruces for the next year. The move appears to be a historic plan that could encourage the return of more land to Black and Indigenous people and people of color, as many local entities are proposing land returns to combat long histories of government-sponsored displacement.

Laguna Beach Sues Coastal Commission over Handling of Downtown Plan
The Laguna Historic Preservation Coalition and two other groups have sued the Coastal Commission over its alleged negligence of detailing the environmental impacts of the Laguna Beach Downtown Specific Plan Update and voluntary preservation guidelines for property owners. The groups are requesting that officials rescind their authorization of the Specific Plan unanimously approved by the Coastal Commission and the historic preservation ordinance. The preservationists argue that the Commission flouted environmental law by failing to implement restrictions that would preserve "historically significant architecture" during remodeling, which they argue benefits larger property developers while harming "California character." The Historic Preservation Coalition has already failed in its attempt to restrict a remodel last year when a judge ruled that its argument about the threat to historic architecture seemed unfounded.

Study Finds Affordable Housing Does Not Affect Nearby Property Values in O.C.
A new study led by UC Irvine professor George Tita and the university's Livable Cities Lab confirms that affordable housing developments do not increase crime or hurt property values. The researchers' findings, using affordable complexes in Orange County, aligned with previous studies on affordable housing and found that, conversely, these developments tend to drive home prices higher, possibly because affordable developments tend to have more elaborate design standards or replace underused motels and commercial spaces. The researchers presented their findings to officials in the City of Irvine, hoping that the Orange County-specific data will encourage local policymakers to take a more generous approach to affordable housing projects.

CP&DR Analysis: How Abortion Ruling Could Affect Property Rights 
An indirect effect of the Supreme Court's abortion ruling in Dobbs could affect the way cities approach zoning and development approvals, writes Bill Fulton. For a century, zoning has been considered a constitutional limitation on private property rights in large part because courts – even very conservative ones -- have consistently found that property owners don’t have a constitutional right to develop their property under the 14th Amendment. It would seem that Dobbs would make it even harder for developers in California and elsewhere to file Section 1983 lawsuits and other claims that land-use decisions deprive them of their rights under the 14th Amendment – unless the land-use decision is so egregious it shocks the conscious.

Quick Hits & Updates 
A state appeals court has sided with two Berkeley neighborhoods groups hoping to stall UC Berkeley's student housing construction at People's Park. UC Berkeley may not move forward with any construction, demolition, tree clearing, or landscape alteration activities until July 19 when a more formal decision must be delivered.

The Los Angeles City Council approved a plan to implement a Mobility Plan that was adopted seven years ago but has barely moved forward. The Mobility Plan includes proposals for a bus lane network, protected bike lanes, and "pedestrian-priority" areas in order to reduce traffic dangers, which have increased since 2015, and promote more auto-independency. The action plan includes increased coordination and prioritized action in low-income communities.

A major warehouse project proposed for Beaumont has been put on pause after local residents, union workers, and environmental advocates argued for hours against the plan. Beaumont Planning Commissioners voted, 4-1, against recommending that the City Council approve an environmental impact report.

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission has voted to remove Howard Terminal's 56 acres from port designation, a key move allowing the project to move forward. Meanwhile, the fate of the project will remain in elected officials' hands after the Oakland City Council voted against a measure that would allow voters to decide if public funding should be spent on the waterfront development.

A jury found downtown Los Angeles real estate developer Dae Yong Lee guilty of bribery in the corruption case against former City Councilman José Huizar when Lee paid Huizar $500,000 to push forward his plan for for a 20-story tower. Lee was also found guilty of wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

In the midst of the planned closure of San Jose's Reid-Hillview Airport, a new study found that lead levels in the airport's soil did not exceed local, state, or federal standards. However, the debate over the closure remains heated, with many experts advising that particulate matter from airplanes will often land outside the airport, harming nearby residents.

Despite last-minute objections from environmental groups over the L.A. River Master Plan, county officials will move forward with their plan to reimagine the river alongside architect Frank Gehry. The groups cited their disapproval of Gehry's "elevated platform parks," which they say have taken precedent over protecting the river itself.

With the end of their current lease coming to an end, the Santa Cruz Warriors, winner of the 2015 NBA G League Championship, are searching for their next arena in lower downtown. The city council voted to begin an environmental impact report, and the planning department is working on redevelopment options with at least 1,800 housing units and new public spaces.


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