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CP&DR News Briefs July 20, 2021: Bay Area Housing Appeals; Los Angeles Housing Plan; Plan Bay Area; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Jul 20, 2021

Bay Area Cities Appeal Housing Allocations
The Association of Bay Area Governments received appeals from 28 local governments that will dispute their draft RHNA housing requirements for 2023-2031. The appeals came from 10 communities in Marin County, 6 in Santa Clara County, 6 in Contra Costa County, 3 cities in Alameda County, and 3 from Sonoma County. Instead of filing an appeal, Mountain View, Napa County, San Bruno, San Rafael, and St. Helena sent ABAG comment letters about their allocations. Up until August 30, 2021, ABAG will accept comments from the public, jurisdictions, and HCD on the submitted appeals, and a public hearing will occur in the fall.

Los Angeles Plan Would Add Half-Million Housing Units
Los Angeles City Planning and the Housing + Community Investment Department released a draft plan to provide nearly 500,000 additional housing units over the next eight years, with 200,000 units dedicated to housing for low-income residents. Their proposal, named “The Plan to House LA,” centers equitable development and aims to minimize displacement and homelessness. To achieve its goal and add 57,000 new units annually, the city plans to implement a rezoning program that would increase density allowances in resource-rich neighborhoods zoned for single-family housing while also protecting vulnerable communities. City Planning and HCIDLA is requesting recommendations from the public, and Los Angeles City Council will vote on “The Plan to House LA” in the fall.

MTC/ABAG Release Draft Plan Bay Area 2050
The Draft Plan Bay Area 2050, which outlines the Association of Bay Area Governments’ and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s $1.4 trillion plan for the Bay Area’s future economy, environment, housing, and transportation, is complete and available for public comment. After three years of collaboration, the two groups have released their strategy to generate more public transit, confront the housing crisis, and protect the region against sea level rise. Also central to the plan is ensuring that all policy prioritizes resiliency to weather unforeseen crises and equity to better accommodate all Bay Area residents. The plan includes $468 billion in housing investments, $579 billion for transportation, $234 billion for economic development, among other investments. Adoption is anticipated this fall.

A’s and Oakland Continue to Disagree Over New Stadium, Coliseum Redevelopment
In the latest installment of the Oakland A’s Howard Terminal proposal saga, the city and the A’s continue to disagree on one particular matter: the infrastructure tax financing districts to support the development. While the team and the city are getting closer to agreeing on some previous points of contention, including affordable housing and non-relocation agreements, the A’s rejected the city’s financial requirements. Meanwhile, a group of community members are demanding that the team commits to ensuring community benefits and building affordable units at its Howard Terminal location instead of executing the A’s plan to predominantly fund affordable housing elsewhere. Currently, the city is requiring that half of the A’s 30% affordable housing proposal be built onsite, which would result in 450 units.

Statewide Housing Permits Jump 25 Percent
According to an analysis of Census data analyzed by the Public Policy Institute of California, during the first four months of 2021, the number of new housing units authorized statewide increased 25% compared to the same period in 2020. Growth in March and April was particularly robust, with new permits exceeding 10,000 units in each month—the first time since 2007 that those months have seen such large numbers. Of course, this sharp increase is in comparison with the very low number of permits authorized at the start of the pandemic. In the first four months of 2021, residential permits in the Bay Area were higher than a year ago, but this increase was not enough to compensate for the major decline that we saw between 2019 and 2020. In contrast, other metros like Sacramento, San Diego, and Los Angeles actually saw increases in 2020 that have continued into 2021. Indeed, housing production in Sacramento has boomed since the pandemic started in response to a growing number of Bay Area residents relocating. Over the past 20 years, permitting for single-family homes has fallen from an annualized high of nearly 150,000 in 2004 to about 55,000 today; permitting for multifamily projects has fluctuated much less, from an annualized high of just under 59,000 in 2005 to just under 47,000 in April of this year.

