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.

Brown’s blunder down under

Editorials : Guest Opinion: By Andy Caldwell : capoliticalreview – excerpt
Please note the story originated on a site that is now a private site, so the linked version is coming from a secondary site. As net neutrality loses out we will see a lot more of these secondary stories. This one may be purchased for $2.50.

The biggest news story last week appeared in the classifieds. The legal notice declared a summons for all interested persons to appear in court in Sacramento as a defendant in a lawsuit. The lawsuit names the California Department of Water Resources vs. All Persons Interested in the matter of the Authorization of California Water Fix Revenue Bonds. That would be you.

Translation? Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to finance his Twin Tunnels project by way of a lawsuit. Each tunnel would be 150 feet below ground, 40 feet in diameter and 30 miles in length. The tunnel project would be as big a project as the English Channel tunnel and as big a boondoggle as Boston’s Big Dig…

Whereas most everyone agrees the Delta needs fixing, there is little agreement that the Twin Tunnels are the right fix. Hence, Mr. Brown is trying to move forward with this project by way of a lawsuit, which seeks to validate his authority to proceed without either voter, legislative or rate-payer approval…

I am very much afraid that Gov. Brown will actually make water less available due to the expense of this project, as it will make the state water unaffordable, leading to the cancellation of state water contracts. This will not just affect the parties that rely on state water directly. For instance, in Santa Maria, if state water becomes unaffordable, that means the city may end up using more groundwater than they do now. That will affect the water supply available to farmers.

Andy Caldwell is the executive director of COLAB and host of The Andy Caldwell Radio Show, weekdays from 3-5 p.m., on News-Press Radio AM 1290... (more)

This article is brought to you with the comments below based on our best knowledge of the situation. If anyone has better detailed information we will include that in a latter post.

All we know is that islands are being bought in the Delta by private corporations who may represent entities who want to claim riparian rights to the water in the Delta while farmers and others with water wells are being told their water rights may no longer hold for the water they are pumping on their land. If anyone has any other information on this subject, please let us know.

Meanwhile the city of San Francisco is starting to pump water to blend into the drinking water that they have been taking from Hetch Hetchy and residents are concerned about the quality and safety of this blended product.

People are switching to bottled water after recent attempts to make a big deal out of the great quality of the city’s Hetch Hetchy water supply, financial and legal constraints were enacted to convince people to drink tap water instead of bottled water. Now those constraints need to be removed since the water is no longer exclusively Hetch Hetchy, and some people with compromised health conditions will need to be careful with the blend.

This is especially important now that herbicides and other poisons are getting into our water system from such projects as the Beach Chalet. The voters approved the use of carcinogenic by-products that will leach into the soil near one of the aquifers on the west side.

 

Man Sues LA Over Parking Ticket, Gets 650,000 Payout

codecprime – excerpt

A man’s legal fight over a parking ticket he received three years ago ended successfully when the Los Angeles City Council approved a $650,000 payout to him on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

Cody Weiss sued the city back in 2014 after he got a parking ticket. He argued that the city unlawfully permits private for profit companies to process challenges to tickets, NBC4 reports.

Last year a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled in his favor and that decision was also upheld by the Second District Court of Appeal…

“The city and Xerox have been in violation of the law since 1995 when the law changed,” Marker added.

Mike Feur, an attorney for the city petitioned the California Supreme Court to review the decision over the parking ticket, but the state’s high court denied that petition in November, according to Fox News.

The high court upheld the lower court’s decision, which ordered LA to change its practice in allowing Xerox to handle all parking ticket challenges… (more)

DWR Certifies EIR for WaterFix, Triggering 30-Day Deadline for Opponents to File Suit

by Downey Brand LLP : dsupra – excerpt

On July 21, 2017, the California Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) certified the final environmental document and issued its Notice of Determination for the California WaterFix, a significant new water infrastructure component proposed by DWR and United States Bureau of Reclamation. DWR’s action triggered a 30-day statute of limitations to raise CEQA challenges to the project, which has been the subject of steadily accelerating public discussion and debate over the last two years…

WaterFix, sometimes referred to as the Delta Tunnels, would divert water from the northern Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta just south of Sacramento, under water right permits held by DWR and Reclamation. According to its advocates, WaterFix is intended to improve and update the existing Delta conveyance systems, while preserving the vulnerable species populations that rely on Delta waters…

The approval is one of several required before the WaterFix project can move forward…

Our CEQA attorneys are carefully tracking these legal developments, and will offer thoughts and analysis in future alerts as this situation (and the complicated legal issues surrounding it) evolves… (more)

Assembly passes bill to limit land-use ballot initiatives

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Chiu, Ting both vote for measure that raises the threshold for citizen initiatives on development to 55 percent.

A bill that would make it harder for local residents to pass ballot measures limiting development has passed the state Assembly with almost no opposition – and so far, with almost no discussion in San Francisco, where citizen initiatives have been a powerful tool against an industry that often controls City Hall.

AB 943, by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, was directly aimed at the growth-limiting Measure S in Los Angeles. But it could have sweeping impacts on cities and counties all over the state.

The measure would raise the threshold to 55 percent for any community-based ballot measure that would “reduce density or stop development or construction of any parcels located less than one mile from a transit stop.”

That’s all of San Francisco… (more)

Continue reading

Proposed legislation calls for more affordable overnight accommodations along the California coast

By Dan Weikel : latimes – excerpt

Going to the beach may become more affordable if state legislators pass an Assembly bill introduced this week to increase inexpensive lodging along the coast.

