HCD Rolls Out "Prohousing" Designation for Cities and Counties
The state Department of Housing & Community Development will give some cities and counties preference for housing, infrastructure, and community development programs if they adopt certain housing production strategies. The so-called "Prohousing Initiative" will favor jurisdictions that promote duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes, upzone near jobs and transit, and put more low-income housing in "high opportunity' neighborhoods. Jurisdictions receiving the Prohousing designation will receive bonus points for Infill Infrastructure Grants administered by HCD and Transformative Climate Communities and Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities grants administered by the Strategic Growth Council. TCC is expected to receive a massive infusion of cash from the current California budget surplus.

New Developers Submit Proposals for Concord Naval Weapons Station
After a deal to redevelop the Concord Naval Weapons Station fell apart last year, three development teams are competing to revive the mixed-use development, which would be the largest of its kind in the Bay Area. The plan would turn out 13,000 housing units, 2,700 of parkland, and 6 million square feet of office space in the site still filled with toxic material. Lennar Corporation and FivePoint Holdings were the original developers, but disagreements over labor requirements set by the Contra Costa Building Trades Council ended the agreement. The new potential developer — Brookfield Properties, City Ventures, or a collaboration between Seeno/Discovery Companies, Lewis Group of Companies, and California Capital Investment Group — will have to make at least 25% of its homes affordable, ensure that 40% of the workforce is local, and provide reliable, living wages to workers. The city will likely endorse a developer in the next five weeks before the city council makes its final vote as soon as late August. (See prior CP&DR coverage.)

Surplus Land Act Complicates Mixed-Use Development at Angel Stadium
The City of Anaheim’s redevelopment of property surrounding Angel Stadium may be in violation of the Surplus Land Act, according to a letter composed by the Housing and Community Development Department. The city sold the 150-acre property to SRB management, a company associated with Angels owner Arte Moreno, for $150 million in cash, while an additional $170 million would be put toward community benefits, such as 466 affordable housing and a public park. In its letter, the HCD maintains that the city violated state law because it did not contact affordable housing developers before entering its excess property deal with SRB management, while the city believes that the Surplus Land Act does not apply in this case because they entered negotiations before its enactment. The HCD is considering the city’s response before moving forward with further action, and the consequences could range from a forced resale to a monetary penalty. If the sale moves forward, Moreno proposes a site with 5,175 residential units, two hotels, shops, offices, and a new baseball stadium. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Report Puts $11.8 Billion Price Tag on Solving Bay Area Homelessness
The Bay Area Council believes that $11.8 billion is required to solve homelessness entirely in the Bay Area. The majority of their calculation is devoted to creating adequate housing for the (typically underestimated) 35,118 people living on the streets, and the rest would be used to maintain that infrastructure. Considering 73% of the area’s unhoused population lives without any form of shelter, the infrastructure plan includes both constructing emergency shelter and converting existing buildings into housing to minimize costs. Their recommendations and calculated budget is significant, as more state leaders are announcing plans to spend billions of dollars on homelessness programs and housing.

Los Angeles Planning Department Seeks Equitable Distribution of New Housing
The Los Angeles Department of City Planning released a report outlining strategies to distribute affordable housing more equitably throughout the city. The report proposes the establishment of an equitable Housing Element rezoning program, the establishment of housing targets by community, and other strategies to ensure that equity is at the forefront of future land use considerations. City Planning is proposing a structural change that will require every neighborhood in the City to do its part to address the housing crisis. The department is also proposing new rezoning strategies that will focus additional housing capacity in high-opportunity areas with good access to jobs and/or transit, while protecting tenants and vulnerable communities as well as environmentally sensitive areas. In the coming weeks, City Planning will unveil a comprehensive suite of policies and programs as part of the Housing Element Update.

CP&DR Coverage: Major Land Use Bills Stay Alive in Legislature
The deadline for bills to move out of their houses of origin passed in early June. Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10, to eliminate single-family zoning and allow cities to up-zone around transit hubs, have gotten buzz around the state. They remain alive, as do many other housing and land use bills. The preliminary success of AB 1401 has cheered housing and active transportation advocates alike. It would prohibit cities from imposing parking minimums in areas near transit, discouraging the use of single-driver automobiles and facilitating denser development. Unusual for a land use bill, AB 1401 has been endorsed by the California Restaurant Association, on the premise that parking requirements are often burdensome for restaurants. Despite vehement opposition from other groups, AB 1401 passed the Assembly 51-17 on June 1 and is now sitting in the Senate Government & Finance and Housing Committees.

