Transportation Committee Denies Mar Vista Venice Blvd Legal Challenge

By Joe Linton : streetsblog – excerpt

Today, the L.A. City Council Transportation Committee supported the Mar Vista Venice Boulevard Great Streets project. The committee unanimously denied a legal appeal against the project, affirming that the safety improvements are categorically exempt from full California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review.

The 0.8-mile Mar Vista Great Streets project includes improved pedestrian crossings, parking-protected bike lanes, a short stretch of buffered bike lanes, and a road diet lane reconfiguration from six through-lanes to four. Project construction finished in May, 2017. The road diet was initially temporary, pending an evaluation after one year. In December 2018, when data showed reduced serious injury crashes, the L.A. Department of Transportation (LADOT) made the project permanent….

Councilmembers Mike Bonin, Paul Koretz, and Nury Martinez unanimously voted to deny the CEQA appeal, and affirm that the project is indeed categorically exempt. The project is located in Councilmember Bonin’s district, and he has strongly championed it. The committee’s decision is in the end less of an affirmation of the importance of street safety initiatives, and more in deference to Bonin.

The item (council file 19-0092) will soon go to the full council where it is likely to be approved. After that, the matter could end up in court(more)

It appears that these Councilmembers may be facing some tough competition during the next election from the public opposition to these projects.

SB 50 Wiener Will Only Cause More Gentrification, Here’s Why

By Zennie Abraham : oaklnadnewsnow – excerpt

California State Senator Scott Wiener (SD 11 – San Francisco) has pushed legislation known as “SB 50” for some time now, claiming that it will add more affordable housing to the California’s urban areas.

State Senator Wiener seems to think that just increasing housing density will lower the cost of housing, and expresses that tired and wrong-headed ideology in this dog of a bill he insists on advancing. Here’s why he’s totally wrong, and why everyone, including the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Board, should run, and not walk, away from this travesty of thought.

SB 50 Doesn’t Provide True Affordable Housing-Focused Development Incentives…
Transit Redevelopment Zones For SB 50 And BART Stations…

Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media(more)

‘A New Day at SANDAG’ as Agency Admits it Must Cut Promised Projects

By Andrew Keatts : voiceofsandiego – excerpt
The San Diego Association of Governments admitted Friday it would not finish building everything it promised in 2004, when voters extended a sales tax to pay for highway and transit projects across the county.

The San Diego Association of Governments admitted Friday it would not finish building everything it promised in 2004, when voters extended a sales tax to pay for highway and transit projects across the county.

SANDAG had for years insisted it would still build everything in TransNet, the tax-funded program that promised major projects like the Mid-Coast Trolley extension and an expansion of I-15, even as its revenue expectations consistently fell and its cost projections relentlessly grew.

Voice of San Diego first reported the agency’s infrastructure program was in financial turmoil in October 2016, but SANDAG regularly maintained that concerns were unwarranted.

That’s over now. SANDAG’s new executive director, Hasan Ikhrata, told the board Friday that it was time to start deciding which remaining projects would get the dwindling share of expected funding, and which would be eliminated… (more)

California Supreme Court Clarifies Scope of De Novo and Substantial Evidence Standards Of Review In CEQA Cases

In Sierra Club v. County of Fresno (S219783), the California Supreme Court unanimously reaffirmed that the substantial evidence standard of review does not always apply when a lead agency prepares an environmental impact report (“EIR”) for a development project. Rather, the court determined that the less deferential de novo standard applies if the EIR’s discussion of a potentially significant impact has been omitted or is factually insufficient. In other words, while a lead agency has considerable discretion as to the methodology and analysis it employs to analyze a potentially significant impact, an EIR must reasonably describe the nature and magnitude of the impact (i.e., include a meaningful explanation of why an impact is significant or not) if it is to survive judicial scrutiny. In County of Fresno, the court employed the de novo standard, the Court held that the EIR’s air quality analysis was inadequate because it did not explain the connection between the project pollutants and negative health effects or explain why it could not make such a connection… (more)

Gavin Newsom’s housing lawsuit put 47 California cities on notice. Is yours on the list?

 By Bryan Anderson and Madeline Ashmun : sacbee – excerpt (includes map)

Newsom-Fights.jpg

Sue you, and you, and you! by SF Blue Comics

In his State of the State address, California Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged the state’s housing problem. While he doesn’t intend to sue all of the cities for their failures to meet their housing obligations, he vowed to hold them all accountable.

Encinitas is just the kind of place Gavin Newsom might want to sue.

A local voter-approved initiative from 2013 makes planning for affordable homes nearly impossible, preventing the wealthy city of 60,000 from complying with a state law that requires local governments to build more housing.

The city has already spent $3.5 million in the last few years fighting a pair of housing-related lawsuits. The bill could climb if Newsom follows through on a threat to hold local governments accountable to the state housing law.

“I don’t feel proud to be the mayor of a city that is in the midst of costing millions of taxpayer dollars,” said Catherine Blakespear, the city’s mayor. “I want to free up some of our planning ability to talk about other issues. This housing (issue) dominates everything that we talk about.”

Encinitas of San Diego County is one of 47 California cities under scrutiny by the Newsom administration for not complying with a state law that requires them to plan for the construction of affordable housing. Newsom’s administration recently sued Huntington Beach for not keeping up with its housing promises, alarming other local governments… (more)

Fremont Councilman Bacon to run for Alameda County supervisor

By Joseph Geha : eastbaytimes – excerpt

District 1 incumbent Scott Haggerty has been unopposed since 2000

FREMONT — Fremont City Councilman Vinnie Bacon is planning a 2020 run for Alameda County Supervisor in District 1, offering a challenge to longtime incumbent Scott Haggerty, who hasn’t faced an opponent for nearly two decades.

