Marin supervisors push back against huge state housing mandate

By  : marinij – excerpt
Only Mill Valley, Corte Madera built enough during last 8 years to be exempt
Marin supervisors said this week they are gravely concerned about a looming state mandate to build over 14,000 new housing units throughout the county between 2022 and 2030.

“Marin County recognizes the need for more affordable housing. We are pursuing a number of strategies to achieve that goal,” Supervisor Damon Connolly said. “But residents are justified in being alarmed by these numbers that we’re seeing out of the state.

“Marin is not alone,” Connolly said. “Jurisdictions both large and small from around the region are pushing back. Most recently even San Francisco.”

Connolly made his comments after county supervisors were briefed Tuesday about the status of the mandates… (more)

What if the counties said “no thanks, you can keep your transit funds”? What could the state do other than cut off the funds for the public transit systems they are pushing to force more housing development? Would they run less buses, quit building bike lanes, removing traffic lanes and parking if the funds were cut? rick

Do housing tax credits work as well as they could?

Opinion by Scott Littlehale : sfexaminer – excerpt

In the first half of 2020, investors in Idaho based housing developer Pacific Builders were awarded $200 million in California tax subsidies in exchange for an estimated $179 million in private financing to create new housing units. The company will also get an estimated $46 million in developer fees from these projects.

Nearly half of California’s current annual affordable housing production comes from similar arrangements — a complex Reagan-era financing tool, called Low Income Housing Tax Credits, or LIHTC. LIHTCs are public subsidies — credits against future tax liabilities — that are paid to wealthy private investors who put up the money to create affordable units…

This current formula seems like a great deal for wealthy builders and investors. But it’s simply not working as well as it should for millions of working Californians struggling with housing costs…

To build enough of the housing that California needs now, we should start by examining and reforming the multi-billion dollar financing tools we currently have in place. We must ensure taxpayers are getting more of the housing investments they’ve paid for through tax subsidies to wealthy investors, and reduce the number of housing construction workers that require housing assistance themselves.cCalifornia’s current Low Income Housing Tax Credit system is an ideal candidate for this kind of scrutiny.…(more)

Environmental turnaround — 8 issues that will pivot in California’s favor under Biden

By Kurtis Alexander : sfchronicle – ecerpt

As wildfires, heat waves, water scarcity and threats to wildlife intensify in the West, California’s effort to confront these environmental crises now has support in Washington, a stark change from the past four years.

Even as former President Donald Trump spent his final days in office on the sidelines, lamenting his election loss, his administration continued to roll back environmental conservation and gut climate regulations…(more)

Palo Alto-based NIMBY think tank says Bay Area housing goals are wrong, others call it propaganda

By Aldo Toledo : mercurynews – excerpt

The Embarcadero Institute has been cited by slow-growth cities across California to contest state-mandated housing goals

PALO ALTO — As cities across California fight lofty state-mandated housing goals, many are relying on the research of a nascent housing policy think tank run by Palo Altans with deep pockets and a record of donating to local slow-growth leaders.

From Pasadena and Santa Monica in Southern California to Marin County and affluent Peninsula cities, research by the Palo Alto-based Embarcadero Institute has been cited to counter the legislature’s demands for more housing amid a dire affordability crisis.

Though its founders reject that the institute has any political bent, pro-housing advocates say it is a vocal part of a NIMBY agenda attempting to restrict housing construction in suburban cities…(more)

California Housing Legislation Effective in 2021

Alfred Fraijo Jr., Yue Shi, Kira TeshimaSheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP : jdsupra – excerpt

The California Legislature made modest gains on housing production and stimulus bills in 2020, and there are several notable bills that took effect on January 1, 2021.  The new laws tackle COVID-19, project permit streamlining and planning, residential density bonus, and the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”).  Below is a summary of these new laws.

Additionally, the Legislature is revisiting some of the signature housing production bills that failed in October.  For example, Senate Bill (“SB”) 6 would allow housing developments as a permitted use in commercial zones, and SB 9 would allow for duplexes and lot splits in single-family residential zones to be allowed by-right.  We will continue to monitor their progress and provide updates as soon as we can…(more)

Why Voters Haven’t Been Buying the Case for Building

By Rick Jacobus : shelterforce – excerpt

It’s not because they’re stupid.

