CEQA Lawsuit Halts Irvine Company’s 1,076-Unit Housing Development in Sunnyvale

By Jennifer Wadsworth : sanjoseinside – excerpt

Just when an environmental review cleared the way to build 1,076 new homes on a 34-acre site in Sunnyvale, a lawsuit stopped the project in its tracks.

The petition filed this week by the Laborers International Union of North America, Local 270, claims the city flouted the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by failing to consider how Irvine Company’s proposal would impact “indoor air quality and birds.”…(more)

San Francisco residents get a chance to see Democratic presidential candidates up close

Baycitynews – excerpt

California Democratic Party Organizing Convention kicks off Friday in The City

Several Democratic U.S. presidential candidates are making appearances in San Francisco starting Thursday as part of the California Democratic Party Organizing Convention.

The three-day CDP convention, which kicks off Friday, is the largest gathering of active Democrats in the state, with more than 3,400 delegates set to attend.

Saturday’s lineup includes 2020 presidential hopefuls U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, as well as former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke…

On Sunday, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, former U.S. Rep. John Delaney and former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro are set to take the stage… (more)

Get the lowdown here: https://www.sfexaminer.com/news/numerous-democratic-presidential-candidates-passing-through-sf-this-week/ Watch Manny’s Bar on Valencia and 16th for more politicians as they sweep through.

Calabasas Wants Housing for Cars, Not People

by Dylan Casey : carlaef – excerpt

On May 23rd, 2019, California Renters Legal Advocacy & Education Fund filed suit to force Calabasas (in LA County) to follow state housing law.

In January 2019, Calabasas City Council passed an ADU ordinance ostensibly to bring their code into compliance with state law. However, they couldn’t quite bring themselves to comply.

Calabasas has always required two covered parking spaces (aka a two car garage) for every single family home in the city. In enacting their latest ADU ordinance, the City Council preserved this requirement, clarifying that a new garage would have to be constructed if an existing garage was converted to an ADU… (more)

One comment that may give some people hope: If they arrogantly start suing everyone-especially in Southern California, it will create a strong backlash. Southern California will prove to be much more problematic for SF YIMBYS than they realize. Strong business and political interests will fight back.

Some of these people should spend some time in the cities they are suing to see just how likely they are to conform to the TOD model they want to foist on everyone. Calabasas is one of the least likely communities to fit the mold.

California Assembly passes rent-cap bill

By Kate Murphy : mercurynews – excerpt

Move is a huge victory for tenant advocates

SACRAMENTO — In a dramatic victory for tenant advocates, the California Assembly narrowly passed a statewide rent-cap proposal on Wednesday night amid mounting pressure for lawmakers to protect renters from the steepest of increases in a hot rental market.

If the bill clears the Senate, California could become the second state in the nation this year to limit annual rent hikes, covering millions of properties not covered by local rent control rules.

In a final appeal to his colleagues, the bill’s author, Assemblyman David Chiu, said the bill would protect the most vulnerable residents who are a rent-hike away from eviction. “They are our neighbors,” he said. “They are our co-workers. They are our brothers and sisters. They are our grandparents.”

Assembly Bill 1482, which passed 43-28, would apply to most properties not covered by local rent control ordinances — including rented single-family homes and condos in cities with rent control. It was amended last week to exempt properties that are less than 10 years old, and — because of an 11th-hour handshake deal with a powerful trade group — it will undergo more key changes in the Senate…(more)

These students had a housing idea. Facebook listened. Now, it’s becoming reality

By Marisa Kendall : mercury news – excerpt

$1 million pilot project will fund four affordable casitas

MENLO PARK — When 20 local high school students walked into Facebook’s office last year and laid out their plan for solving the region’s affordable housing shortage, they didn’t really expect the tech executives in the room to listen.

But the Facebook team was moved and helped turn the students’ idea into a $1.1 million reality — a pilot program to fund four small backyard granny flats for low-income residents in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park. Facebook will contribute $325,000 to the effort, and Menlo Park-based nonprofit Soup will put in $775,000.

“It’s surreal to kind of see what we talked about actually happening,” said 16-year-old Nataly Manzanero Perez, a sophomore at Sequoia High School in Redwood City.

The money will finance low-interest loans for low and moderate-income homeowners who couldn’t otherwise afford to build a granny flat and might struggle to get traditional financing. When the granny flats, also known as accessory dwelling units, in-law units or casitas, are complete, they must be rented out at below-market-rate to low-income families — simultaneously creating new affordable housing and providing extra income to the homeowner who builds the unit. It’s the latest attempt by Facebook, often blamed for driving up housing prices by flooding the area with highly paid tech workers, to tackle the region’s crippling affordable housing shortage…(more)

In the shadow of Silicon Valley’s tech boom, thousands of Bay Area residents live in RVs

By Mike Seemuth : therealdeal – excerpt

Mountain View, where Google is based, has banned the practice of parking RVs overnight on public streets to limit its population of vehicle dwellers.\

The tech boom in Silicon Valley has made housing too expensive for thousands of people in San Francisco and the Bay Area who live in vans, RVs and other vehicles.

In Mountain View, the home of Google’s headquarters, police in December counted nearly 300 RVs that appeared to serve as primary residences.

Similar numbers of apparent homes on wheels have been found in Berkeley, Palo Alto and other towns in the Bay Area… (more)

RV dwellers should go on strike for a day to see who does’t show up for work. Maybe that would give local officials some impetus to organize a trailer park or two to house the workers living in their vehicles. There is noting wrong with a trailer park. It sure beats living on the streets.