“If you want someone new, here I am,” Bacon said Sunday in an interview with this news organization.

“We need debate,” he said. “It’s just wrong for anybody to go into office without a challenger.”…

Bacon said he’s hoping to win over voters with a platform focused on evening out the jobs-housing imbalance and limiting what he called overdevelopment, which he said have led to cascading effects of untenable traffic congestion and school overcrowding.

“I think my ability to argue for better planning and development that doesn’t lead to all the traffic problems we have, I think that is my experience in Fremont, and it is applicable to a more regional office like that,” he said… (more)

Andy Yan, the analyst who exposed Vancouver’s real estate disaster

by Terry Glavinmacleans – excerpt (includes interactive map)

Hated by politicians, speculators and money-launderers, Andy Yan’s data on Vancouver housing has earned him the right to say, ‘I told you so’

Andy Yan is a 42-year-old East Vancouverite who came up out of the proud working class ranks of Van Tech high school, toiling on weekends in the kill tank at the old Hallmark Poultry Factory on Clark Drive. He set out on a career in urban regeneration and applied demographics that took him to projects in New Orleans, New York City and San Francisco.

Nowadays he’s the director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University, and while he’s too modest to boast about it, along the way he’s picked up a couple of exceedingly rare civic distinctions.

The first is the enduring enmity of all the politicians, real estate speculators, white-collar currency pirates and money launderers who have turned Vancouver into a global swindler’s paradise for real estate racketeering, a city that is now also one of the world’s most hopelessly pathetic urban landscapes of housing affordability. The second thing Yan has earned is an unfettered and unimpeachable right to say “I told you so.”(more)

2019-20 Budget – Considerations for the Governor’s Housing Plan

LAO : The Legislative Analyst’s Office
The California Legislature’s Nonpartisan Fiscal and Policy Advisor

Summary

Housing in California has long been more expensive than most of the rest of the country. Addressing California’s housing crisis is one of the most difficult challenges facing the state. The 2019-20 Governor’s budget includes various proposals aimed at improving the affordability of housing in the state. Specifically, the Governor proposes (1) providing planning and production grants to local governments, (2) expanding the state Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, (3) establishing a new state housing tax credit program targeting relatively higher-income households, and (4) expanding a loan program for middle-income housing production. The Governor’s housing proposals raise questions about which populations to prioritize. The Legislature will need to decide if it agrees with the Governor’s approach to spread the state’s housing resources among broader income levels—including middle-income households—or whether it prefers to target the state’s resources toward the Californians most in need of housing assistance. Because the need for housing assistance outstrips current resources and there are fewer policy options to address affordability for low-income households, we suggest the Legislature consider prioritizing General Fund resources towards programs that assist low-income households. Given that the Governor’s proposals are largely conceptual at this stage, we highlight key questions the Legislature might want to ask the administration as it considers the merits of the proposals, including: (1) the timeline for awarding new affordable housing funding, (2) plans to fund future maintenance costs associated with affordable housing developments, and (3) the state’s approach for administering the newly proposed state housing tax credit program. Lastly, we note that the enormity of California’s housing challenges suggest that policy makers explore a variety of solutions. While the Governor proposes a few approaches to address the state’s high housing costs, the Legislature could pursue a variety of other tactics that address these and/or other facets of the state’s housing crisis.

Conclusion

Addressing California’s housing crisis is one of the most difficult challenges facing the state’s policy makers. Millions of Californians struggle to find housing that is both affordable and suits their needs. The crisis also is a long time in the making, the culmination of decades of shortfalls in housing construction. And just as the crisis has taken decades to develop, it will take many years or decades to correct.

In light of the state’s housing crisis, the Governor’s interest in investing state resources on affordable housing is commendable. However, we questions the expansion of housing assistance programs towards broader income levels when other options are available to assist middle‑income households cope with high housing costs. Furthermore, given the conceptual nature of many of the Governor’s housing proposals, we highlight key questions the Legislature should ask the administration as it considers the merits of the proposals… (more)

Download pdf of full report

 

My turn: Don’t blame environmental law for California’s housing crisis

By Ashley Werner : calmatters – excerpt

California is facing a housing crisis of unprecedented proportions. Lower-income residents across the state must choose whether to pay for rent or food. People who can’t cover housing costs are forced to leave their homes, their neighborhoods and even the state.

But as legislators resume discussions regarding policy solutions, we must be clear: California’s environmental regulations did not cause the housing crisis and eviscerating the California Environmental Quality Act would harm disadvantaged communities.

Some developers claim the California Environmental Quality Act is a major factor behind the state’s unmet housing needs. But multiple studies have shown this act, a bedrock of California environmental law, plays a limited role in determining whether and where housing is built…

These policies would move us closer to ensuring all Californians have an affordable, decent quality home. We can and must address the housing crisis without sacrificing California’s core environmental protections.

Ashley Werner is a senior attorney for the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability in Fresno, awerner@leadershipcounsel.org. She wrote this commentary for CALmatters... (more)

City Attorney Outlines Impacts on Santa Barbara of State Housing Legislation

By Giana Magnoli : noozhawk – excerpt

With laws ‘basically designed to strip local control,’ city planners are working to create objective design standards for development projects.

Santa Barbara city planners will spend the next year creating objective design standards for development projects in response to the package of state housing legislation that then-Gov. Jerry Brown approved for California in 2017.

Assistant City Attorney Tava Ostrenger presented a breakdown of the legislation’s local impact to the Planning Commission on Thursday and said it was “basically designed to strip local control.”

The intent of the legislation is to boost housing development and affordability, streamline development, and increase accountability and enforcement of cities’ and counties’ housing goals… (more)

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