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CP&DR News Briefs May 18, 2021: Homelessness Funding; $3.1 Billion for Climate; Milbrae Gets Sued; and More

Robin Glover on
May 18, 2021

Newsom Seeks $12 Billion for Affordable Housing, Homelessness
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a $12-billion proposal to create affordable housing, increase mental health services, and fund other programs to get people off the street. If approved by legislators as part of the state budget, the plan would purportedly house 65,000 people and stabilize housing for more than 300,000 at-risk people. It also would provide at least 28,000 new beds and housing placements for people with behavioral health issues and seniors facing a high risk of becoming homeless. Newsom's proposal includes $7 billion for property purchases through the state's Project Homekey program, $150 million to stabilize and rehouse Project Roomkey clients, $1.75 billion to build affordable homes and $447 million to address student homelessness in the California public college system.

State Puts $3.1 Billion into Climate in 2020, Including $1 Billion to Disadvantaged Communities
The Air Resources Board reports that 2020 was another record year for California Climate Investments with more than $3.1 billion invested in more than 51,000 projects across California’s 58 counties. Projects implemented in 2020 alone will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 18 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent over the course of their lifetimes. Of the $3.1 billion investment in 2020, $1 billion is benefiting disadvantaged and low-income communities and households — collectively referred to as priority populations. To date, California Climate Investments projects have helped plant more than 133,000 urban trees, reduced smog-forming and other air pollutants by more than 60,000 tons, added more than 7,200 new affordable housing units, and saved Californians almost $93 million through water energy‑efficiency projects.

Milbrae Faces Suit over Denial of Housing Complex 
A developer is suing Millbrae over the city’s refusal to process an application for a 384-unit apartment complex near San Francisco International Airport, the latest example of residential builders using the state’s tough pro-housing laws to force cities to approve projects. Anton Development is proposing to redevelop a 6.7-acre property that the city rezoned in 2020 from a mixed-use designation to a “planned development”-- a change that would cost Anton $18 million in fees. The zoning change and accompanying fees were implemented several years after Anton submitted its application for the housing complex. The state has weighed in on the side of the developer — warning that the case could be referred to the state attorney general if the project is not approved.

SPUR Considers One Million More Housing Units in Bay Area
To evaluate housing possibilities in the Bay Area, think tank SPUR compared two simulations, named “Business as Usual” and “New Civic Vision.” The Business as Usual scenario projects where housing would go under existing zoning policies, whereas the New Civic Vision proposes land use changes that would further environmental and equity goals. Under the Business as Usual scenario, housing would be underbuilt by 800,000 units. Instead, SPUR proposes adding housing within walking and biking distance of existing and future transit, with the highest-density housing closest to stations. SPUR projects the region can accommodate more than a million new units in transit-oriented locations. In addition, they propose adding modest density to neighborhoods that are predominantly made up of single-family homes, particularly those with great schools and amenities. SPUR estimates the region has capacity for more than a million new units in these infill suburban locations in forms such as accessory dwelling units, triplexes, fourplexes and low-density apartment buildings.

CP&DR Coverage: Fulton on the Geography of California’s Decline
According to the state Department of Finance, the state lost almost 200,000 people in 2020, the year that COVID caused home prices to rise dramatically and people to flee large cities. This is the first time in the modern history of California – some 170-plus years – that the population has gone down. But, as Bill Fulton writes, a close examination of the trends reveal that the population isn’t going down everywhere. It’s only going down in expensive coastal areas, where pretty much any house will now cost you at least $1 million. The population growth is continuing at more or less the same pace in inland areas, though even there it did dip a bit in 2020.

Quick Hits & Updates

California Forward released “Regions Build Together – A Housing Agenda for All California,” a regions-up housing agenda consisting of 14 practical actions that can relieve the state’s persistent housing crisis. The detailed chapters covering the nine regional housing markets include the Bay Area; Central Coast; Central Valley; Greater Los Angeles; Imperial and San Diego; Inland Empire; Northern California; Orange; and, Sacramento.

LA Metro officials are proposing to pare down Metro's fareless pilot to a version that applies to only certain riders, mainly student and low-income. Metro has discounted fare programs for low-income, student, and senior riders, but relatively cumbersome enrollment processes has kept enrollment in these programs fairly low. Though a fareless initiative has support on the Metro board, some boardmembers have expressed skepticism.

Decarbonizing transportation is essential to achieve the state's goals of carbon neutrality by 2045, but such a transition is unlikely to occur rapidly without key policy intervention, according to a new study that included research from the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation. A team of transportation and policy experts from the University of California released a report to the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) outlining policy options that, when combined, could lead to a zero-carbon transportation system by 2045.

A crew looking to assess a DDT dump site off of Los Angeles' coast were shocked by scale of the their findings: after two weeks surveying a swath of seafloor larger than the city of San Francisco, the scientists could find no end to the dumping ground. As many as half a million barrels could still be underwater, according to a recent UC Santa Barbara study.

San Diego’sformula for deciding which crumbling streets get repaired first is about to change significantly, with neighborhood equity and climate resiliency becoming the main factors. The main goal of the new policy, which is expected to be unveiled this summer, is reversing decades of underfunding for road repairs in many of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

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