California’s housing wars just starting

By Editorial Board : sfchronicle – excerpt

The Legislature’s long-delayed response to California’s housing crisis narrowly passed in September in a flurry of last-minute nail-biting and arm-twisting. Judging by the reception that has greeted one of the new year’s first housing bills, that was nothing.

The legislation, by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, would overrule local zoning in favor of high-density residential development near mass transit. Sounds wonky enough, but fans of the idea have already declared that it would “change the shape of California housing” and, indeed, solve the housing crisis. Detractors, meanwhile, called it a “declaration of war on every urban community in California,” comparing it to the law that enabled Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears; and even posited that transit officials have been running empty buses up and down Berkeley’s Ashby Avenue just so developers can have their way with the surrounding neighborhoods once the bill becomes law…

A recent impasse over rent-control expansion in Chiu’s committee means a ballot-measure fight over the issue could be the backdrop of any debate over housing in the Legislature. The prospect of such an ultimately counterproductive response to the crisis makes legislators’ task that much more important…

It’s a problem that won’t be solved readily or easily, but the debate itself is yielding signs of progress. Officials in Brisbane, who have for years rejected a proposal to build thousands of homes on a closely watched site in San Francisco’s shadow, decided to reconsider this week, citing the mere “threat of … legislative action.”… (more)

The article makes no mention of the major cost of living increases that accompany the unlimited growth doctrine, pushed by Scott Wiener in SB 827, that is threatening the security of the middle class, gentrifying our neighborhoods, and pushing many people out of their homes onto the sidewalks and closing many businesses.

State control over local governments and land use is no more welcome than federal mandates on the states. Citizens want to control their lives and any government interference is unwelcome no matter what the excuse. Recall efforts are underway to replace at least one state legislator and more are threatened by angry constituents.

San Francisco’s former Mayor Newsom who is running for governor should not count on support from the home town he is suing over the right to override their waterfront decisions by claiming they are too stupid to manage their waterfront. (We understand this is one argument his attorney used for why the state should take back control of development of the waterfront the state handed over to the city to manage a few years ago.)

Voters are taxed out. An anti-tax movement is sweeping through the liberal political spectrum that normally supports raising taxes for social causes. Bills such as SB-827 that link dense development to transit rich corridors may turn off funding for public transportation as communities that oppose dense housing mandates strive to avoid being labeled transit rich. This sets up an interesting dynamic that unites the efforts of people fighting gentrification with those opposed to the policies of the SFMTA. This result in big changes at City Hall as well as in Sacramento, where the real damage is being done.

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Trial begins over SF waterfront height limits as state seeks to overturn Prop. B

By Michael Barba : sfeaminer – excerpt

A trial that will determine whether San Francisco voters will be stripped of their power to decide how tall developers can build along the waterfront began Wednesday with an attorney questioning the decision-making ability of voters…

The State Lands Commission, which manages public land in California including the waterfront and is chaired by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, sued San Francisco over the ballot measure that year.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos must now decide whether to invalidate Prop. B.

Jacobs argued that voters are too uneducated on ballot issues to decide the future of major development projects and limited in their ability to tweak the projects by either voting yes or no on a project. Instead, Jacobs said the Port Commission should be in charge of waterfront height limits…(more)

Are the stupid San Francisco citizens dumb  enough to vote for a former mayor who sues and insults them while he is running for office? The power grabs are coming at us from the top down brigade.

“They are attempting to put the very notion that citizens in California have a right to govern themselves on trial,” Golinger told the San Francisco Examiner…(more)

 

Mountain View approves nearly 10,000 homes by Google’s North Bayshore project

by Janice Bitters : bizjournals – excerpt

Mountain View’s North Bayshore Precise Plan got a unanimous stamp of approval early Wednesday morning, a culmination of more than six years of planning and nearly three years of public meetings.

The vote, taken shortly after midnight, came after City Council members worked for hours ironing out the fine details of a plan that readies the area — home to search giant Google — for a wide array of new uses, including nearly 10,000 new homes.

A cast of regional planning and development leaders showed up to voice support for the plan or witness its passage, including representatives from Google, prolific South Bay developer Sobrato Organization, Foster City-based affordable housing developer MidPen Housing and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

“I think this is a cutting-edge plan that sets a standard not just for the Bay Area, but for much of the country,” Mountain View Vice Mayor Lenny Siegel said minutes before the vote. “We aren’t just building housing, we are building it the right way to create a new kind of community for our area.”… (more)

Careful what you wish for. You just might get it. Looks like the “live near your work” experiment jut got a shot in the arm. Will the folks who work at Google live next it the campus the way the developers plan or will the housing go to non-workers? Some day we will find out.

