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CP&DR News Briefs July 5, 2022: S.F. Fourplexes; L.A. Housing Element; SB 375 Effectiveness; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Jul 5, 2022
San Francisco Adopts Controversial Citywide Upzoning Ordinance
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted, on a 6-4 vote, an ordinance designed to permit fourplexes throughout the city and six-unit homes on all corner lots. The ordinance allows property owners to construct duplexes throughout the city. Owners may then receive a density exception to build four or six total units, with the additional units subject to rent control. While housing advocates are celebrating the initiative, many are also concerned that it would not significantly increase housing density, particularly because there are several limits to who can build new housing. In particular, the ordinance requires any units beyond a second unit to be subject to rent control; critics say that restriction all but ensures that anything bigger than a duplex is unlikely to get built at all. The ordinance is the city's enabling legislation for SB 9, which requires cities statewide to eliminate most forms of single-family zoning.

State Accepts Revised Los Angeles Housing Element
The City of Los Angeles's updated housing element, "Plan to House L.A.," has been approved by the Department of Housing and Community Development. Going forward, city planners must approve zoning changes that will plan for 255,000 new homes by 2024. The HCD had previously rejected the draft 2021-2029 housing element, suggesting that the plan's failure to invest in green spaces and economic development in low-income communities hampered equity. In response, the city has proposed centering projects in high-opportunity areas, redeveloping public-facility zoned land, implementing comprehensive community benefits, constructing more ADUs, and assisting low-income homebuyers. Moving forward, the city will be able to pursue state grants to accomplish its goals.

Air Board Draft Report Faults Sustainable Communities Strategies
The state Air Resources Board released its Draft 2022 Progress Report on the state's Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (Senate Bill 375) for public input. The report includes progress updates on greenhouse gas emissions reduction related to transportation, land use, and housing indicators. Notably, the report stressed that an increase in automobile use, caused in slow implementation of plans to discourage driving, is driving pollution, higher costs, and worsened quality of life, particularly for low-income communities and communities of color. Researchers also emphasized that local entities have largely failed to produce enough affordable housing in high-resource neighborhoods despite the policy's importance. The Board will take public comment through July 14, 2022.

Los Angeles Places Affordable Housing & Homelessness Measure on November Ballot
The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously agreed to place a measure that would enforce a sales tax on property worth over $5 million on the November ballot, allowing Los Angeles voters to decide whether wealthy landowners should pay higher taxes to fund affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs. If approved, the tax on properties valued between $5 and $10 million would increase by 4%, and properties valued at over $10 million would see a 5.5% tax increase, affecting a total 3% of property sales. Many affordable housing development would be exempt from the tax. The measure, "House L.A.," finds support from Unite to House L.A., a coalition of affordable housing and labor advocates.

HCD Taps Melinda Coy to Oversee Housing Accountaiblity
Melinda Coy has been named Proactive Accountability Chief of Land Use and Local Government Relations at the California Department of Housing & Community Development. This role oversees the department's work to ensure local governments are implementing thier housing elements once adopted, implementation of the Surplus Lands Act to ensure affordable housing developers have access to available surplus sites, and Housing Preservation Noticing law. Coy was previously a Senior Policy Specialist for the California State Department of Housing and Community Development, responsible for supporting implementation of housing and land use laws and policies including the review of local housing elements of the general plan and the provision of technical assistance to local governments. Coy has a bachelor’s degree in geography and political science from the University of California, Los Angeles and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California.

CP&DR Legal Coverage: Cities Cannot Sue COGs over Housing Targets 
Cities can’t sue their council of governments over the housing targets they are given under the regional housing needs assessment. That’s the decision of an appellate court in San Diego – echoing a ruling originally issued in 2009 from Orange County. In the SANDAG case, the San Diego division of the Fourth District found the situation identical even though the weighted voting question was not an issue in Irvine. Most significantly, the court pointed to a 2004 law that eliminated judicial review of the RHNA process and quoted Irvine as saying, “The City of Irvine court … noted that its conclusion that the Legislature intended to preclude judicial review of RHNA allocations was also supported by the fact that, in 2004, the Legislature expressly removed a prior statutory provision authorizing judicial review of RHNA allocations.

Quick Hits & Updates 
Angels owner Arte Moreno is seeking $5 million from the City of Anaheim to cover the costs of arranging the defunct Angel Stadium sale. Though the city has already agreed to return $50 million in escrow fees, Moreno's development business will file a claim for the city to return title, inspection, and legal fees. Meanwhile,Despite its attempts to distance itself from the failed Angel Stadium deal and the mayor of Anaheim's resignation due to a corruption investigation, the Anaheim City Council is facing heat from an Orange County grand jury, which maintains in its report that officials propelled a lack of transparency in the deal by prioritizing corporate interests. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

A plan to construct a 320-foot dam near Pacheco Pass is facing pushback with a lawsuit which states that the $2.5 billion reservoir proposal fails to consider the environmental impact of drilling and other geological interventions. The lawsuit comes from Stop the Pacheco Dam Coalition, a group of environmentalists and landowners whose property would be flooded.

Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Tony Tavares as the new Caltrans Director. Tavares is the current Director of Caltrans District 7 and has filled several roles in the department since 1997.

A Fresno County Judge issued a tentative ruling that would prevent Adventure Church from stopping the sale of the historic Tower Theater to the city, making the city's ownership virtually certain.

The Encinitas City Council has approved an updated plan for a 250-unit, multi-story apartment development located in the southern edge of Olivenhain with 50 units designated as affordable. The move comes in response to pressure from Attorney General Rob Bonta and state housing officials.

The San Diego Housing Commission's study of citywide affordable housing has received an Award of Excellence from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. The report also recommends several approaches to ensuring sustained affordability that are based off data from an inventory of existing deed-restricted affordable housing units.

A proposed Empty Homes Tax that would tax homeowners with vacant lots in an effort to reduce underused space and raise money to spend on affordable housing projects will likely appear on the November ballot in Santa Cruz. Officials are considering studying water bills to identify vacant homes.

The Culver City Council approved, 3-2, a plan to draft an ordinance that would eliminate parking minimums throughout the entire city and provide recommendations for parking maximums.

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