City sues UC Berkeley for not studying impacts of 30% student enrollment hike

By Frances Dinkelspiel : berkeleyside – excerpt

The city of Berkeley filed a lawsuit against UC Berkeley Friday, contending that the university did not adequately analyze, in a supplemental EIR prepared for a housing development on Hearst Avenue, the impacts of a more than 30% enrollment increase on city services.

UC Berkeley should have done a separate environmental review of the projected increase in enrollment to 44,735 students by 2022-23 instead of folding it into the SEIR for the housing project, the lawsuit states.

The environmental review is deficient because it only looked at how the population increase impacts the campus. It ignored the impacts on city services, the lawsuit contends.

Berkeley has previously stated that the cost of providing services to UC Berkeley is now around $21 million a year, up from $11 million in 2003 — but UC Berkeley officials said the university has not seen firm figures backing up that figure. As part of a legal settlement hammered out in 2005 when UC Berkeley did its last long-range development plan, UC Berkeley agreed to pay Berkeley an annual fee to offset its impact. In 2019, the payment, which has increased with inflation, is about $1.8 million…(more)

Is this really just about the money, or are larger problems looming with a 30% increase in students in such a small community with limited resources?

Nimby, Nimbyism and Nimbyists

flaglerlive – excerpt

Nimby
is an acronym for Not In My Backyard–an attitude that reflects individual or popular opposition to the siting of toxic or polluting dumps, ugly buildings or otherwise objectionable operations or establishments in one’s neighborhood.

The word gained currency in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the United States, especially after the Love Canal disaster in Niagara Falls, N.Y. (where Hooker Chemical Co. had buried almost two dozen tons of toxic chemicals beneath a residential neighborhood then sold the land to the local school district) and the 1979 meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear power station in Harrisburg, Pa.

“A secure landfill anywhere near them is anathema to most Americans today. It’s an attitude referred to in the trade as NIMBY–‘not in my backyard’,” wrote the Christian Science Monitor in November 1980. The following month, Forbes used the word for the first time: “Home builders and city planners have a new name for an old enemy–the ‘Nimbys’..those who want no construction that might disturb the character and real estate value of their neighborhoods.

Nimbyism is a particularly American reflection of the material value ascribed to real estate. The materialism is expressed through the more high-minded lens of property rights or the idealistic, if often opportunistic, lens of environmental stewardship…(more)

June 23 Update on state bills

Update by Hydee Hydee R Feldstein – sent via email

Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development:
https://ahcd.assembly.ca.gov/
1. SB 592: OPPOSE by this Wednesday June 26 at noon.
Hearing July 3, 2019 at 9:15 am State Capitol Room 126. This is the first gut and amend where Wiener gutted the barbershop law and converted it into the 1st part of SB 50 and a mini-version of some of SB 330’s provisions. THIS BILL HAS JUMPED AHEAD AND IS NECK AND NECK WITH SB 330. Please call, submit position letter, write and email and do as much as we did with SB 50.
Opposition:
THE SINGLE BIGGEST PROBLEM IS THE ADDITION OF section 65589.5(j)(1)(B) which MAKES DISCRETIONARY APPROVALS AND VARIANCES OBTAINABLE “BY RIGHT” BY A HOUSING DEVELOPMENT PROJECT. By saying thatany general plan, zoning or subdivision standard is inapplicable if the city “could” approve the housing project without meeting the standard, this language suspends every other regulation related to zoning, planning, design and subdivision standards in favor of density in those jurisdictions where an applicant can initiate a discretionary process for a variance or a conditional use permit.
The definition of “housing development project” in SB 592 allows ALL nonresidential uses in residential neighborhoods, provides a “a single unit” the benefits of multifamily housing development projects (eg without a defintion of “density, this could be read as permitting McMansions statewide) and without explanation or any basis prohibits the regulation of the number of bedrooms in any project. These issues are clearly matters for local control and there is no state interest or rational basis for Sacramento to be legislating what is or is not appropriate in a “single unit” project.
The new definition prohibiting “conditions that have the same effect or impact on the ability of the housing development project to provide housing now specifically includes a prohibition on reducing the number of bedrooms and “the substantial impairment of the housing development project’s economic viability” is absurd — good planning and zoning necessarily makes some types of projects not feasible in some areas (eg a residential hotel with a restaurant/bar and a cannabis facility in a residential area zone) and Sacramento should not be in the business of legalizing commercial uses statewide or regulating the number or size or bedrooms statewide.
SB 592 voids limits on “density” yet fails to include a definition of “density”. The bill requires approval despite increases in density but does not define density. Needs definition which should be “an increase in the number of housing units built as part of a multifamily residential housing development project that otherwise complies with all general plan, zoning ordinances and regulations, use proscriptions, design critera and subdivision standards.”
SB 592 also adds a claim for compensatory damages in favor of developers against our cities and counties. That is a big deal and really objectionable.
SB 592 and SB 330 BOTH will impose substantial costs on our cities and counties in the way of services, infrastructure upgrades and other personnel to handle the increased density mandated.