The measure by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-Chula Vista) calls on the California State Coastal Conservancy to create a program that would preserve and add to the number of low-cost hotels, motels and hostels in coastal areas, particularly on parkland.

The bill would require the conservancy to work with the California Department of Parks and Recreation and to develop a separate pilot program to explore the development, maintenance and operation of affordable accommodations by the private sector and nonprofit organizations.

“I grew up in a working-class family and got to enjoy the beach. There was easy access then,” said Gonzalez, who introduced the bill on Monday. “Now, people who grow up like I did don’t have that opportunity. Even for a middle-class family it can be cost-prohibitive to enjoy the beach.”… (more)

 

Supreme Court Grants Review in Medical Marijuana Case Presenting CEQA “Project” Definition Issues

by Arthur F. Coon : jdsupra – excerpt

On January 11, 2017, the California Supreme Court by unanimous order granted review in yet another CEQA case, Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, Inc. v. City of San Diego (2016) 4 Cal.App.4th 103, Supreme Court Case No. S238563.

The issues presented in plaintiff and appellant’s Petition for Review are:

  1. “Is amendment of a zoning ordinance an activity directly undertaken by a public agency that categorically constitutes a “project” under CEQA?
  2. Is a [sic] “the enactment of a law allowing the operation of medical marijuana cooperatives in certain areas of a municipality under certain conditions is [sic] the type of activity that may cause a reasonably foreseeable change to the environment,” categorically?”… (more)

The Housing Crunch Is Our Fault. We Can Fix It.

By Randal O’Toole : cato – excerpt (includes graphs)
(This article appeared in Washington Post on October 13, 2016.)

The only real solution is to repeal the state laws and local plans that created the problem in the first place.

Housing prices are rapidly rising in many urban areas. Prices in the San Francisco Bay Area are higher today — even after adjusting for inflation — than they were at the height of the 2006 bubble. Data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency bears this out:..

Yet this is not a nationwide problem. Prices in many other areas remain quite reasonable. Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth are the nation’s fastest-growing urban areas, yet they remain affordable (which is one reason they are growing so fast). Here are home prices for areas that don’t try to control urban sprawl (again, the data comes from the Federal Housing Finance Agency):…

The difference is that the urban areas with high housing prices have almost all tried to contain urban “sprawl” by limiting the amount of land around the cities that can be developed, using policies such as urban-growth boundaries, urban-service boundaries or concurrency requirements that limit new growth until infrastructure is totally financed. Anyone who understands supply and demand knows that limiting supply in the face of rising demand leads to higher prices…

The only real solution is to repeal the state laws and local plans that created the problem in the first place. That means abolishing growth boundaries and other constraints and allowing developers to build and sell homes outside of existing urban areas.

There is a growing opposition to the dense development theme. SF has ballot initiatives and LA is preparing a moratorium initiative. People do not like living in crowded conditions and do not like being told how to live.
If the Democrats do not take back the Senate maybe they will start to listen to what the citizens are saying instead of telling us how we must change. It is time for Congress to change.

 

 

 

 

Coalition to Preserve LA Praises Conservationists: They Stopped Gov. Brown from Wiping Out Environmental Protections Under CEQA

businesswire – excerpt

“This is a lie designed to kill CEQA, which is used modestly to attack only the worst developments.”

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Coalition to Preserve LA applauds the Sierra Club, the Planning and Conservation League and scores of groups who fought and today stopped Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to gut CEQA and Coastal Act environmental protections for virtually any urban project where developers agreed to add an insignificant number of affordable housing units.

In June, we urged our supporters, and those who believe developers are the last ones who should decide their communities’ fates, to call Gov. Brown to protest Trailer Bill 707. Brown’s now fully dead idea would have trampled over the California Environmental Quality Act and Coastal Act, handing the wheel to developers who have shown that without environmental oversight they will gladly place thousands of children in harm’s way, create massive surface street gridlock and destroy unique and beloved neighborhood character.

The Coalition is sponsoring the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative on the March 2017 Los Angeles ballot to end developer control over what L.A. becomes. Contact us to attend our events, or to very easily donate and send a message, at 2PreserveLA.org…

CEQA is a crucial tool to assure safe housing, but this year a raft of California legislators who take money from developers tried to pass some 30 bills to tear CEQA apart. In USC’s watershed Children’s Health Study of 3,600 children, scientists proved that youngsters living near freeways suffer chronic lung damage. UCLA found a higher risk for premature babies. Experts say this tainted housing cannot be “mitigated” with filters, trees or tight windows — microscopic metal and rubber particles still lodge in the lungs and brain…

The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, which is almost finished gathering more than 62,000 signatures for the March ballot, gives L.A. residents the power to “call a time-out” and shape what L.A. becomes. We believe environmental review is crucial to preserving safety, fighting gridlock and ending the current destruction of neighborhood character to build a luxury housing glut in Los Angeles.

The fight to protect CEQA is not over. Los Angeles city leaders have falsely claimed that CEQA is being abused and has increasingly pushed development disputes into court. Said Stewart “This is a lie designed to kill CEQA, which is used modestly to attack only the worst developments.” A new study from the NRDC shows that CEQA is used very seldom in court, has no effect on development costs, and is a key tool to force healthy out-of-court compromise.

Additional information available at ethics.lacity.org

Please visit us at neighborhoodintegrity@gmail.com / http://2PreserveLA.org(more)