CP&DR Coverage: Planning Takes a Loooong Time
We at CP&DR are used to these long timeframes. Sometimes our biggest editorial challenge is choosing whether to cover a project next month, a year from now, or three years from some. Sometimes, it literally makes no difference, since a story today would end up being the same as a story a year from now. And yet, there are projects that, no matter how important strain even our patience and that illustrate just how creaky California planning can be sometimes. Here is our account of the state's longest-running planning and development stalemates

Quick Hits & Updates
The Jurupa Valley City Council voted 4-1 to allow EM Ranch Owner, LLC to apply for a general plan amendment to construct 1.5 million square feet of warehouses as part of a 250-acre mixed-use development along the 60 Freeway. While their vote does not signify approval of the project, concerns remain that authorizing this first step could result in warehouse expansion near homes, schools, and places of worship. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

An environmental group will sue multiple state agencies over their plan to demolish the California Capitol annex to construct a new, modern office space for lawmakers. The Save the Capitol, Save the Trees coalition argues that the state must complete another environmental review and that there are alternatives to demolition, which would erase a historically significant building and surrounding trees.

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research has opened its Challenge 2021 Grant Program Request for Proposals through September 13, 2021. The program will build off of its 2020 equivalent, which sought to increase community resilience in the face of climate change, by offering funding to community-based organizations and local and regional entities who center resilience in under-resourced communities.

After the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors decided to ban all new vineyards located in the Santa Monica Mountains, the Malibu Coast American Viticultural Area will sue the county because they believe the prohibition violates the CEQA. The group joins other vineyard owners who find that their agriculture is essential to offsetting previous and minimizing future wildfire damage and is already a sustainable practice that cares for a species native to the region.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to extend the urban limit line east of Blackhawk to accommodate a 125-home development on 30 acres in Tassajara Valley. The developer, FT Land, LLC, committed to devoting 727 acres to the East Bay Regional Park District for open space, which supervisors believe will end sprawl development.

While neighborhood groups will not surrender, the City of Berkeley has agreed to drop its opposition to UC Berkeley’s construction project at Hearst and La Loma avenues, to enrollment increases, and to other housing and sports development plans. In exchange, UC Berkeley will have to provide $82.64 million over the next 16 to pay for the city’s increased police and fire department budgets, provide services for nearby residents, improve streets, and agree to city zoning standards and “collaborative planning” with the city.

San Francisco is the next city likely to make outdoor parklets – crucial pandemic infrastructure – a permanent option for outdoor dining. Though contention over amendments adopted by city supervisors is complicating approval, most officials hope to move forward with the program because of its value in pandemic recovery.

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted to establish an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District for the Samoa Peninsula to promote sustainable development in energy, aquaculture, and international communication. Over 2,400 acres located southwest of the Samoa Bridge will be dedicated toward enhancing infrastructure and job growth.

While anti-gentrification activists in San Francisco's Valencia neighborhood invoked the California Environmental Quality Act to challenge a tech-hub coffeeshop’s conditional use permit, the Board of Supervisors denied the appeal, likely allowing The Creamery to move into its 14th and Mission Street location. Officials noted that they understood community members’ concern over displacement but that a CEQA appeal was legally irrelevant in this case.

San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott will add Jason Hughes, volunteer advisor to former Mayor Kevin Faulconer, as a defendant in a lawsuit filed last year by the city over its lease-to-own agreement for the vacant 101 Ash Street property, on which the city has spent tens of millions of dollars. Elliott’s move follows the revelation that Hughes received a secret payment of nearly $10 million while advising the mayor on the Ash Street deal and the Civic Center Plaza agreement.

The South Bay Cities Council of Governments has a plan to transform 243 miles of roads in south LA County into a 25 mph or less zone that could accommodate GEM cars, e-bikes, e-scooters, electric skateboards, and other zero-emission, low-speed forms of transportation. SBCCOG’s proposed Local Travel Network is intended to reduce emissions and traffic and increase rider safety.

Oakland’s I-980 and San Francisco’s The Great Highway were included in the Congress for the New Urbanism’s “Freeways Without Futures 2021” report, which highlights the country’s fifteen most disruptive freeways. The report proposes that, due to the severe damage caused by these highways, transforming their infrastructure could meaningfully help rebuild impacted communities and increase economic opportunity.