Assembly Committee on Local Government: https://alcl.assembly.ca.gov/
2. SB 330 – Not yet scheduled for hearing and full amendments are not yet published but we need to be emailing and calling every day as we did with SB 50 to oppose on at least at least the following grounds:
THERE SHOULD BE NO RETROACTIVE invalidation of local plans and laws to 1/1/18. Please please object really strongly on this ground. The retroactive provisions could have all kinds of devastating and unintended consequences.
Object to concept of “occupied substandard building” still in the bill. In response to our objection to slumlord tactics, the Senator changed the word “shall” to the word “may” so that cities and counties are no longer REQUIRED to tolerate 7 year building code violations. But that is NOT enough. Leaving a 7 year dereliction in the statute is still condoning even if not requiring slumlord and shady developer tactics. Sacramento should not be putting its stamp of approval, whether permissively or mandatorily, on these tactics.
The definition of “housing development project” to pick up nonresidential uses in residential neighborhoods and homeless shelters and transitional housing on a statewide basis is unacceptable. Yes we need shelters, no the state should not be creating a use definition that allows a private for-profit developer to decide where to put up a shelter or a mixed use project in residential areas not otherwise zoned locally for these uses.
SB 330 needs to expressly allow for the assessment and imposition of impact fees, linkage charges and connection fees AFTER the preliminary application has been filed because that is the ONLY time those fees can be assessed.
SB 330 needs to honor all underlying zoning and regulation by local authorities
PLEASE OBJECT STRONGLY – the amendments did not fix the problems.

Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting: https://aelc.assembly.ca.gov/committeehome
3. SB 268 OPPOSE by this Wednesday June 26 at noon. Hearing: July 3, 2019. This was the second gut and amend courtesy of Senator Wiener. It reduces transparency of ballot measures and removes language requiring all bonds issued by any local agency to be voter-approved.

Senate Committee on Government and Finance: https://sgf.senate.ca.gov/
4. AB 1487 (Chiu): PLEASE OPPOSE THIS ONE STRONGLY. This is the bill that sets up a shadow government of appointees (half appointed by the transit authority) that can levy taxes and spend the revenue without any accountability to the electorate in the Bay Area. This not only destroys the Bay Area Zoning and starves the city and county of revenue, it also is the template to turn the rest of the state into a zoning version of Soylent Green.

5. AB 587 (Friedland): This would have permitted the sale or conveyance of an ADU separately from the primary residence. This bill was amended in committee to remove the state wide mandate and to simply provide that a city or county may so provide by local ordinance if it wishes to do so. That removed the primary objection but the full text of the bill as amended in the Senate has not yet been published so I really do not know what it says. It is supposed to be scheduled for hearing before this Committee but from the action last week by the
Committee on Govt Modernization, Efficiency, and Accountability, I am concerned that it may simply pass as part of the consent calendar and go to the floor for a vote. It is difficult to oppose if all it says is that a local agency can enact an ordinance permitting a separate sale. I do not plan to submit anything on this bill at this time.

