The State of California's 2000-01 budget and various pieces of legislation created several new programs and expanded some existing housing programs under the Department of Housing and Community Development.
They new programs include:
o Jobs-Housing Balance Improvement Program. $110 million. Covers three areas:
— Economic development grants to local agencies in "housing rich" areas to attract new businesses and jobs.
— Incentive grants to cities and counties that adopt HCD-approved housing elements by the end of 2001. Grants are based on a jurisdiction's increase in the issuance of residential building permits during 2001 compared to the average of the previous three years, and on approval of multi-family housing, transit-oriented development and infill projects. The money can fund capital projects such as roads, parks, schools, community centers, and police and fire stations.
— Urban predevelopment loans to local governments and nonprofit corporations for financing initial costs of constructing, converting, preserving or rehabilitating housing developments near transit stations.
o Inter-Regional Partnership (IRP) grants. $5 million. A pilot program that provides funding for certain cities, counties and councils of government in the East Bay and Central Valley to development plans, policies and incentives to improve the jobs-housing balance in a five-county region. (Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.) The money is available only for two or more agencies working together, or for a county working with the state.
o CalHOME Program. $50 million. Provides grants to local public agencies and nonprofit corporations for first-time homebuyer downpayment assistance, property acquisition and rehabilitation, and self-help mortgage assistance. Loans can also serve as permanent financing for mutual housing and cooperative developments.
o Downtown Rebound Program. $25 million. Provides low-cost loans to local public entities, for-profit and nonprofit corporations, and housing cooperatives. The money is available for conversion of vacant or underused commercial and industrial space into housing, with 20% to 40% of units reserved as affordable. Money is also available for residential infill projects, high-density housing near transit stations and other forms of downtown housing development.
o Downtown Rebound Planning Grants program. $2.5 million. Provides grants to cities and counties for planning and technical assistance related to infill housing, mixed-use developments, and transit corridor developments. Cities and counties may use the money to update zoning ordinances and general plans.
The expanded programs include:
o Multi-family housing assistance program. $188 million. Provides low-cost, deferred-payment loans to local public entities, for-profit and nonprofit corporations, and housing cooperatives for construction, rehabilitation or acquisition of, or conversion to, multi-family rental housing. Costs of developing support facilities, such as child care centers, are also eligible. This is the program's second year.
o Farmworker Housing Grant Program. $46.5 million. Provides grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations for any construction-related cost in the development of homeowner or rental housing for agricultural workers. The program also has a manufacturing housing component, offers assistance to people displaced by unsafe conditions, and funds developments that provide health services for residents.
o Mobilehome Park Resident Ownership Program. $9 million. Provides loans to local public agencies, nonprofits and resident organizations to purchase mobilehome parks and for other efforts to preserve affordable mobilehome parks.
o Emergency Housing Assistant Program. $39 million. Provides grants to local governments and nonprofits to construct rehabilitate and renovate homeless shelters. Also funds equipment purchases and voucher programs.
o Child Care Facilities Finance Program. $16 million. Provides loans and loan guarantees for child care operators and local public agencies to develop, expand or improve child care facilities.
When 5.7 million people say they want to shield local funding from grabbing hands – as they did in November -- that should be the end of the story. At least, that's what California's redevelopment agencies would hope after this annus horribilis in the redevelopment world.
In Year Three of the Great Recession, it's comforting to think that California has heard all the bad news it's going to hear. Or at least we're so accustomed to bad news, that we've stopped getting depressed by it. As a result, many of this year's top stories come with silver linings.
The no-growth vs. slow-growth vs. build-everything debate has become a faint murmur, since not much of anything is getting built anyway. What is getting built, though, is generally pleasing to the smart growth crowd.
Fans of infrastructure development have surely cheered the progress on projects like High Speed Rail and Los Angeles Metro's 30/10 Initiative. Then again, skeptics may be assuring themselves that these projects will never get built.
A major residential and resort development on the Tejon Ranch has won unanimous approval from the Kern County Board of Supervisors. The project, known as Tejon Mountain Village, is proposed to have 3,450 housing units, two golf courses, 750 hotel rooms, a resort and extensive highway commercial development on about 5,000 acres east of Frazier Park.
Forced into negotiations by the state Legislature, the City of Walnut has dropped its lawsuit contesting the adequacy of an environmental impact report for a proposed professional football stadium and 3 million-square-foot entertainment complex in the neighboring City of Industry.
A project that had become a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lightning rod has apparently died. Nestlé Waters North America notified the McCloud Community Services District that it is dropping plans to convert a closed lumber mill in Siskiyou County into a water-bottling plant because it is building the facility in Sacramento instead.
California's farm and grazing lands decreased by 275 square miles from mid-2004 through mid-2006, according to the state Department of Conservation. A total of 81,000 acres of prime farmland were lost to urban development or other changes, the greatest decrease in prime farmland since the state started the farmland mapping and monitoring program in 1984.
A former San Joaquin County political operative who was convicted of corruption in 2005 has had five of 17 guilty counts thrown out by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appellate panel overturned counts of attempted extortion against Monte McFall but upheld conviction on 12 counts of extortion, mail fraud and witness tampering.
The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has released a new report in which it urges less reliance on state general obligation (GO) bonds to fund infrastructure improvements. The report, "Paying For Infrastructure: California's Choices," recommends reducing the voter requirement for local bonds from two-thirds to 55%, more user fees and expanded experimentation with public-private partnerships.
The state's system for regulating water quality is failing, according to the Little Hoover Commission. In a recent report, the investigative panel concluded the current system managed by the State Water Resources Control Board and nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards lacks transparency, consistency and accountability, and that the system does not demonstrably improve water quality.