Liam Dillon covers the politics of housing policy more closely and thoughtfully than almost any other journalist in the country and yet he was nearly dumbfounded by the results of a recent survey commissioned by his paper, the Los Angeles Times. The Times and researchers from the University of Southern California asked 1,200 California residents about the causes of the housing crisis. Only 13 percent of respondents blamed the crisis on “too little homebuilding.” Twice as many people included “lack of funding for affordable housing” or “lack of rent control” as top explanations for the problem…(more)

Given the enormous gulf between the view of Dillon’s experts and the majority of voters, one reaction that was conspicuously missing from the overall response was curiosity. Isn’t it possible that voters understand something that the experts are overlooking?…

Living with Supply Skepticism

Time and again, housing policy ‘experts’ in this country have helped rationalize and implement policies that enriched property owners and real estate investors at the expense of communities, particularly those of color. We bulldozed people’s homes. We wrote racism into the zoning code. We promoted harmful financing scams. Our collective failure to own up to these past harms is a surprisingly central force driving the current housing shortage. Many people simply aren’t inclined to trust the experts any more.

But it is easy to overlook the many times when the partnership between the public sector and the real estate industry worked the other way. At the beginning of the 20th century, most Americans lived without indoor plumbing, fires regularly leveled whole neighborhoods, and substandard and overcrowded housing was a major contributor to deadly epidemics. Private builders all but eliminated some of those concerns from our public life. Builders didn’t install fire-rated walls or sprinkler systems to save money. They did it because laws informed by the experts made them. Homebuilders didn’t invent the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage to help middle-income people afford homes. Experts inside the federal government did.

Urban voters aren’t likely to embrace a strategy of getting out of the way and letting the market do its magic. Many are inclined, instead, to stand in the way to keep the market from doing harm. But if we were more honest about the limitations of the market, it would be easier to convince people that local governments can hold private development accountable for delivering benefits to people who are being left out…(more)

California Legislators ignore New Normal

Op-Ed by zrants

Tents in an alley off Mission Street in SF, were the only sign of humanity on a Sunday drive through SOMA, where a stench filled the air coming from the area around the Transbay Terminal.

Sacramento Politicians roll out more density bills – Ignoring exodus of jobs and workers for greener pastures.

California residents may pick your side in the NIMBY YIMBY WIMBY wars, but you better think fast. As the California legislature reconvenes in 2021 during the second year of COVID they seem hell bent on ignoring the reality we are living in. Remind you of anyone?

California politicians are pushing the same tired excuses they used to densify communities before density lost its luster and the economy shifted to a work-at-home model that allows people to live however and wherever the prefer. They are ignoring the huge glut of abandoned offices, commercial, and residential units in the newly densified city neighborhoods, pressing for more of same.

Last year our pro-development senators pushed heights to the limit. This year they are pushing density on the horizontal plane, laying claim to any open space with a blade of grass or tree still standing.

First they are going after our private yards, claiming that all people living in single family homes are racist, greedy, evil people who should be forced to “share” their private yards with at least 8 or 9 other households. By some counts that is 70% of the state’s population. They want to split the lots and fill the yards with housing, even where there is no street access for construction or emergency access. Who needs a backyard when you can play in the streets after they remove street parking.

Next they will try to force communities to give up any public open space deemed “under-utilized” or “blight”. In their perfect world the state will determine which sites fall under that definition. Developers will not be happy until they have the right to cover every square foot of what is left of public open space, starting with parking lots and moving into areas connected to parks and other formerly sacrosanct spaces, like refuges, habitats and shorelines.

As communities face difficult budget decision, they will be encouraged to sell off their “under-utilized” open space, often for far less than it is worth.

Watch SB 9 and SB 10 as the media introduces them. Comments on Livable California:

• SB 9 (Atkins) Ends single-family zoning. Identical to SB 1120, the false “duplex” bill. The facts: where 1 house now sits, developers can buy it and build 6-units to 8 units. Impacts 21M homeowners. Strongly Oppose. The public must try to bring numerous inaccurate journalists up to speed.

