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CP&DR News Briefs March 29, 2022: State Properties for Housing; Urban Population Trends; Low-Income Residents in Bay Area; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Mar 29, 2022

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.

In response to countless conversations about the future of the Oakland A's waterfront ballpark, City Council Member Carroll Fife intends to introduce a ballot measure to allow Oakland residents to decide the development's fate. If added to the November ballot, the measure would delay the final decision and possibly put a stop to the project.

Sites Project Authority may apply for a $2.2 billion low-interest loan using the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act to help complete the long-anticipated Sites Reservoir project. If completed, the project would increase water supply and reduce water costs for cities and farms on the west side of the Sacramento Valley.

BART board member Lateefah Simon will remain in her seat that represents the East Bay and San Francisco after the staff tried to remove her, claiming that she moved outside of her district, even though Simon had confirmed with BART prior to moving that she would remain in her district. BART staff do not have legal authority to remove Simon from her seat and have received pushback for attempting to unseat BART's only Black board member.

Michigan's Hillsdale College purchased 1,028 undeveloped acres west of Roseville in unincorporated Placer County in two separate deals for a total of $5.8 million from AKT Development Corp. For over two decades, the land has been an expected spot for higher-education.

The demolition of a downtown Santa Monica parking structure is moving forward after a judge's ruling rejected a lawsuit that would have stopped the city from replacing a six-story garage with affordable housing. The decision was based on a CEQA technicality; the petitioners filed to request their hearing past the deadline.

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.

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