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CP&DR News Briefs November 23, 2021: San Diego Parking; Federal Infrastructure Funds; Bay Area Open Space; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Nov 23, 2021

San Diego Eliminates Many Commercial Parking Requirements
In an effort to make San Diego less car-centric and more climate-friendly, the city council voted unanimously to eliminate parking requirements for businesses in neighborhoods located near ample transit or in small plazas near dense residential areas. Under the policy, new businesses will not have to account for parking for customers or staff, and existing businesses may use their parking spaces for other purposes, such as outdoor dining or additional retail space. The move finds support from both businesses and environmentalists, who hope that less reliance on cars will help San Diego meet its climate action plan goals. Opponents are concerned that San Diego's transit system is too inadequate, which will just burden people who are forced to rely on cars as well as seniors and disabled people who can't easily take transit or walk places.

Federal Infrastructure Act to Bring Billions to California; Transit Funding in Limbo
Among the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act bill package passed by Congressed and signed by President Biden, California stands to receive roughly $45 billion in funding over five years, including the following: $25.3 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $4.2 billion for bridge replacement and repairs; $9.45 billion to improve public transportation; $384 million to support the expansion of an EV charging network; a minimum of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state; $84 million to protect against wildfires; $3.5 billion to improve water infrastructure across the state and ensure clean, safe drinking water for California communities; and $1.5 billion for infrastructure development for airports over five years. The federal government declared that California is ineligible for $12 billion in public transit funding due to changes in state law changes that reduced pensions for employees. Federal law requires state and local agencies to protect employee interests to be eligible for federal public transit grants. The Biden administration disagrees with the changes because they were implemented by law and not determined by public employee unions. This means that the state would be ineligible for the infrastructure bill's $9.5 billion intended for public transit agencies. Critics note that, while California will receive the most funding overall, its per capital share of $1200 is relatively small compared to other states.

Hoped-For Bay Area Parkland Purchased by Private Buyer
Dashing hopes of conservationists, Danville entrepreneur Bill Brown recently purchased a 50,500-acre property in the East Bay, making it the largest private land listing in California. The property had been eyed to become a future state park. A cattle ranching family from Southern California listed the property, N3 Ranch, that they had owned for 85 years but hadn't used frequently. The property, which was listed for $68 million, stretches across four counties, Santa Clara, Alameda, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus, and features canyons, trout streams, meadows, and oak woodlands. N3 Ranch also includes the 4,089-foot Eylar Mountain and part of Mission Peak and is home to mountain lions, bobcats, foxes and a herd of elk. Brown, founder of Walnut Creek wholesaler Central Garden and Pet Co, identified his commitment to "preserving ranch lands in California."

Historic Segregation Persists in Bay Area
Segregation in the Bay Area remains high, particularly in neighborhoods populated by people of color as a result of discriminatory policy and in mid-sized to smaller suburbs with a predominantly white population, according to a report released by UC Berkeley's Othering and Belonging Institute. Researchers found that six of the ten most segregated Black neighborhoods and five of the ten most segregated Latinx neighborhoods are in Oakland, while Marin County, the most segregated county in the Bay Area, includes eight of the ten most segregated white neighborhoods. Segregation in large, diverse cities is more neighborhood-specific, while largely white suburbs are more segregated in the context of the entire Bay Area. Neighborhoods with minimal historical and existing exclusionary practices are the most integrated.

CP&DR Coverage: Fulton on San Diego's Blue Line Extension
Last weekend, San Diego’s Blue Line Extension opened, connecting Downtown San Diego to UC San Diego, 12 miles to the north, for the first time. Despite the amount of rail transit construction in both the Bay Area and L.A., perhaps no rail project in California holds as much potential to reshape a major city. But whether the Blue Line actually will reshape San Diego remains to be seen. The uncertainty arises from a variety of factors, including the uncertain role that downtown San Diego will play in the region’s economy in the future; the fact that the stations themselves are build hard alongside Interstate 5, diminishing the potential for transit-oriented development; and sheer NIMBYism along the line, especially in Clairemont, a traditionally suburban neighborhood that is now in the path of growth.

