Southern California Cities Get Relief on Zoning Update Deadline
State policymakers are planning to take some of the pressure off of Los Angeles and other large Southern California cities to meet state housing goals under an impending deadline. While the City of Los Angeles currently has an October deadline to rezone and allocate land to construct 250,000 new homes, state officials are now suggesting that completing that goal would be impossible and are proposing that the city have until fall 2024, which should give Los Angeles plenty of time to rezone for more housing. The new timeline would also give Los Angeles and other cities an opportunity to apply for state affordable housing grants, a critical resource that would disappear if the city did not meet the October deadline. (See related CP&DR coverage.)
Bonta Cites Undue Pollution in CEQA Suit Against Moreno Valley General Plan
Attorney General Rob Bonta is taking the lead on a lawsuit against Moreno Valley's General Plan, arguing that its environmental review violates the CEQA and will heighten pollution in an area already saturated with polluted air from large-scale warehouses. Bonta has stated that Moreno Valley failed to consider a proper environmental baseline, the rise in pollutants that would violate air quality standards, and the impact on nearby schools, hospitals, and communities. Bonta argues that Moreno Valley did not fully account for and mitigate the environmental and public health consequences of its General Plan. Specifically, Moreno Valley fails to compare the General Plan’s air quality impacts against a proper environmental baseline; evaluate whether the General Plan would lead to a significant, cumulative increase in pollutants like ozone and particulate matter, which impacts whether the region can meet state and federal air quality standards; and consider whether the General Plan would increase pollution near schools, hospitals, and other sensitive sites or otherwise negatively impact the surrounding communities. The suit also claims Moreno Valley’s Climate Action Plan also contains unenforceable measures that fall short of what is required to mitigate the General Plan’s anticipated greenhouse gas impacts. “Communities in Moreno Valley experience some of the highest levels of air pollution in the state. We're intervening today so that those communities do not continue to bear the brunt of poor land use decisions that site warehouses outside their doors," said Bonta in a statement.
Report Faults Prop. 13 for Exacerbating Inequity
A new analysis of Proposition 13 details the extent to which the initiative has exacerbated the wealth gap, housing shortage, and unjust funding for public schools. The report, conducted by the Opportunity Institute and Pivot Learning and titled "Unjust Legacy," is intended to provide elected officials and other researchers with a more comprehensive understanding of the damage caused by the 1978 initiative passed by voters angered by rising property taxes. Researchers concluded that Prop. 13's heightening of generational wealth for wealthy white families--in addition to redlining, exclusionary zoning, and racism--has severely restricted access to wealth, housing, and other resources for low-income families and families of color. Additionally, in the two decades following Prop. 13's approval, California dropped from fifth to 47th place in nationwide per-student funding, propelling California's education gap.
Developer Purchases Great America Theme Park for Long-Awaited Redevelopment
A San Francisco developer has purchased the land on which Santa Clara's Great America amusement park stands for $310 million. The operator, Cedar Fair, purchased the land that it had been leasing for over 40 years ago from the City of Santa Clara just three years ago. Now, Cedar Fair has commented that it sold the sale under debt pressure to Prologis, who will lease the park back to Cedar Fair for the next six years. Cedar Fair can extend the agreement up to 11 years. Prologis has not yet commented on its development plans once the 11 years is up. (See related CP&DR coverage.)
CP&DR Coverage: New Wrinkle in CEQA Exemptions
The age-old question under the California Environmental Quality Act: When is a government action exempt under CEQA? The question is still evolving, as a recent unpublished appellate court ruling involving Los Angeles-controlled water in Mono County shows. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power has controlled water in Mono County for more than a century and during that time has been engaged in more than a few battles with both local officials and environmentalists over how much water to ship to L.A. and what environmental mitigation should be required. The latest involves a set of leases on 6,100 acres of land owned by DWP in Mono County which were approved in 2010. A trial judge sided with the Sierra Club and Mono County, but the First District Court of Appeal overturned the decision.
Quick Hits & Updates
A judge has blocked Riverside's proposed Magnolia Flats residential and retail center after owners of a nearby supermarket sued, arguing that it would be impossible for delivery trucks and customers to properly access the parking lot. The developer has appealed the injunction and plans to move forward with constructing 450 housing units and a 9,000 square-foot retail center.
The Redlands City Council unanimously approved a moratorium on new warehouses, joining the other Inland cities of Chino, Colton, Riverside, and Jurupa Valley. In the meantime, city staff members will review the impacts of existing facilities to plan for future guidelines.
The Culver City Council has voted, 3-2, to abolish parking minimums after reviewing a survey on citywide off-street parking. However, minimums will remain until the zoning code is amended later this year.
A California federal judge has reversed Trump-era restrictions to the Endangered Species Act, siding with several environmental groups and restoring protections for hundreds of wildlife species facing development and climate danger.
California voters will decide the fate of an initiative to raise $100 billion over 20 years to reduce air pollution on the November ballot. The Clean Cars and Clean Air Act, which received over one million signatures, would tax income over $2 million to fund a transition to electric cars and efforts to reduce wildfire risk.
Los Angeles Metro is pursuing a plan to reduce gentrification near its new train stations: land-banking. The process involves working with the county to purchase land early in the planning process and then selling it to affordable housing developers in order to increase housing accessibility near transit.
The City of Palm Desert has offered city property to the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition at no cost to construct 14 multifamily units as part of the Palm Desert Merle Street Urban Self Help Program. Officials plan for the program to give low-income households an opportunity to become homeowners.
Santa Barbara officials are considering an ordinance that would restrict applications to build new hotels until the housing element is updated to ensure affordable housing construction, especially for service workers. As a result, 21 existing hotel proposals would not move forward in order to limit the rise in vacation rentals and value of land zoned for housing.
San Francisco residents will be some of the first to see ride-hailing, robot-operated Chevy Bolt EVs after the state Public Utilities Commission approved a permit for driverless vehicle maker Cruise. As more vehicles appear on the streets, Cruise is expected to publish an app for residents to request a robotaxi ride.
Los Angeles County will join a new agency established to facilitate the planning, development, and construction of the High Desert Multipurpose Corridor project after the Board of Supervisors approved the motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger. The 54-mile project is part of a larger initiative to connect Los Angeles to Las Vegas.