Oakland to Sell its Share of Coliseum Site to Developers
The City of Oakland has reached a tentative deal to sell its share of the Coliseum site to the African American Sports & Entertainment Group for at least $105 million. The sale marks the end of an era following the departures of the Warriors, Raiders and Athletics from the Oakland Coliseum and Oakland Arena. Plans for redevelopment include retail, hotels, housing and potential attractions for sports teams. A complication is that, even though the A's are leaving the site for Las Vegas, they are in the process, pending a court decision, of purchasing the other 50% of the site from Alameda County; that transaction has been underway since 2019. The team previously rejected an offer from AASEG for $115 million. Oakland's sale of its Coliseum share aims to revitalize the underutilized site, potentially accommodating various developments to rejuvenate the area and attract new businesses and activities. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

San Mateo Faces Lawsuit over Unrealistic Housing Element
Housing advocacy group the Housing Action Coalition is suing the City of San Mateo to force it to comply with housing element law. The suit claims the city has presented housing opportunities and developments required for the current eight-year RHNA cycle without any real intention of following through. The city plans to build 7,015 houses, with a quarter of those units priced affordably for low-income households, between January 2023-2031, but has made no effort to change its zoning code. The coalition cites several properties that currently have many long-term leases with restaurants, retailers, and residents that run past 2031. City representatives claim that high demand for housing will provide ample incentive to redevelop properties that are currently thriving.

State Seeks to Reduce Carbon Emissions through Land Conservation
California is establishing 81 targets to utilize millions of acres of land in combating the climate crisis, marking a significant step for the state's environmental efforts. These targets, part of Governor Gavin Newsom's California Climate Commitment, aim to leverage nature-based solutions to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. The plan includes managing millions of acres for various purposes such as reducing wildfire risk, conserving forests and enhancing soil health. The decision to set these targets comes after an analysis revealed that California's lands currently emit more greenhouse gases than they absorb, largely due to historical land use practices and the impacts of climate change. By implementing these targets, Newsom hopes to mitigate carbon emissions and move towards a more sustainable future.

Nation's 20 Least-Affordable Cities all in California
An analysis of California's housing affordability crisis illustrates the state's struggle with soaring home prices. California dominates the list of the nation's most unaffordable cities, with 20 out of the 20 least-affordable. These cities exhibit cost ratios far exceeding the national average, with home prices significantly outpacing household incomes. The pressure points are evident in California's major urban centers, where the cost of living is exorbitant compared to national standards. Newport Beach leads the pack with a cost ratio of 25.4 times the median income, followed closely by Palo Alto and Glendale. Even comparatively "affordable" cities in California still present significant challenges for prospective homebuyers. Visalia, the state's most affordable city on the list, still boasts a cost ratio of 4.6 times the median income. The report underscores the disproportionate growth of home prices relative to household incomes since 2000, underscoring the urgent need for solutions to address housing affordability statewide.

CP&DR Coverage: Builder's Remedy, We Hardly Knew Ye
The Department of Housing & Community Development has signed off on Beverly Hills’ housing element, possibly ending one of the most contentious housing element disputes in the state. HCD has also signed off on the housing element for the Town of Los Gatos but is still negotiating with Claremont over its housing element, meaning – as in Beverly Hills – builder’s remedy projects could hang in the balance. Although many builder’s remedy projects may yet be built, the whole builder’s remedy issue may turn out to be a temporary window that allowed some projects to slip through while housing elements were pending in various cities. It seems likely that the window on builder’s remedy applications is closing in many cities as HCD signs off on more housing elements.

Quick Hits & Updates

Despite initial reluctance and criticism from commissioners, Half Moon Bay's planning commission eventually approved a 40-unit senior farmworker housing project after a five-hour deliberation, paving the way for the development to move forward. The project, aimed at addressing the urgent need for housing among farmworkers, faced scrutiny over its design, programming and scale, with commissioners suggesting various modifications before granting approval.