In housing, privacy and more, a Capitol lightning round nixes controversial bills

But it wasn’t all bad news for those who want to build more homes. A proposal by East Bay Sen. Nancy Skinner to forbid high-cost cities from “downzoning”—reducing allowable building heights, imposing new construction moratoriums, and charging higher “impact” fees to new residential construction—passed committee and is advancing to the Senate floor.

by Laurel Rosenhall : calmatters – excerpt

This year’s annual culling of the legislative suspense file dispatched with hundreds of bills—including some high-profile ones—at lightning-round speed

Some of the most contentious ideas California lawmakers were considering this year—to expand internet privacy protections and require denser housing development—were jettisoned Thursday as the Legislature culled hundreds of bills in a fast-and-furious annual procedural ritual.

Decisions on the “suspense file,” as it’s known, mark a do-or-die moment in the lawmaking process. Reeled off at auctioneer-like speed, the pass-or-hold calls are traditionally made with little or no public discussion or explanation.

Officially, the practice lets beancounters in each house weigh costly proposals against each other and prioritize how the Legislature should spend taxpayer dollars. Unofficially, it’s a way for powerful lawmakers to quietly kill bills before they get to the floor of a chamber—without debate or even a public vote.

The Assembly appropriations committee considered 721 bills Thursday, a bigger load than at any time in the last decade. Lawmakers—aware of swelling tax revenues and a new governor who campaigned on an agenda to expand government services like health care and child care—have been pitching plenty of ideas for spending money. The Senate, which has half as many members as the Assembly, considered 355 bills in its appropriations lightning round…

But it wasn’t all bad news for those who want to build more homes. A proposal by East Bay Sen. Nancy Skinner to forbid high-cost cities from “downzoning”—reducing allowable building heights, imposing new construction moratoriums, and charging higher “impact” fees to new residential construction—passed committee and is advancing to the Senate floor… (more)

Weakling or bully? The battle over CEQA, the state’s iconic environmental law

By Alastair Bland : calmatters – excerpt

In the rugged hills to the east of the Napa Valley, chainsaws and bulldozers converted a steep hillside of scrubby oak woodland and rockpiles into another vineyard.

“That was an incredible rock-hopping wonderland, with frothing, amazing, waterfalling cascades every time it rained—I mean, it should have been a park,” said nearby resident Kellie Anderson of what is now a plot of grapevines at Bremer Family Winery, in the small community of Deer Park.

Napa County’s Board of Supervisors in 2012 approved that project with a permit to remove more than 1,000 trees and import truckloads of soil to make the craggy landscape arable, without requiring an environmental impact report. These reports—involving expert inspections and assessments, detailed mitigation plans, and opportunity for public comment—are a key feature of the state’s signature environmental law: the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA (see-kwa)…

Inside the Capitol’s corridors and pro-development quarters around the state, CEQA is increasingly disparaged as a villain in the state’s housing crisis. It’s characterized as a litigation lever that allows citizens—and even labor unions and business rivals—to sue or threaten to sue, obstructing direly needed housing projects on thin environmental pretenses. The Legislature is considering a handful of bills to loosen CEQA’s rules, something former Gov. Jerry Brown—often stymied in his modest efforts to do so—labeled “the Lord’s work.” New Gov. Gavin Newsom, to fulfill his hyper-ambitious quota of new housing construction, has called for fast-tracking judicial CEQA review of housing, similar to that granted sports teams building stadiums.… (more)

Senator Nancy Skinner Announces the “Housing Crisis Act of 2019”

sd09 – excerpt

State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, today unveiled the “Housing Crisis Act of 2019,” a sweeping new initiative that will speed up the creation of new housing in California at a time when the state is facing an extreme housing crisis in both supply and affordability. The act would suspend, for a 10-year period, specific local rules and regulations that are recognized as obstacles to housing production, and it would establish reasonable time periods for processing housing permits. The legislation, also known as Senate Bill 330, includes anti-displacement provisions to help keep tenants and low-income families in their homes.

“California’s housing crisis has reached historic levels. The state ranks 49th in the nation when it comes to housing units per capita, and the housing crisis is estimated to cost the state $140 billion a year in lost

economic output,” Sen. Skinner said. “The acute shortage of housing also has sent prices skyrocketing, displacing residents from their homes and deepening the state’s poverty and homelessness crises.”…

Under the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, the following provisions would apply to cities and counties with high housing costs and housing shortages until 2030:

  • A moratorium on “downzoning” neighborhoods – that is, reducing the number of units that can be built on a parcel – from Jan. 1, 2018 until 2030. (For example, if city already allows a four-unit building on a site, SB 330 would bar a city from reducing that number to three or less.)
  • A prohibition on housing moratoriums or the establishment of caps on new housing construction or on building permits and zoning variances from Jan. 1, 2018 until 2030.
  • A ban on raising housing fees, increasing or enforcing of parking minimums, or enacting costly design standards.
  • A suspension on the collection of housing fees on affordable housing development…(more)

Finally, a city study says public power makes perfect sense

By Tim Redmond :48hills – excerpt

San Francisco could buy out PG&E’s local distribution system, provide cleaner, cheaper energy, and make money in the process.

It’s hard to believe, after I’ve spent more than three decades talking about the advantages of public power in San Francisco, that City Hall – including the Mayor’s Office – is finally coming around.

In a stunning report issued this week, the city’s Public Utilities Commission concludes that buying out the private utility’s local infrastructure and creating a full municipal utility makes financial and environmental sense… (more)

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