Palo Alto’s regional influence grows; Mayor elected vice president of ABAG

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY : padailypost – excerpt

Palo Alto’s regional voice on housing matters has been amplified with the election of Mayor Greg Scharff as vice president of the Association of Bay Area Governments, or ABAG. “We’re actually a regional player at the moment,” Scharff told the Post Thursday (Nov. 16).

Scharff pulled in 123 votes from Bay Area City Council members and county supervisors, more than his two opponents combined…

Scharff also chairs the enforcement committee of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and serves on the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority…

Housing quotas

ABAG administers the Regional Housing Needs Allocation, quotas for cities to zone new housing that are set by the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development.
“I think the system is a little bit broken, frankly,” Scharff said.

Scharff said there’s some movement toward forming a Santa Clara County subregion committee, in which cities could redistribute housing allocations among themselves.

That way, cities could trade, for example, a certain number of affordable units for a certain number of moderately priced units with neighboring cities.

Currently, Napa, San Mateo and Solano counties have subregion committees…

“I think you want cities to want to build housing, and I think when you have the state say, ‘you must build ‘x’ amount of housing, you build up a lot of resentment,” Scharff said.

In 2013, Scharff was one of a handful of local officials to vote against the ABAG-Metropolitan Transportation Commission One Bay Area Plan, which required the region’s 101 cities to pave the way for 600,000 new apartments...

Protecting single-family homes

Scharff said he still stood behind the vote. Any push for more housing doesn’t have to be met with high-rise buildings, either.

“I don’t think you just want a wall of apartments along El Camino Real,” he said. Scharff said new apartments don’t have to jut into single-family residential neighborhoods, citing the recent update of the Comprehensive Plan’s support for these areas…

“I think we obviously need to build more housing as a region, but I think there’s a lot of local issues that should be taken into account,” Scharff said… (more)

 

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First District Affirms CEQA Exemptions and General Plan Consistency Finding For Three-Unit Infill Condo Project on San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill

 By Miller Starr Regalia : lexology – excerpt

While “agree[ing] with appellant that Telegraph Hill is outstanding and unique in a city of outstanding and unique places[,]” the First District Court of Appeal nonetheless affirmed the trial court’s order denying plaintiff/appellant neighborhood group’s mandamus petition challenging the City of San Francisco’s approval of a 3-unit condominium project there on CEQA and general plan consistency grounds. Protect Telegraph Hill v. City and County of San Francisco (2017) ___ Cal.App.5th ___. In a 15-page opinion originally filed September 14, but belatedly ordered published on October 13, 2017, the Court upheld the City’s findings that the project, which involved renovation of an existing deteriorated small cottage and construction of a new 3-dwelling unit residential structure, was categorically exempt from CEQA and consistent with the City’s general plan and planning code…

Key takeways from the Court of Appeal’s opinion include:…(more)

Governor Brown Vetoes Flawed AB 890, Signals Preference for More Comprehensive CEQA Reform

Miller Starr Regalia : lexology – excerpt

Fortunately, Governor Brown was receptive to the bill’s many critics, and struck a blow for local land use control, local initiative rights, CEQA reform and commence sense by vetoing it. His short letter to Assembly members, which can be found here, states in pertinent part that “[i]nstead of the piecemeal approach taken in this bill, I prefer a more comprehensive CEQA review, which takes into account both the urgent need for more housing and thoughtful environmental analysis. Hear, hear!…(more)

RELATED:
The Opposite of CEQA Reform: Legally Flawed AB 890 Would Expand Opportunities For CEQA Litigation Abuse While Abridging Constitutional Local Initiative Rights,”
by Arthur F. Coon and Bryan W. Wenter, AICP, posted September 19, 2017.)

Redondo Beach, Legado reach settlement over controversial mixed-use project

SF halts Mission housing development over ‘bulky’ design

By Michael Barba : sfexaminer – excerpt

The “bulky” design of a mostly market-rate housing development slated to span several lots of Mission Street prevented the project from moving forward at the Planning Commission last week.

The development would take advantage of the state density bonus law allowing developers to build denser and taller than typically permitted in exchange for on-site affordable housing.