6. AB 1763 (Chiu): Not yet set for hearing. This will be before governance and finance. It has twice been amended in the Senate and STILL INCREASES THE STATE DENSITY BONUSES JUST EFFECTIVE 1/1/2018. For affordable housing projects (100% affordable at least 80% lower income and remaining 20% moderate income or less):
NO density maximums
TOP LEVEL DENSITY BONUS JUMPS TO 80% instead of current 35% – THIS IS REALLY A HUGE SEA CHANGE
UP TO 4, instead of 3, “incentives” within 1/2 mile of transit or bus;
The height of an affordable project is now an increase “by right” up to 2 or 3 additional stories. This means height will no longer an “incentive” since it is “by right” in this bill for increases of up to (a) 2 additional stories or 22 feet within 1/2 mile of “a high quality transit corridor” (without requiring that it be 1/2 mile of a stop on a transit corridor) or (b) 3 additional stories or up to an additional 33 feet within 1/2 mile of rail or ferry);
The FAR of an affordable project is now an increase “by right” up to 55% increase in FAR or 4.25 FAR whichever is GREATER. So FAR up to that size will no longer “count” as an incentive.
THIS BILL NEEDS A COST ANALYSIS for city services and infrastructure.
Senate Committee on Environmental Quality:Position letters are emailed to both:
Committee Assistant Mimi.H…@sen.ca.gov
Republican Consultant Scott….@sen.ca.gov

7. AB 1279 (Bloom): upzones single family to 4plex. Not yet set for hearing. OPPOSE

8. AB 68 (Ting) ADU bill referred to Senate Committee on Environmental Quality not yet set for hearing. OPPOSE

9. PLEASE Support AB 1788 (Bloom). It seems to be having trouble getting out of committees due to the pesticide lobby. It passed environmental quality committee last week but was re-referred to the Natural Resources and Water Committee which has not yet scheduled it for hearing. However since this committee requires position letters at lease 7 business days in advance, we should get our support in asap by submitting a position letter here: https://sntr.senate.ca.gov/content/position-letters . In a nutshell, this bill should be a no-brainer to ban the rat poisons that (a) have been shown to have disastrous effects on wildlife (the predators who eat rats (raptors like owls, falcons, hawks, eagles and condors, mountain lions and bobcats) die from eating poisoned rats, reducing the number of predators, increasing the number of rats, leading to more poison, you get it; (b) put kids and pets at real risk; and (c) increasingly have been showing up in our waters — oceans and rivers and sea and river wildlife.The pest control industry has seized on recent news stories about rats in LA to stall the bill as it was about to succeed, which of course is nonsense. There are rats in every city and on every farm worldwide — they are looking for food. Rat control is a question of trash collection, anti-dumping enforcement, trapping and a healthy ecosystem with predators that can catch and eat rats without risking their own lives.

Other Bills of Interest:

10. AB 516 (Chiu): This one is new to me. A police officer spoke about it at a recent neighborhood council meeting. It amends the Vehicle Code to remove the ability of peace officers to (a) immobilize a vehicle (eg no wheel clamps), and (b) removes the ability to impound a vehicle that has not moved for 72 hours or more. This bill was amended i the Senate so that now the car can be impounded but only after ANOTHER 10 business days beyond the date that the peace officer has left a notice on the windshield that the vehicle will be impounded if not moved. I just do not have time to do a thorough job on this one but please know that LAPD officers with lots of experience are dead against it saying it could turn our streets into car parks.

11. SB 212 (Allen). SB 212’s provisions have to do with the creation of a ranked choice voting system applicable in general law cities and unincorporated areas. I just note the bill because I know many elected and appointed officials are interested in the topic but I have not analyzed the bill and leave that task to someone else.

12. SB 235 (Dodd): For anyone who thought spotzoning for a particular project was not really in vogue in Sacramento, take a look at SB 235 regarding the “Napa Pipe” project. I have no idea what it is and whether it is a good project or a bad project but how can Sacramento ever claim that something like this is a general law?

13. SB 50 (Wiener): Last amended on June 4 and had its second reading that day. So although this was referred back to Appropriations, it is still very much a live bill and ready to be voted on the Senate Floor if passed by Appropriations.

The following bills have passed (or effectively passed) out of committee and are headed to the Senate floor for a third reading and a vote:

14. AB 670 (Friedland): invalidates all covenants, deed restrictions or any other provisions in planned communities or other common interest developments that would “effectively prohibit” or “unreasonably restrict the construction or use” of an ADU or a junior ADU on a single family zoned lot.

