Long Beach's Garcia Introduces Parking Bill in Congress
Congressman and former Long Beach Mayor Rob Garcia announced a new federal bill proposing banning minimum requirements for parking near public transportation hubs. The former Long Beach mayor hopes to alleviate the financial impacts of parking requirements on housing, while also promoting public transit, walkability in cities and housing density. Presently, parking minimums require developers to provide off-street parking with every project. Pro-housing and public transit advocates have historically pushed back against parking minimums, maintaining they increase dependence on cars, increase carbon emissions, decrease community walkability, occupy valuable real estate and increase housing costs. Furthermore, they argue parking requirements around transit hubs create large issues the same communities who primarily rely on public transit, and not cars. Rep. Garcia's proposed bill would follow in the footsteps of Governor Newsom's recent bill banning parking requirements for developments approximate to transit hubs in California.

HCD Updates Lists of Jurisdictions Running Afoul of SB 330
The California Department of Housing and Community Development released updated lists of affected cities and counties on its statutory determinations webpage based on data obtained from the 2020 census. HCD lists over 450 cities and roughly 150 communities in unincorporated county areas. The lists are pursuant to SB 330, which made changes to land use and zoning law to remove barriers and impediments to building new housing in urban areas of the state, specifically in areas in which underproduction is most prevalent, known as "affected cities" and "affected counties". SB 330 prohibits these jurisdictions from taking certain zoning related actions, including, among other things, downzoning certain parcels, imposing a moratorium, or imposing design review standards that are not objective. It also requires jurisdiction-wide housing replacement when housing affordable to lower-income residents is demolished.

Lawsuit Seeks to Prevent Upzoning in Marin County
Unlike many lawsuits attempting to compel California cities to add housing, a local resident sued Marin County alleging the changes to countywide housing plans made to comply with state housing mandates actually violates state laws. The lawsuit argues the changes to the countywide plan impact 24 individual community housing plans in Marin County. The county's update to the original housing plan seeks to follow the state housing mandate of 3,569 additional units in the area by 2030, a 1,700% increase from the county's 2015-2022 mandate of 185 units. The mandate also requires new steps in the county's housing element to address racial integration in the area. The lawsuit against the county alleges the county's housing plan is now inconsistent with the new amendments, and furthermore seeks to override local jurisdiction on community housing plans on the strict sizes of new developments. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

California High Speed Rail Proceeds with Station Designs
Los Angeles-based design studio Kilograph is working with two London-based architecture firms, Foster+Partners and ARUP, on preliminary design plans for California High Speed Rail Authority stations in Fresno, Merced, Hanford and Bakersfield. Both London-based firms were jointly awarded a $35.3 million contract for the initial site plans and design, with the design studio coming on to conduct visual representations of the station designs. The designs indicates the largest station would be built in Fresno at a former Greyhound bus station. All four stops are the first along the first operational portion of a future bullet-train system. The line is now under construction in the central San Joaquin Valley, with new renderings released by the design studio of open-air rail platforms, retail and restaurant offerings for passengers. If construction and design continues according to the project's plans, the train would be operable between 2030 and 2033.

CP&DR Coverage: Voter-Approved Transfer Tax May Chill Development in L.A.
Approved by Los Angeles voters in November, and implemented April 1, Measure ULA imposes a 4% transfer tax on property transactions of $5 million-$9.9 million, and a 5% tax on transactions of $10 million and above, and dedicates the funds to the development of affordable housing. The emotional appeal of Measure ULA centered on this sort of decision calculus. Supporters of Measure ULA, which include nonprofit housing developers, social justice advocates, and trade unions, promoted it as a "mansion tax." That's a solid way to get 512,000 votes, for a 57%-43% win, in a city with 16% poverty rate and a rent-burden rate of 35%. But ULA taxes much more than mansions: it taxes any real estate transaction of $5 million and higher. Kneecapping the development industry may be fine if (like L.A.'s mayor) you're sick of all the "luxury" residential buildings that have gone up lately. But, if "luxury" buildings are the only projects that pencil out now, then what of working class, "missing middle" housing? That's exactly the type of housing Los Angeles needs.

Quick Hits & Updates

The California Department of Housing and Community Development unilaterally rejected the Town of Belvedere's 2023-2031 housing element, adopted by the city illegally before the state's review. The state probed the legality of the city's avoidance of rezoning and the delay of a local redevelopment project. Multiple housing watchdogs called the element insufficient.

In the wake of two failed agreements with developers, the Concord City Council will consider qualifications from potential developers for the 5,046-acre former Naval Weapons Station abandoned in 1999. The redevelopment concept includes 13,000 housing units, commercial space and a 2,450-acre East Bay Regional Park. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Senator Scott Wiener abandoned substantial plans for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) reform, citing political difficulties. The reform would have included limiting CEQA's overreach of projects involving the effect of population growth – like noise, traffic and new infrastructure – as well as new housing projects in existing neighborhoods.

Voters in Sierra Madre last week approved a zoning map amendment as well as a plan and development agreement for the contentious 17-acre, 42-unit housing development, green-lighting the Meadow at Bailey Canyons Project despite some residents' concerns about environmental impacts. The project has been stalled for years after the developer included a 3-acre public park and payments for public safety and water supply impacts into the plan.

Petaluma City Council approved an agreement between the city and the Sonoma-Marin Area Railroad Transit (SMART) District to start construction on a commuter train in east Petaluma, marking it the second SMART station in the city. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

The city of San Diego listed almost eight acres of its city hall complex under California's Surplus Land Act to sell excess municipal agency-owned land prioritizing low-income housing projects. Affordable housing developers can respond to the listing with redevelopment plans including at least 25 percent of units dedicated low-income.

Federal wildlife officials are considering granting the bi-state sage grouse threatened status under the Endangered Species Act, potentially restricting development in the bird's habitat in the high desert of California and Nevada. The bi-state sage grouse has been considered for threatened status three times since 2013, with proponents citing political gamesmanship preventing regulations.

A study out of UC Berkeley found 129 hazardous industrial sites along the coastline face risks of flood and subsequent hazardous materials water contamination due to rising sea levels. Oil refineries, sewage treatment centers and nuclear and fossil fuel power plans could see flooding by 2050, with 423 sites flooded by 2100.