The developer of a proposed 50-story skyscraper in San Francisco’s Ocean Beach neighborhood has withdrawn their application, making way for a new project by non-profit Housing America Partners, which will build a 100% affordable housing eight-story residential building. This project aligns itself with the city's upzoning of commercial corridors on the west side, a part of San Francisco's state-mandated housing element process to plan for 82,000 new units by 2031.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority's board approved new recommendations for the Los Angeles to Anaheim rail segment, allowing for a crucial and final environmental review for phase one. The revised plan proposes four mainline tracks used by the bullet train, other passenger rail, and BNSF freight trains while removing a freight facility in Colton due to community pushback. 

The San Diego City Council adopted a land use plan known as De Anza Natural, aiming to restore 143 acres of tidal wetlands in Mission Bay Park, addressing water quality and sea level rise while enhancing habitat for endangered species. Despite debates over recreational activities, the plan represents a compromise among various stakeholders, with final approval pending from the California Coastal Commission and other oversight agencies.

According to analysis out of UC Berkeley’s Terner Center, California's housing affordability crisis has disproportionately affected middle-income renters, with a significant increase in cost-burdened households between 2010 and 2019. While targeted efforts have been made to address this issue, such as incentivizing middle-income housing development, the current policies may not be sufficient to meet the demand.

Caltrans unveiled 10-Point Plan to Beautify Bakersfield, aimed at enhancing street safety, improving public spaces and supporting existing state programs. The plan includes measures such as increased litter collection, clearing roadway encampments and updating aging equipment to ensure the cleanliness and attractiveness of the area.

After nearly four years of discussions and negotiations, the Sacramento Zoo will relocate from the Land Park neighborhood to the City of Elk Grove, increasing its acreage sevenfold subsequently allowing for larger and more animal exhibits. The city council's decision, valued at $302 million and passed by a 4-1 vote, has the potential to create 2,000 jobs and yield $249 million in benefits over the next five years.

Erewhon, the upscale supermarket chain, has filed an environmental lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles to halt the demolition of the Sportsmen’s Lodge hotel in Studio City for a new apartment complex. Despite previous opposition efforts, including appeals rejected by the City Council, Erewhon's parent company claims the city violated environmental laws by not conducting a thorough Environmental Impact Report. The planned development, aimed at bringing housing to Studio City, has faced criticism from opponents concerned about the loss of the historic hotel and potential environmental impacts.

Billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Kholsa was dealt another setback in his effort to block public access to his coastal property near Half Moon Bay. A California judge tentatively denied his request to dismiss a lawsuit against the Coastal Commission. The commission's claim of public access rights to the beach has been deemed sufficiently supported by the court, moving the case forward despite Khosla's long-standing contention over property ownership rights.

A proposed $20 billion housing bond slated for the November ballot in the Bay Area could pave the way for the creation of nearly 41,000 affordable housing units across the region, according to a report from Enterprise Community Partners and the Bay Area Housing Financing Authority. With projects awaiting funding, the bond aims to address the pressing need for affordable housing, leveraging every dollar with additional state and federal funds to potentially create or preserve 72,000 homes.

The City of Elk Grove is partnering with a real estate company for Project Elevate, a $170 million mixed-use development spanning 20 acres near Elk Grove Boulevard. The project aims to create an urban oasis featuring a hotel, office space, retail stores, urban apartments and a village park, with 15% of the apartments designated for affordable housing. CenterCal Properties plans to build vertically, with the possibility of expanding the site in the future, aiming to bring Elk Grove a unique and vibrant urban district by early 2026.

A recent study by the San Diego Housing Federation and California Housing Partnership reveals that San Diegans need an hourly wage of nearly $48 to afford the average rent of $2,479 in the county. With a shortfall of 134,500 affordable homes for lower-income renters, the study underscores the urgent need for increased investment in affordable housing, particularly for vulnerable groups like seniors facing the risk of homelessness.