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CP&DR News Briefs June 8, 2021: OC Housing Lawsuit; Navy Promotes Mixed-Use; Long Beach Airport Redevelopment; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Jun 8, 2021

Orange County Cities to Sue State over Housing Allocations
The board of the Orange County Council of Governments (OCCOG) voted, 15-0, to sue the Department of Housing and Community Development over its most recent Regional Determination under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment. In its statement on the legal action, the board maintains that the HCD did not follow the statutes outlined in state law to develop the projected number of units needed in the next eight years to adequately house Orange County’s population. Though Orange County continues to adhere to the state’s housing requirements, the OCCOG believes that the latest state-determined zoning quotas will be unfair to local taxpayers. (See related CP&DR coverage and commentary.)

Navy Proposes 10,000-Unit, Mixed-Use Redevelopment Near Old Town San Diego
In a draft environmental impact report, the Navy proposed that the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command — a World War II-era bomber plant in Old Town San Diego –be reimagined as a high-density, mixed-use development featuring over 100 buildings, 10,000 residences, 2.5 million square feet of office and retail space, and mass transit. The Navy chose this blueprint with tall buildings, ambitious housing, and transportation plans over options that lacked these features, maintaining that this proposal not only provides essential services to NAVWAR and its employees and visitors but is also suitable for an unpredictable future due to its versatility. The recommendation is still conceptual and is now available for public comment through July 13.

Long Beach to Transform Defunct Industrial Zone around Airport
The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously to advance a plan that will direct the development of 437 acres of land west of Long Beach Airport. The former Boeing C-17 facility and the surrounding land was initially going to be rezoned immediately, but the council instead provides a 10-year transition period for parcels under 10 acres to accommodate the new plan. The Globemaster Corridor Identification Plan includes several different districts within the area. It includes a Business Park area that is planned to be "a campus-style district" with businesses ranging from Research and Development to warehousing to aviation uses. Several other districts of the plan include commercial districts that offer retail, hotel, and service uses. An open space district would offer recreation, cultural, and community service activities.

CP&DR Event: The -Plex Paradox: Writing the Code to Undo Single-Family Zoning (June 17)
The upzoning of potentially millions of single-family lots poses a monumental technical challenge to California’s planners. Zoning changes must account for density, design, parking, infrastructure, fire danger, and topography — among other complicating factors. It’s a challenge that some cities are already willingly taking on and that others will have to take on if Senate Bill 9 or a successor passes. Please join us at noon Thursday, June 17 to discuss how planners in early-adopter cities are approaching this challenge and how planners and urban designers around the state can prepare for what may be one of the major planning trends of the coming years. Presented by the California Planning & Development Report, the California Chapter of the American Planning Association, and the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley. Click for details and registration info.

Quick Hits & Updates

The Blackstone Group, one of the largest landlords in San Diego County, intends to purchase 5,800 units for over $1 billion, marking a momentous real estate transaction. The private equity firm's assets in the area currently total $4.5 billion, and the group plans to spend $100 million to renovate its upcoming purchases. The firm also expressed its goal to ensure affordable housing with free in-building services. (See related CP&DR commentary.)

Northern California's McCloud River has been named one of American Rivers' ten "most endangered rivers." A Trump-era decision to raise the height of Shasta Dam on the McCloud could have devastating implications for the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. Though the river is federally protected from dams, the height increase, if left unmitigated by the Biden Administration, would flood 5,000 acres of nearby forest and riverside habitats.

The City of Long Beach is proposing to supplement its density bonus program with new transportation incentives, allowing housing development to expand in neighborhoods close to bus and rail lines. The proposal, which is still in its approval phase, underscores a connection between population density and public transit.

A Court of Appeal sided with the Coastal Commission and will require the City of Santa Barbara to permit more vacation rental properties. The city lost to its own 2015 decision which determined that any development proposal must apply for a Coastal Development Permit, and its attempt to restrict vacation rentals is considered a development. The Coastal Commission maintains that allowing for more rental properties will increase access to affordable vacations in the area.