The subjective environmental law that rules every land-use project

sonomasun – excerpt

Land use projects in Sonoma are always subject to CEQA, California’s Environmental Quality Act. This does not mean every project is required to undergo an extensive and expensive process of environmental evaluation, but it does mean every land use project needs to be declared either subject to the act, or exempt from it. Accordingly, CEQA has enormous influence on land use patterns, and how projects are allowed or not allowed to proceed…

The requirements of CEQA have prompted, and continue to prompt, litigation. Ongoing examples in Sonoma include the Cheese Factory demolition and reconstruction proposal of 2018 (currently under appeal) and the Gateway project at Broadway and MacArthur (now in litigation).

CEQA was created during the wave of increased environmental consciousness in the late 1960s, and was signed into law by Republican Governor Ronald Reagan in 1970. Similar to federal law, CEQA requires that each proposed project be considered individually to avoid detrimental environmental impacts. Specifically, CEQA is intended to:

  • Inform decision-makers and the public about a project’s environmental impacts
  • Identify ways to mitigate, avoid, or prevent environmental damage
  • To inform the public as to why a project receives approval even if it leads to environmental damage
  • To encourage and stimulate public participation… (more)

This article does a good job of explaining of how CEQA works. It is important to understand some of the basics of the CEQA laws to understand what CEQA protects by requiring advance public notice and public participation in the decision-making development of our communities. It is important to know CEQA protects to understand why some of our state representatives want to repeal it. CEQA is a big complicated process that cannot be easily repealed so there are lot of bills being written to remove it a piece at a time. Find out more about these bills and the efforts to stop them at livablecalifornia.org

The promise of chemical recycling

By Allan Gerlat : recyclingtoday – excerpt

Proponents say chemical recycling offers a way to recover plastics that are unsuited to traditional mechanical recycling methods.

At a time when headlines scream about plastic choking the oceans, companies around the world are searching for ways to repurpose end-of-life plastics. For some, the answer might be found in a philosophy of better living through chemistry.

Proponents say chemical recycling offers a way to recover plastics that are unsuited to traditional mechanical recycling methods. Most chemical recycling operations are just now emerging out of the experimental phase…

Agilyx Inc.

Agilyx Inc., Tigard, Oregon, is one of a few established chemical recyclers in the U.S. Its technology for recycling mixed plastics has yielded more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil that the company sells to refineries to be made into products such as low-carbon recycled jet fuel, gasoline and plastic resin.

“Agilyx has developed a comprehensive platform over the past 14 years that can effectively convert a broad range of plastics to a broad range of high-quality fuels and chemical substrates,” says CEO Joseph Vaillancourt…

Carbios

Carbios, a green chemistry company focused on plastics recycling, is targeting polyethylene terephthalate (PET)—a resin it believes offers huge market potential…

Recycling Technologies Ltd.

Recycling Technologies Ltd., Swindon, England, employs thermal cracking to break down mixed plastics that can’t be recycled economically by mechanical means. The process produces a low-sulfur oil, dubbed Plaxx, which can be used to manufacture food-grade plastics, says Adrian Haworth, the company’s marketing and sales director…

BioCellection Inc.

Startup BioCellection Inc., Menlo Park, California, is targeting plastics that would otherwise be landfilled because of contamination or lack of mechanical recycling options. It is focused mainly on low-grade polyethylene film…

Loop Industries Inc.

Like BioCellection, Loop Industries Inc., Terrebonne, Quebec, uses a catalyst. The patented catalyst breaks down PET material—including mixed PET and polyester fiber—without the use of heat or pressure. The technology doesn’t require sorting, but shredding speeds up the process, as smaller pieces depolymerize more quickly…

Market demand

In August, recycler ReNew ELP, Redcar, England, and Finnish refinery company Neste agreed to partner to use plastic scrap as a raw material to produce liquid hydrocarbons, chemicals and new plastics…

The author is a correspondent for Plastics Machinery Magazine and can be reached at agerlat.

