Anaheim Stadiums Plan Major Mixed-Use Redevelopments
The Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim announced significant new mixed-use redevelopment plans around their respective stadiums, both in Anaheim’s “Platinum Triangle,” that will create a new urban center in Orange County. The Angels' vision, which includes a commitment to stay in Anaheim through 2050, is 150 acres of parks, shops, restaurants, offices, two hotels, and just over 5,000 homes. (The team has put off the decision whether it will build a new stadium or renovate the existing one.) Construction is set to begin in 2025 and end in 2050. The same week, the Ducks went public with their plans for ocV!BE, a 115-acre entertainment, office, and residential development anchored by the Honda Center arena. The project would include a new 6,000-seat concert hall, more than 30 places to eat, 30 acres of public parks and plazas, two hotels, and a 2,800-unit residential component. Officials with both the Angels and Ducks organizations said they expect their offerings to complement each other. Both developments will largely occupy existing parking lots, numbering several thousand spaces.
Bay Area RHNA Numbers Call for 441,000 New Housing Units
The newly released Regional Housing Needs Allocation from the Department of Housing and Community Development calls for the Bay Area to double the rate of construction from the previous eight-year cycle to 441,000 new housing units between 2022 and 2030. The region is short of meeting its current goal of building 187,990 new homes with only two years left to catch up. The state estimates the region needs over 100,000 new units for very low income residents, 70,000 each for low income and moderate income residents, and nearly 200,000 market rate homes. The assessment has come up short as far as major stakeholder groups are concerned: Bay Area housing advocates say the housing goals are too conservative, slow-growth homeowners, who feel the number is too high, and city leaders, who worry the numbers are unreachable, especially so during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Association of Bay Area Governments has 30 days to appeal, but staff cautioned that the decision was made in collaboration between the state and regional planners and was unlikely to change.
Three Measures Related to Land Use Confirmed for November Ballot
The Secretary of State has confirmed and released ballot measure numbers for the November statewide ballot. Two 2020 ballot measures could have wide-ranging effects on how both residential and commercial properties are taxed, and another measure will take another swing at statewide rent control (a more modest effort, Prop 10, failed in 2018). Proposition 15 seeks to create a set of new rules for commercial property taxes, but wouldn't touch residential property taxes. It would assess commercial property taxes at market-rate values, phased in over three years. Some small businesses would have a longer transition taxes, and some exemptions are built into the measure. Proposition 19, if approved by voters, would allow California seniors over 55 to purchase a new home and continue to pay the same or lower taxes as they paid at their previous residence. The proposition also expands the property tax break for older homeowners to those who lose their home to a wildfire, and cracks down on the transfer of a home from a parent to an adult child in which the property tax payment does not change. Proposition 21 revives a statewide rent control measure rejected by California voters in 2018. The measure would supersede any local rent control rules.
San Diego to Zone for 108,000 Additional Units
A new housing element that calls for tripling yearly housing construction for a total of 108,000 units by 2029 was unanimously approved by San Diego City Council. The approved blueprint meets San Diego's RHNA allocation, but comes with the large caveat that even in a robust economy, the 13,500 yearly target is an ambitious jump from the current 4,100 unit target. Amid a pandemic, those goals will be even harder to realize. Importantly, the council amended the plan to require specific housing production goals for each of the city's 52 neighborhoods, ensuring each would absorb its fair share of new housing. The plan includes statistics on how the housing crisis is affecting lower-income residents: more than 1,500 evictions took place in 2016, and that rents have increased 46 percent since 2012. Those numbers highlight the city's struggle to meet housing allocations in the lower- and middle-income bands, while nearly meeting the city's goal for upper-income residents. On the bright side, the housing element shows that San Diego has plenty of developable land to accommodate new units.