The Coastal Commission's decision to prohibit off-roading at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area faces legal challenges from Friends of Oceano Dunes. The organization, whose lawsuit is the fourth response to the decision, argues that the site should be legally designated for OHV use.

A longstanding argument between the City of San Francisco and the state over the Tuolumne River came to a head yet again when the city filed a lawsuit, maintaining that the state's actions would result in water shortages for San Francisco residents, while the state claims that the city must restrict its river water extraction in order to maintain the Tuolumne's natural ecosystem. The lawsuit signifies a longstanding debate over how to allocate the limited resource, especially with increasing pressure from climate change.

Fresno's 81-year-old Tower Theatre may achieve historical landmark status if the court permits the City of Fresno to enter and appraise the building. The city filed its order in the midst of heightening controversy over the Tower Theatre's sale. Failing that, the city may invoke eminent domain.

A Fresno County Superior Court judge ruled that the City of Clovis has been violating California Housing Element Law and will be required to meet its RHNA requirement for more than 4,000 homes. The judge ordered that Clovis implement a new housing program in the next 120 days to include 4,425 low-income housing units.

The San Jose city council approved "The Breeze of Innovation," a new iconic landmark that won an international competition in 2019. The structure will consist of 500 flexible rods, each 200-feet-high, that say in the breeze. The energy created by the motion will be used to provide electricity to the building and light up the rods at night. (See prior CP&DR commentary.)

A study from the University of Redlands compares warehouse locations with data about health, wealth, poverty, online shopping, race and ethnicity. They illustrate a troubling trend: low income, Black, and Latino populations are disproportionately burdened by the pollution that comes with the logistics industry, especially in the Inland Empire and some freeway corridors of Los Angeles County.

Californians see BART and Caltrain as redundant organizations, according to a new Bay Area Council poll that found 83 percent of respondents support combining BART and Caltrain into a single integrated system. Support rises to 86 percent when respondents are told that a merged system “would provide for a more efficient, convenient and better service and allow continuous rail around the bay.”

Following a scathing city audit that laid out flaws in Oakland's homeless encampment management strategy, which has largely consisted of moving people from one street to another, Oakland City Council is proposing a range of new ideas using vacant lots to house the city's homeless residents. Tiny homes, yurts, RV parks and more could pop up everywhere from Lake Merritt to East Oakland.

Five environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in a Montana federal court alleging that the way that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues permits for oil and gas pipelines nationwide violates the Clean Water Act. The battle centers on whether pipeline builders should be allowed to use a generic permit, known to regulators as Nationwide Permit 12, when pipelines cross rivers, streams, and wetlands.
According to a recent analysis, Redwood City  is the rare Bay Area city that is exceeding its housing goals: more than a dozen major apartment buildings have popped up over the past six years in downtown Redwood City. For the current period, Redwood City is on course to build 4,143 housing units, about 33 percent more than the allocation goal of 2,789. These numbers are in contrast with many of its neighbors in the San Francisco Peninsula region. 

The scenic San Diego County mountain town of Julian was recently certified as California’s second dark-sky community, following the lead of nearby Borrego Springs. Residents established the Julian Dark Sky Network in 2016, working with the county for several years to enact an outdoor lighting ordinance that met the standards of the International Dark-Sky Association.

Despite being based in the city, Bird scooters will have to vacate Santa Monica streets by July 1. A selection committee chose Veo, Spin, and Lyft as providers for the city's second shared mobility pilot program. Collectively, the companies are allowed to place 2,000 scooters and e-bikes across the city.

San Jose's historic flea market, known as "La Pulga" to many Hispanic residents, may undergo a radical change to pave way for high-density neighborhood of apartment buildings, offices, and retail shops at its current site. The San Jose Planning Commission is recommending that the city council approve a revised rezoning plan for the 61.5-acre site.

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