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CP&DR News Briefs June 21, 2022: Coastal Height Limits; S.F. Car-Free Ballot Measure; L.A. Union Station; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Jun 21, 2022

State Pre-empts Coastal Height Restriction in San Diego
The Department of Housing and Community Development approved a San Diego affordable housing developer's plan to construct a structure that would extend far beyond the city's 30-foot coastal height limit. San Diego Community Housing Corporation is proposing to construct 60 deed-restricted units within a 60-foot, four to five story building called Rose Creek Apartments. The ground floor would include meeting spaces for support services and social gatherings. The state's permission is expected to set a precedent for residential projects in other neighborhoods, including University City, Pacific Beach, Midway District, and South Bay, which currently feature a low profile due to a 1972 voter initiative that prohibits buildings over 30 feet within the coastal zone. The decision also demonstrates that the State Density Bonus Law supersedes that local initiative.

S.F. Supervisors Seek Ballot Measure to Undo Car-Free Roadway
While the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to to make Golden Gate Park's John F. Kennedy Drive permanently car-free in the spring, a proposed ballot measure would restore car access to JFK and other streets throughout the city. The measure, "Access for All," was filed by disability advocate Howard Chabner and has found support from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco as an effort to increase equitable street access. It would restore car presence not only on JFK but various citywide stretches with exceptions on Sundays, holidays, and Saturdays for half of the year, a pre-pandemic policy. The measure still needs certification to collect signatures and will require 9,000 signatures to appear on the November ballot but would likely face significant opposition from officials and the majority of residents who support a car-free JFK.

Major Upgrades to L.A. Union Station Approved
The Los Angeles Metro Board of Directors and California High-Speed Rail Authority approved an agreement for funding the initial phase of upgrades to Union Station, paving the way for two run-through tracks and a viaduct over the US-101 freeway. The funding includes $423.3 million for the project's first phase and a $297.8 million preconstruction budget, totaling only a fraction of the Link Union Station project's $2.3 billion cost. Plans for the following phases include raising the main platform, more run-through tracks, and a new passenger concourse. Officials hope that the new station will provide transit for over 200,000 passengers daily and encourage access to more nearby bus operations.

Report Catalogs Impediments to SB 9 Projects
New analysis from researchers at UC Berkeley's Terner Center for Housing Innovation considers 10 cities' individualized approaches to introducing SB 9, examining affordability and land use requirements, design standards, and other policies that tend to restrict new home construction. Policy Associate Muhammad Alameldin and Policy Director David Garcia conclude that strict local interpretations make ADU construction less feasible. They outline several policy recommendations for increasing the housing stock under SB 9: providing accessible information about ADU construction, tracking SB 9 project progress under a state system, incentivizing construction with pre-approved design standards and same-day permitting approvals, and subsidizing projects to increase affordability.

CP&DR Coverage: Guiding the Next Era of California Planning
Bill Fulton's Guide to California Planning was originally written at the beginning of the 1990s, when the era of infill development was just beginning, and it is hard to know the best way even to revise this book to address the issues of a more urban California. The state legislature passes laws that encourage the development of compact communities in existing urban areas with jobs and transit – and, increasingly, laws that encourage or mandate more housing production – while at the same time the state kills redevelopment, suspends funding for transit operations, and imposes environmental regulations that favor low-density development. It’s as if California wants to embrace its urban future, but is scared to leave behind the familiar suburban past.

Quick Hits & Updates 

The San Benito elections office unofficially approved the petition for the Let Voters Decide How San Benito County Grows initiative, sending the proposal to the county Board of Supervisors who will either adopt the initiative or put it on the November ballot. The initiative would let voters decide the fate of projects that require rezoning.

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.

The Department of Housing and Community Development has released new features in its housing element Annual Progress Report Dashboard, including daily refreshes as local governments submit data, a Timeline Page, Key Figures to aid in progress comprehension, and an option to track headway toward meeting housing requirements.

The pending $400 sale of Point Molate shoreline to the Guidiville Tribe of Pomo Indians and developer Upstream Point Molate LLC is facing turbulence after court officials granted Winehaven Legacy LLC, the previous chosen developer who planned to build thousands of homes on the property, its requested temporary restraining order to prevent the sale.

A federal judge has approved a settlement between the City of Los Angeles and the LA Alliance for Human Rights that requires the city to commit to spending $3 billion on providing 16,000 beds or housing units to unhoused people within five years. The county's part of the lawsuit has not yet been settled.

San Diego officials have officially approved new short-term rental regulations that will cap vacation rentals at one percent of the city's total housing stock, incorporate 16 new enforcement positions, and introduce a lottery system for permits.


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