Housing bill could result in 85-foot tall buildings on El Camino

By Elaine Goodman : dailypost – excerpt

A bill introduced in the California Legislature would ease restrictions on housing projects built near transit — bypassing some of the controls over such development by the cities in which they would be built.

Senate Bill 827, introduced last month by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, would remove density limits and parking requirements for housing built close to transit.

It would also set minimum height limits that cities could impose for such development, ranging from 45 feet to 85 feet in some circumstances. A city could increase that height but not go below it…

According to Wiener’s website, the bill is sponsored by a group called California YIMBY, which stands for “Yes in my backyard.”….

City governments oppose the bill

The League of California Cities opposes SB 827, saying it would undermine locally developed general plans (called the Comp Plan in Palo Alto), housing plans and development restrictions… (more)

Opposition from irate citizens around the state convinced the senator to amend SB827, but Many people object to any further interference from the state in local zoning and planning matters under local jurisdiction. Stay tuned for updates as more bills are pouring in. (Technically, the 85 foot buildings could be over 100 feet if the state density bonus is applied to the 85 feet.)

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Proposed CEQA Guideline for Highway Projects Promises Flexibility In the Measurement of Traffic Impacts, But Delivers Ambiguity

By: Robert D. Thornton, Benjamin Z. Rubin, Liz Klebaner : 

In response to material opposition from many of the transportation agencies in the State, the California Natural Resources Agency  has proposed to provide transportation agencies with the discretion to determine the metric for evaluating traffic impacts of highways and road projects.  Unfortunately, instead of putting the issue to bed, the proposed regulation introduces considerable ambiguity that will likely lead to a CEQA challenge if any project EIR relies solely on Level of Service (LOS) to evaluate the significance of traffic impacts.  The proposed regulation states:

For roadway capacity projects, agencies have discretion to determine the appropriate measure of transportation impact consistent with CEQA and other applicable requirements. 

The language “consistent with CEQA and other applicable requirements” arguably creates ambiguity as to whether transportation agencies may rely solely on measures of traffic congestion such as LOS to determine the significance of traffic impacts, or whether the State’s climate change legislation mandates a “Vehicle Miles Traveled” (VMT) analysis.

As we have previously reported, the proposed SB 743 implementing regulation represents a paradigm shift in the evaluation of transportation impacts of road and development projects, by replacing the traffic congestion-based LOS metric with the VMT metric.  With VMT, the very acts of driving a vehicle or inducing vehicle travel by improving roadway infrastructure is an environmental impact requiring analysis and potentially mitigation.  The proposed regulation generally removes traffic congestion from the required scope of a CEQA impacts analyses… (more)

Scott Wiener’s war on local planning

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

His next round of housing bills force cities to accept growth and displacement—without giving them the money or tools to mitigate it

On January 19, I attended UCLA Extension’s 2018 Land Use Law and Planning Conference at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Seated in long rows of tables under the glittering chandeliers of the hotel’s Crystal Ballroom, hundreds of elected and appointed public officials, developers, attorneys, and consultants are annually briefed by sharp pro-growth land-use lawyers and other like-minded experts on the latest California land-use legislation and case law.

This year the star of the show was State Senator Scott Wiener. He earned that role by authoring SB 35, the controversial “by-right” housing bill that Governor Brown signed into law in September. Like his fellow Yimbys, Wiener believes in a supply-side, build-baby-build solution to California’s housing woes and blames those woes on local jurisdictions’ resistance to new residential development. He presents himself as a brave policymaker who grapples with hard issues that others have dodged—an image belied by his evasive responses to my questions…

SB 827

Drafted by California Yimby Executive Director Brian Hanlon, and coauthored by State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), SB 827 would prohibit cities from limiting heights to lower than 45 feet (six stories) or 85 feet (eight stories)—depending on the width of the street—on parcels within a half-mile of a “major transit stop” or a quarter-mile of “a high-quality transit corridor.” For such parcels, SB 827 would also suspend local parking minimums, density restrictions, and “any design standard that restricts the applicant’s ability to construct the maximum number of units consistent with any applicable building code.”…

SB 828

Wiener’s companion bill, SB 828, would exponentially increase both cities’ Regional Housing Needs Allocations (RHNAs) and state authority over local land use planning. I’m going to review the bill in wonky detail, because though SB 827 has gotten the lion’s share of publicity, support, and pushback, SB 828 is likely to have at least as much impact… (more)

Lots of details are covered in the article. Please read the entire story.

We attended the Town Hall Meeting, along with a group of citizens from Marin and Senator Wiener’s district 8 Noe Valley neighborhood. We’ll post a link to the video that was shot of the meeting, and anticipate more from Zelda on this subject.

A lively opposition group is already being formed to fight this legislation that grabs power from local governments and centralizes controls over local zoning. Many people who support development do not support this power grab from the state.

Opposition to Wiener’s SB 827 is growing as more people learn about his DANGEROUS NEW LEGISLATION!

Urgent Alert – Senator Scott Wiener’s proposed legislation, Senate Bill 827, stands to up-zone ALL of San Francisco:

It would allow development in “transit-rich” areas
to go up from 40 feet to 55 feet and even 85 feet in many areas!

