Auditor Calls for Better Use of State Properties for Housing
A new report from the state Auditor's Office argues that the state must make better use of available property to build more housing. The report acts in response to Executive Order N-06-19, which encourages the use of excess and surplus state-owned land for affordable housing. The office considered the Departments of General Services (DGS), Housing and Community Development, Transportation, and Developmental Services to analyze the state's use of surplus properties. Researchers determined that, while the executive order has been impactful, departments could streamline their processes and go further to build over 32,000 housing units. While the DGS's 73 remaining properties may take seven years to develop, adding one staff member could reduce the timeline by two years. The office also recommends implementing benefits to the executive order.
Census Data Suggest Population Declines in Center Cities
Los Angeles and San Francisco saw major population declines in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new census data. Nearly 160,000 residents left Los Angeles County, though the county's large population meant a 1% per capita loss, while San Francisco lost 54,000 residents and saw a 6.7% per capita loss. Between July 2020 and July 2021, 262,000 residents, driven by domestic migration, left California, pursuing factors such as affordable housing, jobs, and family. The data suggests that residents are acting on an extreme housing crisis in addition to more remote working options and decreasing birth rates. With more affordable costs of living, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, meanwhile, saw population growth. (See related CP&DR analysis.)
Report: Assessing Vulnerability of Low-Income Residents in Bay Area
A report from UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation, On the Edge of Homelessness: The Vulnerability of Extremely Low-Income (ELI) Households in the Bay Area, analyzes the demographic, housing, and labor market qualities of the area's ELI households and considers the structural inequalities that must be confronted at the local, state, and federal level to stabilize housing security. According to lead author Carolina Reid, who worked in partnership with All Home, an inadequate social safety net, affordable housing shortages, and increasing income inequality are all factors that make ELI households particularly at-risk to becoming unhoused. The researchers hope that providing and analyzing data that illuminates the factors leading to this vulnerability will help encourage thoughtful decision-making for officials working to end homelessness.
CP&DR Analysis: Legislature Keeps Poking Holes in CEQA
In recent years, the legislature has weakened CEQA by a growing number of one-off exemptions and end-runs. And there’s no reason to believe that this trend is going to change any time soon. The new state law adopted last week specifically removes CEQA analysis of enrollment expansion from the long-range development plan process – the UC and Cal State equivalent of the general plan. So, presumably, the impact of enrollment increases can’t – or at least don’t have to – be analyzed in an LRDP environmental impact report. But what happens when an individual project designed to accommodate expanded student enrollment comes along? Is that subject to CEQA?
Quick Hits & Updates
The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) in partnership with the Office of Planning and Research (OPR), Strategic Growth Council (SGC), and California Air Resources Board (CARB), request public input on: Draft Regional Early Action Planning Grants of 2021 (REAP 2.0) Guidelines for metropolitan planning organization applicants and Draft REAP 2.0 Guidelines for tribal and rural applicants.
Placer County Supervisors approved an ordinance that would set a 3,900 limit on the number of short-term rentals in areas like North Lake Tahoe and Truckee. The ordinance, if officially approved in February, would allow about one-quarter of homes to be listed as short-term rentals in order to preserve housing for the local population and enforce more inspections and fire protections.
The Coastal Commission rejected development permits for two homes along the Cambria coast based off of a report that suggests that the small community lacks adequate potable water sources for the new developments. The property owners' attorney argues that they already have water connections installed, so the state should permit construction.