There have not been a great many surprises in the world of California land use planning and real estate development during 2010. At least that's what I can see now, with the year nearly complete. But in late 2009, I made three predictions for the coming year that turned out to be about half right.
My three predictions were:
• Housing production will increase. This was too easy, and I was right. But not by a lot.
• The SB 375 backlash will start to hit. A number of builders and local government officials jumped off the SB 375 bandwagon this year, but I expected the fallout to reach the general public. It didn't. I got this one half right.
Mike Winn, president of Sacramento-based land development and planning firm Michael Winn Associates, assumes the chairmanship of the California Building Industry Association at a challenging time, to put it mildly. The ravages of the recession and their relationship with the housing market are of course well known, and they have struck at the heart of thousands of developers, contractors, and architects who were deluged with work only a few years ago. As CIBA contemplates a year of dwindling membership and new priorities, CP&DR spoke with Winn about the organization's outlook on a changing California.
In a pair of decisions issued on the same day, the Second District Court of Appeal, Division Four, has addressed the scope of permitted regulation when a mobile home park owner elects to convert a park into a residential subdivision and sell individual spaces. In cases from the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, the court ruled that local government may apply state law and local considerations to restrict mobile home park conversions.
When the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard closed, the United States Navy was steaming home from the South China Sea and the best way to get across San Francisco was in an airborne Mustang GT. It was then, 36 years ago, that the prospect of a massive redevelopment for Hunters Point and adjacent Candlestick Point first sprang to life. And it was just last month that a project was finally approved.
Jamboree Road might not become the next Park Avenue, but a new vision plan recently completed by the City of Irvine signals a major shift away from the suburban lifestyle of Orange County. One of the early cities to pioneer the strict segregation of office-park style commercial development from master-planned residential areas, Irvine will be allowing thousands of new residential units into its business core in the coming decades.
Dammit, it's not fair! Residents of affordable housing get all the lucky breaks. Just look at all the money they're getting from all directions: local government, the local power company, the feds, the green-building lobby. Case in point: the Casa Dominguez development in East Dominguez Hills, an unincorporated area of south Los Angeles County, even has a child care center and a medical clinic, on site.
Use of redevelopment funds by a city-formed nonprofit organization to develop school administrative buildings and a housing project with units reserved for low- and very low-income residents was valid and did not require voter approval, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled.
In reaching its decision, the court had to interpret the various restrictions in redevelopment law as well as Article 34 of the state constitution.
Article 34 as part of the California Constitution, adopted by voters in 1950, had the effect of requiring voter approval of "low rent housing projects." Over time, the Legislature has codified various interpretations of Article 34, excluding from the voter approval process certain types of affordable projects. On a parallel path, the Legislature has modified redevelopment law to ensure that cities spend a certain amount of their tax increments on affordable housing.
Don't be fooled by the peaceful, pastoral look of West Village, a proposed housing development on the campus of UC Davis.
"Shucks," the conceptual site plan seems to say, "I'm just a little old country town. See my bib overalls?"
I'm not falling for it. West Village may be bucolic and all, but this 220-acre project, intended to provide rental housing for students and for-sale housing to faculty, shows an uncompromising commitment to sustainability. Although pastoralism is not always the same thing as environmentalism, in this case it comes with some hard-minded environmentalism.