California regulators hope new rules will spur more bike lanes, housing near transit

By Liam Dillon : latimes – excerpt

Bike lanes, mixed-use residential and commercial construction near transit and other development projects might get easier to build in California after regulators on Monday released a long-awaited overhaul of the state’s environmental law.

Regulators say the proposed changes, which modify rules under the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA, will help the state meet its ambitious goals to combat climate change. That law requires developers to disclose and minimize a project’s impact on the environment…

“These rules make clear that reducing vehicle miles resulting from projects is a state goal and an environmental benefit,” said Ken Alex, director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, in a statement.

Modifications to CEQA are often politically fraught because numerous powerful interest groups, including builders, environmentalists and unions, have significant stakes in how the existing process works…

Regulators are opening public comment on the CEQA overhaul in the coming weeks and will hold at least one public hearing before the proposal becomes final, according to a spokeswoman for the California Natural Resources Agency. Regulators are hoping the new rules will go into effect sometime in 2018… (more)

This article that ran in the LA Times holds very little useful information. If this is the future of the news we are in trouble. (This happens to be the first story I have seen since the Sales of Times to Meredith was announced.)

Regulators don’t overhaul CEQA laws. Legislators do. This appears to refer to a bill that has not yet passed, with no reference to the identity of the bill, the author, or Committee the bill is in or came out of. There is no indication of where in the process the bill is now. This looks like a PR piece not a news article.

Governor Brown Vetoes CEQA Bill That Would Mandate Lead Agencies To File NOEs For Projects Approved As Categorically Exempt

By Miller Starr Regalia : jdsupra – excerpt

On October 15, 2017, Governor  Brown vetoed SB 80 (Wieckowski), a bill that would have added to CEQA’s already detailed notice requirements.

Specifically, SB 80 would have amended Public Resources Code §§ 21092.2, 21092.3, 21108 and 21152 so as to require, inter alia, that state and local lead agencies:  (1) offer to provide scoping notices, notices of preparation, and notices of determination by email to persons so requesting; (2) post all such notices on the agency’s website (if any); and (3) file with OPR or the County Clerk, as applicable, all Notices of Exemption (NOEs) for approved projects found exempt pursuant to the categorical exemptions contained in the CEQA Guidelines (as opposed to other possible bases for exemption).

The bill would have also required county clerks to post on their counties’ Internet Web sites EIR scoping notices and notices of preparation for EIRs and negative declarations, for specified periods… (more)

Prop. 54: A Ballot Initiative That Worked

By Atlas Novack : smmirror – excerpt

There’s nothing politicians and lobbyists in this state hate more than the ballot initiative process to which they all pay hypocritical verbal homage every chance they get.

It’s easy to see why they don’t like lawmaking by the public, the essence of initiatives: The process takes important issues out of their hands. It can alter their working conditions in ways they don’t like.

Sure, politicians will occasionally make use of initiatives, as Republican businessman John Cox and Orange County GOP Assemblyman Travis Allen are doing now in making pet initiatives the centerpieces of their underdog campaigns for governor. Cox is pushing a measure to multiply by 1,000 the number of state legislators, while Allen has virtually appropriated the effort to repeal the state’s new gas tax increase…

But politicians generally hate ballot initiatives unless they’re making such use of them. Brown, for example, opposed the landmark 1978 Proposition 13 property tax cuts because they interfered with his own efforts at tax reform. Most legislators fought tooth and nail against Proposition 20, which created the Coastal Commission and has limited development near beaches and view areas.

But it’s hard to find an initiative that has affected legislators more than Proposition 54, which passed just over one year ago and requires that proposed laws cannot be passed unless they’ve been available in print or via the Internet for at least 72 hours before passage.

Because of Prop. 54, voters could see the final form of Brown’s proposal for California to join a Western regional electricity grid before it actually passed, rather than having to react after the fact as has happened with many last-minute bills in recent years. Because of that notice and the possibility this plan might cause a new energy crunch, opponents could organize loud protests and the proposition died – for now…

No one can be sure just how many lousy measures Prop. 54 spared Californians, because the notorious gut-and-amend proposals that have been common in recent decades were drastically lessened this fall. In that process, legislative proposals which already have a name and number have often been totally changed to cover subjects unrelated to those affected by the original bill. When that’s done at the last moment, the public has no chance for any input… (more)