Pasadena's SB 9 Urgency Ordinance May Violate Law
Attorney General Rob Bonta notified the City of Pasadena that its urgency ordinance restricting the implementation of SB 9 violates state law. Just days before the law went into effect, Pasadena adopted Urgency Ordinance No. 7384, which would allow the city to exempt existing areas from SB 9 requirements by declaring them "landmark districts." Pasadena extended the ordinance on January 10, 2022. Attorney General Bonta warned that the city must repeal its ordinance, or it will be held accountable for disregarding state laws intended to combat the housing crisis. The action is part of the Housing Strike Force under the Department of Justice that encourages local action and accountability to house Californians.
Revised Redevelopment Plan for San Diego Waterfront Reaches $3.5 Billion
Developers recently submitted to the Port of San Diego a revised, $3.5 billion redevelopment plan that would transform the downtown waterfront, including Seaport Village and adjacent parks, into new hotels, restaurants, an art exhibition space, and a yacht club. The plan may also include a 500-foot tower for observation decks, an aquarium, and more areas for public recreation. Public perception is mixed, with some disapproving, noting their respect for the waterfront's landmark status and its relaxing atmosphere, and others enthusiastic about the new infrastructure. Developer Protea Waterfront says it wants small businesses to remain a critical feature of the new development. Mayor Todd Gloria, the city council, and the Regional Chamber of Commerce all support the plan. (See related CP&DR coverage.)
Grand Jury Evaluates Contrasting Approaches to Housing in Mountain View, Palo Alto
The City of Mountain View is making great progress toward its housing production goals, while Palo Alto is falling flat, according to a Civil Grand Jury report titled "Affordable Housing: A Tale of Two Cities." The grand jury found that effective planning, political will, and innovative financing are three characteristics key to Mountain View's success. Meanwhile, the grand jury found that the"Palo Alto Process," infamous for its lengthy approach, will be sure to prevent that city from meeting the state's goals. The grand jury also found that Mountain View, home to Google, has notably encouraged community involvement in affordable housing, but Palo Alto does not engage with its residents. Palo Alto essentially has not leaned into state affordable housing goals, while Mountain View has embraced the need for housing with specific, coordinated, timely plans that reflect its interest in building more housing.
City of Santa Monica Receives LEED Platinum Certification
The City of Santa Monica has achieved a Platinum certification under the LEED for Cities program, which celebrates local governments for their responsibility in green building related to energy, water, waste, transportation, education, health, safety, prosperity, and equity. Santa Monica became the first city to reach a Platinum certification with 80 points, achieving high levels in the Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions category by reducing emissions 60% below 1990 levels and powering 94% of properties with 100% renewable energy. Santa Monica also scored well in the Natural Systems and Ecology category for green space distribution, in Transportation and Land Use for transit access, in Quality of Life for education and community engagement, and in several other categories.
Paradise Devises Rebuilding Plan
Paradise town leaders have developed a plan for the town's rebuilding process following the devastating 2018 Camp Fire that left 85 people dead and 15,000 structures destroyed and reduced the population by nearly 20,000 residents. A global organization, Counselors of Real Estate, have collaborated with local leaders to draft a number of recommended rebuilding actions that are based on two main approaches: residential construction that would house all income levels and a prototype wildfire area insurance program. This program would work in tandem with the state Insurance Commissioner and would serve as greater protection from potential future wildfires. The report also proposes expanding community septic capacity and establishing a government sector whose duties would specifically be to assist financing and rebuilding.
CP&DR Legal Coverage: Courts Reject Projects in San Diego County, Nevada County
The long-running Fanita Ranch battle in Santee has reached a new crescendo, as a judge in San Diego has struck down the project’s environmental impact report – the latest in a series of decisions that focuses on wildfire evaluation routes as part of environmental analysis. In her tentative ruling, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal upheld the EIR on many grounds but struck down the EIR largely over the wildfire evaluation route analysis. Bacal is the same judge who found fault last year with the City of San Diego’s EIR on the proposed height increases in the Midway district.
Environmentalists have stopped the a controversial 760-home project in Martis Valley near Truckee in Nevada County – at least for the moment. The Third District Court of Appeal upheld most of the actions that Placer County took in conducting an environmental analysis and approving the project. However, the Third District found in favor of the environmentalists on a couple of key points in the environmental analysis – most specifically the question of whether the county had improperly deferred further analysis and mitigation on greenhouse gas emissions – and that was enough to sink the project.
Quick Hits & Updates
A state appellate court rejected an appeal from Pleasanton Citizens for Responsible Growth that questioned the validity of the city's environmental review for the proposed Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone with a Costco store and two hotels. The group, who believes that air quality and traffic burdens were not properly considered under CEQA, is led by a former city councilman.
The Desert Hot Springs Planning Commissions voted, 3-2, to approve the development permit for a three-million square-foot e-commerce warehouse proposed by real estate group Seefried Industrial Properties, Inc. It will be one of the largest single warehouses in the United States. The multi-story property is intended for a single, currently unidentified tenant.
A crowd of mostly UC Berkeley students voiced their support of banning cars along a four-block stretch of Telegraph Avenue during a march on the street. The students organized for ending fossil fuel dependency and enhancing pedestrian and bicycle safety.
A ban on cars along a 1.5-miles stretch of John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park that was introduced at the start of the pandemic may become permanent after San Francisco Mayor London Breed proposed legislation that will head to the Board of Supervisors for a vote.
A former San Francisco planning commissioner will settle his lawsuit against the city for $1.8 million. Commissioner Dennis Richards and real estate agent Rachel Swann accused the city of retaliating against Richards for criticizing the department for corruption.
A new study has found that fewer residents missed their rent payments and were less likely to be evicted in the months following the introduction of state policy that raises the minimum wage. The report also determined that an increase in minimum wage had a higher impact for tenants who pay lower monthly payments compared to high rents.
A Superior Court judge has ruled that the San Diego City Council acted improperly when it chose to approve Measure C, a ballot measure that would raise the hotel tax to fund a convention center expansion, homeless services, and road repairs. Though it came incredibly close, the measure did not technically receive a two-thirds majority vote.
San Francisco has begun its ferry service to Treasure Island, which is undergoing affordable housing development and is planned for more amenities. The new service will hold 48 passengers and operate 16 hours per day, seven days a week with $5 one-way tickets and monthly passes available.
Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian wants county officials to establish a plan to purchase the Lehigh Hanson property, which houses a quarry and cement plant in hills west of Cupertino that, over generations, have held freeways, dams, and buildings. Simitian hopes to foster an open space with limited housing and reduced pollution and noise.