Quick Hits & Updates

While many transportation officials have criticized plans to widen the 710 Freeway due to concerns over air pollution and displacement, Caltrans has not completely killed the project yet. The current plan, which seeks expansion under environmental regulations for the heavy truck traffic, seems unlikely to move forward but could return in a less aggressive form.

Los Angeles Metro approved plans for the North Hollywood Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Project, giving the green light to narrow down the most impactful route designs. In Pasadena, the BRT is proposed to operate within mixed flow travel lanes along Colorado Boulevard instead of one dedicated lane.

The San Clemente City Council voted to leave the Orange County Transportation Corridor Agency following a history of tension about the agency’s plan to extend the 241 Freeway through the city. The lawsuit surrounding this controversy remains in progress, and the city’s exit is already forming disagreements about remaining fees owed to the agency.

In its Westchester/Veterans and Crenshaw/Imperial TOD Plans, the City of Inglewood hopes to adopt new zoning rules that will introduce over 4,000 homes, nearly 6,000 jobs, and extensive commercial space near Metro transit stops. The proposals, whose environmental impact report is now available for public review, also include plans to increase urban forestry, public parks, and pedestrian mobility.

The Marin Agricultural Land Trust purchased its first conservation easement that covers aquaculture and will allow the Hog Island Oyster Co. to operate a sustainable shellfish farm on part of its 250-acre Leali Ranch. MALT believes that the easement will contribute to cleaner air and water and restore nearby ecosystems.

Anti-gentrification activists in San Francisco recently 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.

The Oakland City Council will consider an ordinance designed to increase affordable housing availability on private property, including tiny homes, manufactured homes, and RVs. The ordinance will update building and zoning laws to address the rising cost of housing production in a market where affordable housing is extremely limited: construction costs have increased by 119%, while no minimum-wage earning residents can afford the Bay Area.

A report on nationwide apartment rental and single-family housing market trends by Hillgard Analytics affirms that, due to the pandemic, many California residents are moving away from large, high-cost cities to nearby, cheaper areas. Apartment rental prices in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan areas saw some of the greatest national decreases, while Riverside-San Bernardino saw an 11.6% year-over-year increase in rent costs, though these trends might reverse as cities reopen.

The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy purchased 117 acres of land overlooking Lake Hodges in Escondido to protect the biodiverse region from the area’s increasing development. The $3 million purchase contributes to the conservancy’s plan to create a 70-mile Coast to Crest Trail along the river valley.

The Sonoma Land Trust purchased a conservation easement that will permanently prohibit any development of the expansive Russian River ranch outside Healdsburg, an area of particular interest for the construction of large estate homes. The easement will protect the region’s extensive biodiversity and deliver multiple benefits to nearby residents, including potable water filtration, groundwater recharging, and greenhouse gas storage.

Accessory dwelling units may increase the number of available rental properties, but they are not a solution to LA’s housing crisis, according to a report by UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs researcher Rebecca E. Crane. In her study, which responds to 2016 state legislation focused on stimulating ADU construction, Crane determined that too few homeowners are converting their ADUs into low-cost, long-term housing to advance affordable housing accessibility.

The City of Fresno hopes to gain oversight of mobile home park health and safety after Ronald Richardson passed away in a fire in Trails End Mobile Home park, which did not have a permit to operate. Officials state that local control over safety inspection will require the city to inspect at least 5% of the parks and ensure that the city is aware of any threats to the lives of park residents.

The Inland Empire is the fourth-riskiest housing market nationwide, according to the Bubble Watch Index, which evaluates pricing, sales speed, inventory, and rents in 47 of the United States’ metropolitan areas. The index determined that the Riverside-San Bernardino metro ranked first in rent change, exhibiting an annual rent increase of 15%. 

Oakland’s I-980 and San Francisco’s Great Highway were included among the Congress for the New Urbanism’s 15 “Freeways without Futures 2021,” which lists the country’s most destructive highways. The CNU proposes that these sites are ideal for meaningful infrastructure transformation due to their expansive damage and includes campaigns for each location that would advance health, equity, and community strength.

Pony.ai became the eighth company to obtain a driverless testing permit in California and will begin to test self-driving cars in Fremont, Milpitas, and Irvine. Local residents may see these on the road on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. given safe weather conditions and in areas with a speed limit below 45 miles per hour.

Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit announced plans for its gondola route from Union Station to Dodger Stadium to pass above Alameda Street and through Chinatown with a station at Los Angeles State Historic Park. Officials at LA ART noted that this route will allow the gondola’s thousands of riders to view the city’s local culture, and the plan is now under environmental review.