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CP&DR News Briefs September 20, 2022: San Diego Sports Arena; UCSB Housing; S.F. Ballot Measures; and More

Mckenzie Locke on
Sep 20, 2022
San Diego Chooses Developer for 4,000-Unit Redevelopment of Sports Arena
After San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria chose which developer he wanted to handle the city's Sports Arena 48-acre site redevelopment, the city council approved his selection, allowing the project to move forward. The winning team is Midway Rising, led by San Diego-based Zephyr Partners. The plan includes bringing over 4,000 housing units, 20 acres of open space, and a new arena to the Midway district. The decision remains riddled with controversy since the development team, which outcompeted two other groups, submitted a donation to a committee in support of Gloria's mayoral election two years ago. There are also multiple lawsuits and allegations about wage theft surrounding the developer. In its confirmation, the city council included a requirement that an independent budget analysis be a part of negotiations between city staff and the developer. A previous development deal was scuttled a year ago over concerns that it violated the Surplus Lands Act. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Santa Barbara County to Sue University over Shortage of Housing
Santa Barbara supervisors will sue UC Santa Barbara over its housing shortages that have impacted students, faculty, and staff. County officials maintain that, as the university continues to increase its class sizes, it has failed to address its existing housing limitations and violated the 2010 UCSB Long Range Development Plan Mitigation Implementation and Settlement Agreement. While the university has proposed new housing, a lack of timeline and action provoked legal action. This lawsuit follows one filed eight months ago by city officials in Goleta against the university for the same reasoning. Housing shortages have forced UCSB to place students in Goleta hotels, and some students have slept in their cars when they couldn't find housing. The move is yet another example of recent tensions between University of California campuses and their surrounding communities over development of housing. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Two Housing-Related Measures to Appear on San Francisco Ballot
San Francisco voters will consider two competing housing measures on the November ballot after a judge ruled against a nonprofit's attempt to keep one initiative off the ballot. The Housing Action Coalition, which, alongside Mayor London Breed, supports Proposition D, submitted a lawsuit to prevent voters from considering Proposition E, submitted by the city's Board of Supervisors. While both options encourage affordable housing development, Prop. D fast-tracks the approval process for developers and does not require Board of Supervisor approval for 100% affordable housing projects on public land. Prop. D supporters say that Prop. E will just complicate the process, leading to less housing, while opponents say that Prop. D serves developer interests and may not ensure true affordability.

Developer Leads Ballot Initiative for San Bernardino County to Secede from California
Following a suggestion from San Bernardino County developer Jeff Burum that the county should secede from California due an unfair allocation of resources and mandates, local voters will voice their opinion on the matter. The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an initiative that places the option to request that officials study funding and the potential of secession on the ballot. While more vocal advocates of secession have floated around "Empire" as the name for the new state, some board members have clarified that they do not support secession but rather want to understand whether or not San Bernardino receives a just amount of funding considering a portion of inland residents believe that coastal cities collect more than their fair share.

Several Counties Announce Transportation-Related Ballot Initiatives
Voters throughout the state will have an opportunity to give their opinion on tax initiatives on the November ballot that would raise funding for many road- and highway-centric projects. In Fresno County, voters may again face Measure C as they choose whether or not to renew a half-cent transportation tax. Estimated to raise $6.8 billion, the tax would not fund public transit or bike route improvements as much as it would promote road and highway construction. Madera County voters could face a similar decision as they determine the fate of Measure T, another half-cent transportation tax that would be renewed to largely fund road construction. Lastly, Tuolumne County residents will choose if they want to incur a 1% sales tax increase that would fund fire, police, and road services.


CP&DR Coverage: Legislature Embraces New Approaches to Housing Production
After several years of feverish work to promote housing, the legislature was expected to make relatively modest moves this year. Instead, several major bills now sit on the governor's desk. They include major reductions in parking requirements statewide and regulations to ease conversion of commercial properties to residential and mixed use. Why? First, housing advocates (primarily Democrats) advanced several major bills, including some strategies untried in previous years. Second, those bills essentially sailed through the legislature, with few no votes and little discernible rancor -- at least between the usual pro- and anti-development factions.
Quick Hits & Updates 

Caltrans released its first quarterly update on the implementation of its Complete Streets Action Plan. According to the tracker, 23.5% of initiatives are complete, 64.7% are in progress, and 11.8% have not yet been started. Caltrans shared updates to its separated bikeways design guidance and the implementation of complete streets in maintenance projects as some of its successes.

A recent study from UC Berkeley reveals that the Bay Area's largest cities and downtown areas continue to face economic and social hardships brought on by the pandemic. The researchers suggest that cities may need to reimagine their plans for downtown to accommodate new norms.

A new study from the Gender Equity Policy Institute reports that women, especially Black, Latina, and Indigenous women, are more often rent burdened than men. The institute's policy recommendations include targeted assistance for single parent, low-income, and elderly households; increased affordable housing construction, and incorporating a gender lens in policymaking.

The Department of Housing and Community Development has issued its approval of Redondo Beach's 2021-2029 General Plan Housing Element. In its third try, city officials have chosen to concentrate most of the required 2,490 housing units in North Redondo.

The Biden administration announced the winners of a $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, including the Central Valley Community Foundation. The organization's Fresno-Merced Future of Food project will receive $65.1 million to improve agricultural technology and skills.

The American River watershed is likely to see extreme annual depletion due to climate change unless officials improve conservation and water-storage projects, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The basin, which supplies much of Sacramento's water, could see annual shortfalls of 78,000 acre-feet, which would require an increase in groundwater pumping by 155,000 acre-feet.

An undisclosed buyer has purchased the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall for $537.5 million, the most expensive mall sale in the United States since 2018. The owner of Westfield malls plans to sell all United States malls by 2023.

Following a 3-2 vote by the Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles County plans to lift the eviction moratorium instated to lessen the destructive economic impacts of the pandemic. Officials claim they will ensure that tenants and landlords have access to resources as they phase out renter protections.

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