Virtually all San Francisco neighborhoods qualify as “transit-rich.”
See for yourself here.

Imagine buildings almost twice as high as they are now along Dolores Street and possibly Church Street.  Imagine adding several stories to buildings on more narrow streets like 24th Street or Elizabeth Street.  Imagine not being able to argue against these behemoths.  Imagine more evictions to make way for development.

S.B. 827 does nothing to help San Francisco’s housing problem.  It’s just another bonus to developers without any increase in affordable units.
Senator Wiener, will hold a Town Hall meeting on this coming Saturday, February 3, 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. at the Taraval Police Station.  Be there to tell him:
We still live here!
Don’t threaten our homes and our neighborhood!
Don’t evict our tenants!
No more give-aways to developers!
You also can call his office at (415) 557-1300 or email to http://sd11.senate.ca.gov/contact to voice your opposition.
Please join us in standing up for our neighborhood.
We’ll see you there!

My Transit Density Bill (SB 827)

By Scott Wienermarketurbanismreport – excerpt

Answering Common Questions and Debunking Misinformation A summary of California’s SB827, which will allow more housing near transit corridors.

Our recent announcement of my bill (Senate Bill 827) allowing for more housing near public transportation has drawn a lot of attention, questions, and feedback. Sadly, some have also spread misinformation about the bill. This piece attempts to answer common questions and debunk misinformation.

California is in a deep housing crisis — threatening our state’s environment, economy, diversity, and quality of life — and needs an enormous amount of additional housing at all income levels. Mid-rise housing (i.e., not single-family homes and not high rises) near public transportation is an equitable, sustainable, and promising source for new housing. SB 827 promotes this kind of housing by prohibiting density restrictions (for example, local ordinances mandating only single-family homes) within a half mile of a major transit station or a quarter mile of a bus stop on a frequent bus line. The bill also sets the maximum zoned height in these areas at 45, 55, or 85 feet — that is, between 4 and 8 stories— depending on the nature of the street. (Those heights are maximums. Developers can choose to build shorter, but cities can’t force them to build shorter through restrictive zoning. Cities can allow taller heights, however.)… (more)

Upcoming events will give you a chance to let the Senator know how you feel about this bill and his work on removing local zoning jurisdiction on land use and transportation issues. Stay tuned…

 

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.

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)

Office of Planning and Research Releases Updated General Plan Guidelines

pillsbury : jdsupra – excerpt

On August 2, 2017, the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (“OPR”) released its first update to the General Plan Guidelines (the “Guidelines”) since 2003. The Guidelines provide guidance to cities and counties throughout California on the preparation and content of their General Plans, which govern land uses and zoning within their jurisdictions. The updated Guidelines contain new recommended policies, information resources, and  reflect recent legislation regarding General Plans.

Under Government Code section 65300, cities and counties must adopt and periodically update their General Plans. The process can be costly and time consuming, which tends to discourage frequent updates, especially by small municipalities with limited resources… (more)

Housing crisis: Will California force its cities to OK more building?

By Katy Murphy : mercurynews – excerpt

State lawmakers are desperate to address a statewide problem that has been decades in the making.

Amid a housing crisis that is displacing the poor and forcing millennials and countless others to look outside the Bay Area to live, all eyes turned this week to the tiny Peninsula town of Brisbane where a developer wants to build thousands of homes on a 684-acre swath of wasteland.

Powerful tech companies, state lawmakers and pro-growth activists from around the region implored the City Council on Monday to allow housing on land once used as a rail yard and a landfill ​— an idea many residents oppose. But after hearing passionate arguments from both sides, the City Council shelved the decision, prolonging a land-use debate that has dragged on since 2005….

In the nine-county Bay Area, the median price for a single-family home has topped $800,000. And nearly one-third of renters statewide — 1.5 million households — spend more than half their income on rent, according to state estimates

As soon as next week, lawmakers are expected to unveil a package of affordable-housing bills that will include new tools to prod cities and counties to add their share of housing — at least, in theory.

“I think that many of my colleagues understand that individual decisions by city councils and boards of supervisors are having an extremely negative and detrimental impact on our region,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, a former San Francisco supervisor who chairs the Assembly’s housing committee. “When you have so many decisions going the wrong way on proposed housing that meets all local laws and planning and zoning requirements we have to do something different.”

But none of the pending housing bills — as written — would immediately force the city of Brisbane’s hand. And some cities have flouted existing laws with similar goals….

A more controversial proposal, Senate Bill 35, by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, would speed up the approval process for housing developments — limiting local reviews — in cities and counties that have failed to meet state goals for home-building.

Gov. Jerry Brown has made it clear that he will only sign a deal with money for affordable housing if it includes provisions to fast-track development — which, he argues, will make housing construction cheaper and quicker… (more)

A number of lawsuits are being waged by both sides of the density debate and a few of them are mentioned in this article for those who want to delve deeper. Interesting to note is the mention of the nine-county area that many recognize as the counties in the Plan Bay Area.

The argument is largely over local versus state jurisdiction. Our Governor and Lt. Governor are suing SF for the right to develop the city waterfront. What does this tell you about the pressure coming out of Sacramento? Perhaps we need to involve the citizens in a state-wide ballot over the loss of their rights.