Fresno Mayor Vetoes Plan to Loosen Construction Labor Rules
Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer vetoed an agreement passed by city council that would allow union workers and apprentices to build more construction projects in the city because he believes it excludes local workers. City council approved the agreement 6-1, and overriding the Dyer's veto will require five affirmative votes, which are likely to materialize. The original agreement formed between Fresno, Madera, Kings, and Tulare Building and Construction Trades Council regarding projects costing over $1 million. It gives priority to workers who are women, veterans, and from underserved communities and is intended to restore the city's middle class by encouraging apprentice programs and good-paying jobs with good benefits. The mayor said he would support the agreement if it concentrated on local businesses and hiring practices.
S.F. Supervisors Nix Micro-Unit Apartment Proposal
In a decision symbolic of longstanding debates over market-rate versus affordable housing in San Francisco, a 316 micro-unit group home development in Tenderloin will not move forward after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors rejected the plan. They argued that the micro-units would not help house families with children but cater to workers as a temporary residence. The project, led by Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist with builder Forge Development Partners, would have destroyed an existing building to give rise to the 13-story development that, in its proposal, included a church with a Christian Science reading room on the second floor. Some pro-housing advocates were in support of the proposal, but other local groups believe that the Tenderloin neighborhood does not have enough larger units with full kitchens and private bedrooms to house families, for which the project was previously intended until Forge took over.
Merced Adopts Housing Plan Amid Rising Prices in Central Valley
After a long discussion between city council members, staff, and local residents, Merced City Council established a broad plan to tackle the area's affordable housing crisis, though the final plans did not include more specific policies like inclusionary zoning and ways to enforce affordable housing construction advocated for by the public. Over recent years, Merced officials have argued for building more low-income and multi-family units, but only 21% of all city permits over the past decade have been for multi-family developments, and no affordable housing projects have been built since 2014. Their new proposal includes updates to the city's general plan and zoning code, becoming a "pro-housing" community, encouraging affordable-by-design standards, achieving quotas set in the RHNA, and streamlining building permit processes. (See related CP&DR coverage.)
Backlash Against Accessory Units Arises in San Diego
Some San Diego officials are considering rolling back recent policy changes that have made it much easier for property owners to construct additional dwelling units on their single-family lots due to increasing opposition from residents who believe it will destroy neighborhood character. Councilman Sean Elo-Rivera has suggested policies that will make ADUs more accessible to low-income tenants, prevent investors from capitalizing off of ADUs, amend parking restrictions, and ensure trees removed to build ADUs are replaced. Opponents, however, are still concerned that his proposals do not include removing density bonuses, which allow property owners to build more ADUs if they implement rent restrictions on one of them. Proponents of ADUs, meanwhile, believe that simplifying the construction process will help confront the housing crisis, and Elo-Rivera's approach is an overreaction.
CP&DR Legal Coverage: Reversal Confirms Huntington Beach's Violation of Housing Accountability Act
In a significant win for housing advocates, an Orange County judge has reversed her previous ruling, saying that Huntington Beach actually did violate the Housing Accountability Act in rejecting a 48-unit condominium building just off Beach Boulevard. The judge reversed herself after an appellate court ruling from the City of San Mateo – in a lawsuit brought by the same plaintiffs, the California Rental Legal Advocacy and Education Fund, or CaRLA – clarified what local governments must do to comply with the “objective standards” requirement in the law. (See related CP&DR coverage.)
Quick Hits & Updates
While San Jose's "urban village" strategy for redeveloping the city into many villages with tall buildings that incorporate housing, retail stores, and offices was intended to promote job and housing growth, only 13 out of 60 blueprints have been approved over the past decade, and residents frequently commute to other cities for work. Many suggest that the rules of creating urban villages, including pairing housing production with office spaces, is driving development to other parts of the city.
Enrollment at UC San Diego could increase by 10,000 over the next decade, through nearly 1,175 students are currently on a waiting list for on-campus housing, partly due to social-distancing guidelines. Over the past decade, enrollment increases to 40,000 have already caused crowding issues, and pushing enrollment to 50,000 could cause more housing problems outside of pandemic-era requirements.
San Diego City Council voted 8-1 to approve the 1,200-unit Trains at Carmel Mountain Ranch project designed by developer New Urban West to occupy the Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club's closed golf course. The developer held 30 community meetings and discussed the plan with over 500 nearby residents and will include 110 acres of open space and 15% low-income housing, though residents say New Urban West did not fairly adopt their requests.
Lake Tahoe's Squaw Valley ski resort will change its derogatory name to Palisades Tahoe starting immediately, though full adoption of the new name will likely be a years-long process. For a year, owners collaborated with the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California to replace the name it's used since 1949 with Palisades Tahoe.
US District Judge David O. Carter will, for now, not challenge a Los Angeles city law that bans people from parking recreational vehicles overnight in designated areas because city officials said they have not been enforcing it. Stephen Yagman, the attorney representing a woman who lives in an RV in Venice, is arguing that the city law violates the rights of unhoused people under the 8th and 14th amendments, and though the case is still open if the city decides to enforce its law, the city should remove its parking restriction signs if it isn't acting on them.