SB 10 (Wiener) This SB 902 lookalike bill lets cities ignore CEQA to allow 10-unit pricey market-rate apartments almost anywhere, Wiener’s obsession for three years. And it allows a City Council to override voter-approved initiatives, an attack on our 108-year-old right to initiative. Strongly Oppose.

This article was inspired by The Only Thing Worse Than A NIMBY Is A YIMBY, By Nathan J. Robinson posted on currentaffairs.comCurrent Affairs magazine comes out strongly opposing yimbyism/developer-controlled zoning— We understand the twittering yimbys are not happy with the article!

The Only Thing Worse Than A NIMBY Is A YIMBY

By Nathan J. Robinson : currentaffairs – excerpt

Nobody likes a NIMBY. The “Not In My Backyard” resident is the one who objects to the building of a homeless shelter or methadone clinic in their neighborhood, because it will negatively affect their property values and possibly bring them into contact with the poor…

Enter the YIMBYs. They define themselves as taking the opposite approach: instead of saying “not in my backyard,” they say “yes in my backyard.” The YIMBYs’ number one demand is to build more housing. The organization YIMBY Action describes itself as: … a network of pro-housing activists fighting for more inclusive housing policies and a future of abundant housing. We drive policy change to increase the supply of housing at all levels and bring down the cost of living in opportunity-rich cities and towns…

California YIMBY has a similarly innocuous pitch: We work with housing policy experts, elected officials, and grassroots organizations across California to craft and pass legislation at the state and local level that will help accelerate home building, solve the affordable housing crisis, and reduce climate pollution… (more)

Current Affairs magazine comes out strongly opposing yimbyism/developer-controlled zoning— The twittering yimbys are not happy with the article!

California residents may pick your side in the NIMBY YIMBY WIMBY wars, but you better think fast. As the California legislature reconvenes in 2021 during the second year of COVID they seem hell bent on ignoring the reality we are living in. Remind you of anyone?

Do Conservation Easements Provide Effective Mitigation for Loss of Farmland to Development?

jdsupra – excerpt

In 2018, the CEQA Guideline which defines the term “mitigation” was amended to add “conservation easements” to the list of measures that can provide “compensatory” mitigation for an environmental impact.Guideline §15370(e). The amendment was intended to resolve a debate about whether conservation easements over off-site farmland can provide a means to mitigate not only the cumulative and indirect impacts of converting farmland to other uses, but also the direct impact of the loss of the farmland on the project site.

In a recent court of appeal decision, King & Gardiner Farms v County of Kern (2020) 45 CA5th 814, the court held that a measure requiring conservation easements over off-site farmland would not provide adequate mitigation for the loss of farmland that would result from the project. The court reasoned that conservation easements do not compensate for the impact of converting farmland to another use because they do not create new farmland to offset the loss of the converted farmland(more)

Martinez Council Pursues Small Business Microgrants, Backs Cap On Food Delivery Fees

By Bay City News Service : cbslocal – excerpt

MARTINEZ (CBS SF) – A microgrant program to help Martinez small businesses and offering support for a Contra Costa County-wide cap on what food delivery services like DoorDash and GrubHub are among the measures Martinez leaders hope to approve this month.

On Wednesday, the City Council discussed possible updates and expansion of existing measures to help small businesses ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief among those steps was creating a microgrant program, using $350,000 to $400,000 from the city’s “economic uncertainty” reserves…(more)

Other distribution methods under consideration:

Albertsons is testing automated pickup kiosks

By Catherine Douglas Moran : grocerydive – excerpt

  • Albertsons has installed an automated pickup kiosk at a Jewel-Osco store in Chicago, the grocer announced Thursday, and plans to install another kiosk at a Safeway store in San Francisco in the near future.
  • The kiosks, which are manufactured by Estonia-based Cleveron, hold products in two temperature zones — regular and deep freeze. Shoppers designate a two-hour pickup window when ordering and then scan a code at the machine when they arrive to receive their groceries.
  • The latest move furthers the grocery company’s efforts to expand its click-and-collect offerings, especially self-serve pickup, as online demand remains high. In October, Albertsons began testing pickup lockers at several Jewel-Osco stores in Chicago…(more)
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