For more information:

Agilyx Corp., 503-217-3160, www.agilyx.com

BioCellection Inc., 408-802-5990, www.biocellection.com

Carbios S.A., 33-4-73-86-51-76, https://carbios.fr/en

Demeto, 32-2-739-6388, www.demeto.eu

Loop Industries Inc., 450-951-8555, www.loopindustries.com

Recycling Technologies Ltd., 44-1793-827-965, www.recyclingtechnologies.co.uk

ReNew ELP, 44-01642-438-280, www.renewelp.co.uk(more)

A series of articles on Gut and Amend and Bait and Switch

We first noticed the problem when Wiener replaced the contents of SB592 to beat the deadline date for introducing legislation. Now he has pulled the same tactic on Senate Bill 268 that dealt with welfare benefits. He is using this bill to overturn a ballot transparency bill to hide the spending plans on tax and bond measures.

Read all about these tactics that are being widely opposed and will be used against him the next time he runs for office. The senator is extremely unpopular in his original district already due to his actions against the constituents he supposedly represents.

Here are some articles that cover the tactics:

City Council Condemns Sen. Wiener’s ‘Gut and Amend’ of SB592

beverlyhills.org/citymanager/…/citycouncilcondemnssenwienersgutandamendofsb592

2 days ago – “In Sacramento, it’s called ‘gut and amend‘ but in reality it is just another term for a bait- and-switch,” said Mayor John Mirisch. “We oppose this …

Editorial, Bait and Switch, Scam, Constitutional rights, Assemblyman …

https://www.wonews.com/t-Editorial_BaitAndSwitch_032918.aspx

Mar 29, 2018 – Many California politicians are doing the old “bait and switch” technique now with introduced legislation, but it’s called, “Gut and Amend.

When Time Runs Short in Sacramento, Proposed Laws Appear in a …

https://www.kqed.org/…/when-time-runs-short-in-sacramento-proposed-laws-appear-i…

Sep 11, 2015 – “Gut-and-amend bills are tantamount to ‘bait-and-switch schemes,” said Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause, …

California Common Cause Discourages “Gut-and-Amends” in the …

https://www.commoncause.org/…/california-common-cause-discourages-gut-and-ame…

California Common Cause strongly opposes the practice of “gut-and-amend,” … Gut-and-amend bills are tantamount to “bait-and-switch” schemes,” said Kathay …

Anti-Neighborhood SB 330 Takes a Hit!

by Coalition to Preserve LA

An avalanche of opposition to SB 330 yesterday forced state Sen. Nancy Skinner, an ally of Scott Wiener, to drop some of the bill’s radical concepts, like a 7-year protection plan for slumlords and a ban on voter referendums to undo the worst parts of SB 330.

Coalition to Preserve LA, Livable California, San Diego Tenants Union and dozens of others including San Diego’s Save Our Heritage Organization, Boyle Heights Community Partners, Coalition for Valley Neighborhoods, and Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center, flew to Sacramento or sent in their opposition to Skinner’s bill that gives developers bold new powers to overrun 273 cities with controversial luxury housing.

We thank Jamal Jones, of Alliance for Locally Planned Growth, Rafael Bautista of San Diego Tenants Union, the Citizens Planning Association, and hundreds of others who put heat on Skinner before the vote by the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development.

Skinner, clearly irritated at the opposition, said her bill helped the poor. Her allies, San Diego’s Todd Gloria, San Fernando Valley’s Jesse Gabriel, and San Francisco’s David Chiu, warmly praised SB 330. But under rising statewide pressure, Skinner agreed to strip key elements that clearly hurt renters and the poor, and undermined democracy.

We are thankful that Sen. Skinner agreed to remove elements that would have:

  • Ended the right of citizens, until 2025, to vote to undo the worst of SB 330.
  • Let slumlords ignore code violations for 7 years if they didn’t hurt health or safety.
  • Let developers count “relocation assistance” they’re required to pay to displaced renters, as if that money had gone to construction of an actual housing unit.

Only San Diego State Sen. Brian Maienschein abstained from the 7-0 committee vote approving her amended bill, saying, “I have to check with my community groups first.” We applaud Maienschein for noting that his constituents were important to him.

Housing Committee chair Chiu echoed Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), claiming that voters and activists were wrongly “mischaracterizing” SB 330.