CP&DR Coverage: VMT Arrives in California
Senate Bill 743, the 2013 law that mandates that lead agencies refer to vehicle miles traveled — not level of service - when evaluating transportation impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act, went into effect statewide July 1. Many cities statewide have updated their guidelines and significance thresholds to conform with the law. Others have taken no action, but applicants will nonetheless still be required to perform VMT analysis and, most likely, to adhere to statewide guidelines published by the Office of Planing & Research. The new regulations are designed to encourage more compact development, streamline permitting, and cut down on obstructionist lawsuits.
Quick Hits & Updates
The BART Board of Directors approved a mixed-use housing development at the West Oakland station that will have 762 housing units, 30 percent of which will be affordable, and include 350,000 square feet of retail and office space. The mixed-use complex will be built on existing parking lots at the station. Officials estimate the development will add approximately 1,800 trips to BART's ridership.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development released new guidance on the new laws adopted since the last housing element planning period. It also consolidates all the existing technical assistance related to the required sites inventory analysis into one guidebook.
San Francisco Public Utility's decision to sell the 16-acre Balboa Reservoir at a 50 percent discount from fair market value has generated significant pushback from critics who say the city agency is getting a bad deal. The markdown takes into consideration the fact that the developer will be responsible for financing and building 366 units of affordable housing on the site, along with 550 units of market-rate housing, and $48 million infrastructure improvements.
The "Great American Outdoors Act," a $9.5 billion cash infusion to national parks and co-sponsored by California senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, passed the Senate 73-25. If passed by the House and signed by the president (as expected), it would permanently shift millions of dollars every year in offshore oil drilling revenues to pay for city parks, swimming pools, sports fields, fishing piers, trails and campgrounds in all 50 states. Environmental groups call the bill "a once-in-a-generation opportunity."
The California High-Speed Rail Authority is delaying the approval of a 2020 business plan--a reversal from the board's previous plan to routinely approve the business plan and submit it to the Legislature. Instead, legislators appear to be shifting priority from building in San Joaquin Valley to segments in the Bay Area and Southern California.
Los Angeles County will consider a by-right housing ordinance for unincorporated communities, which would allow developments that conform to established zoning and land use regulations to be approved without review under CEQA. Housing would also be permitted with discretionary review in live/work and mixed-use developments on commercially zoned properties. The ordinance would also extend by-right review to density bonus projects.
California is moving quickly to remove references to Confederate generals as protesters across the country topple monuments to historical figures linked to slavery or colonialism. California's Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks are removing any mention of Robert E. Lee from park brochures and signs. Meanwhile, the City of Fort Bragg will not place a town name change on the November ballot, following a city council vote and more than three hours of public comment.
Planning Commissions in Beverly Hills and Long Beach plan to to bring mixed-use zoning, and greater density, to several of the key commercial boulevards in both cities. Beverly Hills' proposal substantially lowers minimum unit size and reduces parking requirements. Long Beach's proposed zoning districts fade in higher density as properties approach transit centers.
The San Jose City Council unanimously voted to approve a trio of 19-story towers known as CityView Plaza. Developer Jay Paul will demolish all nine buildings currently on the downtown site, ending preservationists' bid to save San Jose's former courthouse, an iconic Brutalist-style edifice built by internationally renowned architect Cesar Pelli.
The San Jose Historic Landmarks Commission is working to protect San Jose's former courthouse from demolition. Built in 1973, the building was designed by a master architect in the brutalist style, and embodies San Jose modernism. But its spare design is not universally beloved, and preservationists will have to make the case (again) to save it as city council considers a 3.4 million-square-foot office campus on the same space.
The U.S. Department of Energy has agreed to remove 10 contaminated buildings at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. The lab's location in the hills above the San Fernando and Simi Valleys for years posed a considerable risk in the event of a wildfire followed by heavy rainfall. The debris will be transported out of state to a radioactive waste facility for disposal, officials said.
Wildfires in California are becoming more frequent and more severe, but a study finds that housing in burned areas is paradoxically going up in value. These neighborhoods are predominantly white and affluent, further subverting expectations: typically, low-income urban communities of color are disproportionately vulnerable to climate impacts.