It would rise eight stories near Mission and 25th streets and bring 75 units of housing to the neighborhood, including eight units rented at below-market-rate prices. The project is also just a block away from the 24th Street BART Station and has spots for bicycles rather than car parking.

But several commissioners were troubled by the size and design of the proposal, which would replace a laundromat and outdoor parking lot on three lots of Mission Street.

“It’s just basically plopping a foreign object into this area and not thinking about its consequences,” said Commissioner Kathrin Moore.

The commission unanimously voted last Thursday to delay a decision on the project until late November, asking the developer to redraw the plans as multiple buildings rather than one… (more)

 

Don’t bend California’s environmental rules for billionaire sports owners or the Olympics

Editorial by The Times Editorial Board : latimes – excerpt

California lawmakers are — again — considering a last-minute bill that would let deep-pocketed developers and favored projects cut corners on the state’s landmark environmental law.

Last week Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) introduced a bill that was pitched as a way to dramatically speed the construction of transit lines and parking lots needed for the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028. Bradford’s big idea? Exempting the projects from all the studies and public input required by the California Environmental Quality Act. The primary beneficiaries of Senate Bill 789, however, would be the proposed Clippers arena and other projects in Inglewood’s sports and entertainment district… (more)

Cadiz Stock Soars 31 Percent After Bill to Stop Water Project Fails

By Howard Fine : capoliticalreview – excerpt

Shares of downtown water company Cadiz Inc. soared 31 percent Tuesday on a double dose of good news: a bill aimed at stopping its desert water project failed to clear a Senate committee late Friday, and a federal agency signaled it may allow the proposal to move forward.

The bill, AB 1000, by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, specifically targeted the Cadiz water pumping and transfer project, requiring an additional state agency approval before the project could go forward. It was viewed as a last-ditch attempt by project opponents to block it.

But the bill failed to clear the Senate Appropriations Committee by Friday’s legislative deadline… (more)

In this case the CEQA case was brought by the state against a private party with access to water on private land who wants the right to manage the water resources under its property, and the court ruled against the state.

Environmental Report: Legalization not harmful

By Chris Conrad : theleafonline – excerpt

The Bureau of Cannabis Control announced the conclusion of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Proposed Program study on September 6, 2017 regarding implementation of Proposition 64, and the news so far is good for the legalization movement.

As the lead agency under CEQA, the Bureau prepared an Initial Study/Proposed Negative Declaration (IS/ND) for its proposed regulatory program. Based on the findings of the IS/ND, the Bureau has determined that the Proposed Program would not have any significant effects on the environment, said Alex Traverso, who works with the BCC. Public hearings will follow…(more)

California lawmakers pitch a break from a key environmental law to help L.A. Olympic bid, Clippers arena

By Liam Dillon : latimes – excerpt

California lawmakers introduced legislation Friday to bypass a key state environmental law that would dramatically ease the construction of rail, bus and other transit projects connected to Los Angeles’ bid to host the Olympic Games in 2028.

Under the bill, any public transportation effort related to the city’s Olympics bid would be exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, the state’s primary environmental law governing development. The law, known as CEQA, requires developers to disclose and minimize a project’s impact on the environment, often a time-consuming and costly process that involves litigation…

The measure, Senate Bill 789, also provides major CEQA relief to help the construction of an NBA arena for the Los Angeles Clippers in nearby Inglewood.

If it passes, the bill would speed transit officials’ attempts to build rail and bus lines in advance of the 2028 Olympic Games while also providing a boost to the arena’s chances at getting completed. Doing so, however, would cut through longstanding regulations that environmentalists and community activists in California have held as sacrosanct to preserving the state’s natural beauty and involving residents in the development process… (more)

Fourth Appellate District Upholds City of San Diego’s Rejection of Subdivision Project and Related MND

By Donald Sobelman : jdsupra – excerpt

CEQA decisions usually arise in the context of a challenge to a lead agency’s approval of a project and a related CEQA document.  However, in a recent decision, Kutzke v. City of San Diego (2017) 11 Cal.App.5th 1034 (certified for publication on May 23, 2017), the Fourth Appellate District resolved a court action arising from a lead agency’s rejection of a project and its MND, and did so in favor of the lead agency… (more)

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