Quick Hits & Updates

The Strategic Growth Council (SGC) released its 2020-2021 Annual Report that details its approach to partnering and serving California communities. The report analyzes the SGC's accomplishments over the past year, including funding for Indigenous tribes for clean energy projects, the Transformative Climate Communities framework, and the BOOST Pilot Program.

Oakland City Council approved an exclusive deal to negotiate with the African American Sports and Entertainment Group, who wants to redevelop the Coliseum site into a cultural hub with affordable housing, Black-owned sports teams, a Black business district, and some form of an academic center. The group will have 18 months to find an agreement to buy or lease the city's share of the 100-acre site.

Clovis City Council rejected a proposal for a 40-unit development near Old Town Clovis due to residents' concerns regarding traffic congestion, excess parking, and the "monolithic" height proposed for the project. Council members denied amendments to the city's general plan and rezoning that would have allowed for the three-story multifamily apartment complex to be built on land zoned for medium density residential single-family homes.

Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin is calling for the city's sidewalk repair program to be improved, urging that city workers are finding difficulty making repairs required due to major legal settlements. Galperin asked the Department of Public Works to change its approach to fixing city sidewalks by working on smaller segments of broken sidewalk at a time in order to reduce costs and time spent working.

The Transformative Climate Communities Program's (TCC) Draft Round 4 Program Guidelines and updated TCC Mapping Tool is available for public comment until December 15. The Round 4 Program Guidelines will expand eligibility to under-resourced unincorporated communities, California Indigenous tribes, and the top 25% of disadvantaged communities according to CalEnviroScreen.

In order to ease its housing crisis, Truckee Town Council voted unanimously to extend its moratorium on new short-term rentals, which will impact housing availability during the Tahoe winter ski season. During the pandemic, many long-time residents and employees were forced to leave their homes due to an increase in wealthy residents in the area. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

A Santa Clara County judge denied a petition to preserve San Jose's decades-old CityView Plaza, which will allow for the demolition of an old bank and the construction of a massive office campus that would bring 14,000 jobs. In its petition, the Preservation Action Council of San Jose argued that San Jose City Council's environmental review was flawed and that the new development would not be able to incorporate the "brutalist" architectural style of the original 1973 Bank of California building.

Los Angeles is taking an aggressive approach to building affordable housing: by committing to constructing 250,000 housing units over the next eight years. In its "Plan to House LA," the city includes options for how to build the nearly 500,000 units it must meet according to the state Housing Element but believes that only about half of that are likely to be built. Los Angeles, according to LA City Planning Assistant Betty Barberena, is both the most rent-burdened and overcrowded major city, has the fewest units per adult of any domestic region, and features housing costs that surpass income growth.

LA Metro is hoping to build new rail and bus rapid transit lines throughout the county using revenue collected through a sales tax approved by voters in 2008 and 2016. Their effort is intended to confront the affordable housing crisis by constructing 10,000 units over the next ten years.

The San Diego Association of Governments is proposing to make public transportation free while charging a per-mile fee to drivers as soon as 2030. The $160 billion idea includes sectioning off highway lanes for buses and carpools and expanding a high-speed transit system.

Brightline West will add an extension along the Cajon Pass to Rancho Cucamonga to its proposal for a high-speed train route from Victorville to Las Vegas. The new station connects with an existing service between San Bernardino and Los Angeles and would extend along 48 miles within the 15 Freeway.

Opponents of a high-speed rail project across California are urging a state appeals court to squash the project by denying billions in bond funds for construction, which has already begun in Fresno County and the central Joaquin Valley. The court will decide if a piece of 2016 legislation contradicts Proposition 1A, which approved a $9.9 billion bond for the project.

Los Angeles City Council voted 12-2 to approve a ban on sitting, sleeping, and lying at 54 locations in 3 districts. While officials who voted yes asked for expanded outreach resources near these locations, other council members and advocates for the city's unhoused population are concerned that there are not yet enough resources to help people before ban is introduced.