But in fact, SB 330, which will next be heard July 3 in the Assembly Local Government Committee, is the latest Sacramento push to grease the skids on behalf of for-profit luxury developers. “It doesn’t build one unit of affordable housing and it kills most recorded public hearings,” said Jill Stewart, Executive Director of Coalition to Preserve LA.

Skinner insists this “helps local governments with efficiencies and certainty.” No it doesn’t. SB 330 forces cities to approve controversial luxury housing projects within 60 days — or be sued by developers and face lawsuit awards of $10,000 per unit.

If this concerns you, please join us NOW in fighting SB 330.

Wiener’s gut-and-replace a bad tactic

By Susan Kirsch : marinpost – excerpt

State Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco is using shameful tactics to pass ill-conceived housing legislation. His behavior tarnishes his reputation and worsens already low approval ratings of his colleagues.

In May, Wiener’s high-density housing bill (State Bill 50) was shelved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. This one-size-fits-all bill would take away elected city council’s authority for land use zoning and give it to developers. Legislators had the good sense to say, “No.”

Now Wiener strikes back. Last week, he gutted his State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (SB 592) bill, renamed it “Housing and Accountability Act,” and replaced the contents.

This new legislation will bypass Wiener’s peers on the Senate Housing Committee. Cities, agencies and individuals won’t have adequate time to review. It will go straight to the Assembly Housing Committee on July 3.

The Public Policy Institute of California recently released at survey about Californians’ view of government. They asked, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way the California Legislature is handling its job?” According to the numbers, 44% disapproved, 39% approved, and 17% said they didn’t know. Now they know.

Wiener, influenced by monied, for-profit interests who aim to give the upper hand to developers and corporate financial interests, is stooping to a new low with his gut-and-replace tactic.

What can you do? Call Marin Assemblyman Marc Levine at (916) 319-2010, Sen. Mike McGuire at (916) 651-4002 and Assembly Housing Committee Chair David Chiu at (916) 319-2017. Urge them to oppose SB 592.

— Susan Kirsch, Mill Valley

Generational Trends in Vehicle Ownership and Use: Are Millennials Any Different?

By Christopher R. Knittel, Elizabeth Murphy : nber – excerpt

NBER Working Paper No. 25674 Issued in March 2019

Anecdotes that Millennials fundamentally differ from prior generations are numerous in the popular press. One claim is that Millennials, happy to rely on public transit or ride-hailing, are less likely to own vehicles and travel less in personal vehicles than previous generations. However, in this discussion it is unclear whether these perceived differences are driven by changes in preferences or the impact of forces beyond the control of Millennials, such as the Great Recession. We empirically test whether Millennials’ vehicle ownership and use preferences differ from those of previous generations using data from the US National Household Travel Survey, Census, and American Community Survey. We estimate both regression and nearest-neighbor matching models to control for the confounding effect of demographic and macroeconomic variables. We find little difference in preferences for vehicle ownership between Millennials and prior generations once we control for confounding variables. In contrast to the anecdotes, we find higher usage in terms of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) compared to Baby Boomers. Next we test whether Millennials are altering endogenous life choices that may, themselves, affect vehicles ownership and use. We find that Millennials are more likely to live in urban settings and less likely to marry by age 35, but tend to have larger families, controlling for age. On net, these other choices have a small effect on vehicle ownership, reducing the number of vehicles per household by less than one percent…(more)

Bill For Bay Area’s First Regional Housing Finance Agency Advances

By Sharon Rushton : marinpost – excerpt

Assembly Bill 1487 (Chiu), the “San Francisco Bay Area Regional Housing Finance Act”, advanced from the State Assembly to the State Senate. It will be heard by the Senate Housing Committee on June 18, 2019.

Please read on to learn about Assembly Bill 1487. If you agree that the bill is flawed and should be defeated, then please follow the “TAKE ACTION” suggestions at the end of this article.

About Assembly Bill 1487

The stated purpose of AB-1487 is to “establish the ‘Housing Alliance for the Bay Area’ in order to increase affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area by providing enhanced funding and technical assistance for tenant protection, affordable housing preservation, and new affordable housing production.”…(more)

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