State Continues to Lose Population; Housing Production Rises
A report from the Department of Finance finds that state population decline has continued but is slowing, with a 0.35% population decrease, roughly 138,400 persons, in 2022 compared to a 0.53% decrease between 2021 and 2022. Total births remain low and deaths are decreasing from pandemic highs, but still remain inflated. Among major cities, Los Angeles had the highest percentage and absolute population loss, at -1%, pushing the city's population down to 3.766 million. Despite the population loss, the report found that housing production increased .85% in 2022, the highest since the 2008 Great Recession. California added 123,350 housing units on net, including 20,683 accessory dwelling units, to bring total housing in the state to 14,707,698 units. New construction represents 116,683 housing units with 63,423 single family housing units, 51,787 multi-family housing units, and 1,473 mobile homes. The rates of construction grew in 2020 and 2021, but particularly in 2022 saw a giant increase. Central and Northern California counties saw the largest percentage increase in housing growth, with Placer County at around 4.1%. Bigger cities, conversely, gained the largest number of total units built. Los Angeles and San Diego built the most single-family homes in 2022. 54% of the new construction were single-family homes and 44% were multifamily units. 1% were mobile units. Experts say this increase is crucial in battling the ongoing housing crisis in the state, but would hope that more populous and job-rich counties would see increases in housing.

Los Angeles OKs Two Long-Awaited Community Plans
The Los Angeles City Council adopted two community plans for Hollywood and Downtown, respectively, that, if successful, would result in 135,000 new housing units over the next 20 years. The DTLA 2040 Plan and Hollywood Community Plan both include safeguards for preventing displacement and strategies for affordable housing construction to remain affordable for the next 99 years. Developers in Hollywood can now build larger projects if there is a certain number of affordable units. Now falling under an "inclusionary housing system," newly constructed residential projects downtown are required to include a percentage minimum of affordable units, and can build larger projects as long as they include a larger number of affordable units. This does not apply to office or manufacturing buildings converted into housing. Residential development is now permitted in a part of skid row between 5th, 7th, San Pedro and Central Avenue as long as they consist of 80% affordable units. Residential and hotel development is now restricted in parts of the Fashion District, on downtown's southern edge. (See related CPD&R coverage.)

Pittsburgh City Council Approves Controversial Project and Annexation
After 20 years of discussion and controversy, the Pittsburg City Council approved the Faria/Southwest Hills Annexation Project, a 1,500-home project in the hills above the city, green lighting the master plan and development agreement for the Seeno development company. The vote overrules a Planning Commission recommendation against the project. The project includes an additional recreation center and designated open space; development will cover 341 of the property's 606 acres. A previous version of the project's environmental impact report had been successfully challenged in court on the grounds that it would disturb the local ecosystem. There were also concerns from the neighboring city of Concord about visual impacts. The plan was set in motion by a 2005 ballot measure, Measure P, which enabled the city to annex the land, followed by 2006 agreement to establish a greenbelt between the property and the rest of the city. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

University of California to Develop 22,000 Beds across Nine Campuses
In a response to a student housing shortage, the University of California board of regents voted to approve plans for residential projects across UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego, UCLA, UC Irvine and UC Riverside, adding almost 8,000 additional beds. The board of regents hopes to push towards its fall 2028 goal of a further 22,000 beds across all nine campuses. A top UC official stated the plans face many obstacles, including the threat of lawsuits particularly dealing with the California Environmental Quality Act and unreliable state funding. Most recently, a judge ruled in favor of neighborhood opponents citing CEQA violations of a UC Berkeley housing development at People's Park. The project hopes to find funding via the state's Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program, but may only receive funds up to $50 million as opposed to the entire $500 million application.

CP&DR Legal Coverage: Major Ruling on Subdivision Map Act 
A property owner in Oakland won a court victory declaring that a parcel first depicted on a map in the 1850s is a legal parcel – even though the city claimed it had been merged with other parcels as the result of several conveyances of the property through a single deed. It’s the first major “antiquated subdivision” ruling in almost 20 years. The case involves the property owner’s attempt to establish that an 8,800-square-foot single-family lot in the San Antonio neighborhood of Oakland – which currently has a single-family home first built in 1895 – is actually several lots because the original parcel map was filed prior to the Subdivision Map Act’s passage and the lots existed prior to later Map Act amendments. As land values in California have skyrocketed over the last 30 years, owners of “antiquated” lots have increasingly sought to have their pre-Subdivision Map Act parcels deemed legal and therefore developable.

Quick Hits & Updates

Berkeley and state attorneys filed supporting briefs for UC Berkeley's fight to build student housing at People's Park. UC Berkeley recently appealed the original decision by San Francisco state appeals course in favor of Supporters of People's Park, bringing the case to the state Supreme Court.

The Public Policy Institute of California in a recent study of the increasing number of Californians leaving the state found most residents move to nearby states, with higher earners moving to states with lower income taxes.

An Earth Day study by the Public Policy Institute of California reports 74% of all adults in the state believe it is necessary to take immediate action to combat the impacts of climate change, with white demographics least likely to hold the view at 66%. The partisan divide increased dramatically between 2003 and 2023 with a little more than 30% of Republicans in the state supporting immediate action.

Santa Rosa City Council voted unanimously to create an Enhance Infrastructure Financing District using a percentage of property taxes to support infrastructure and general improvement projects in the hopes of revitalizing its downtown. The city hopes to team with Sonoma County on the proposal.

Santa Rosa City Council voted unanimously to create a financing district using a percentage of property taxes to support infrastructure and general improvement projects in the hopes of revitalizing its downtown. The city hopes to team with Sonoma County on the proposal.

The Supreme Court allowed a number of California county and city cases against oil companies to continue, rejecting five additional appeals by oil companies in five other states. The original cases filed by local governments in the state seek damages from over 30 companies profiting off oil.

The California Natural Resources Agency will be accepting proposals for the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program from May 1, 2023 through June 30, 2023, via the System for Online Application Review. Final grant guidelines are available here.