What the regional housing “compact” amounts to — so far

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

Plenty of bills that will please developers and landlords; not so many for tenants and vulnerable communities.

The first installment of my CASA story listed bills introduced in the state Legislature on December 3, most notably Scott Wiener’s do-over of his failed SB 827, SB 50, that incorporate policies in the CASA Compact:

AB 4 (Chiu): Redevelopment 2.0
AB 68 and AB 69 (Ting): further loosen regulations on in-law units
SB 4 (McGuire and Beall): Limit local land use policies that restrict housing and encourage new housing near transit and job centers
SB 5 (McGuire and Beall): Redevelopment 2.0
SB 6 (Beall): Streamline housing production and penalize local planning that restricts production
SB 13 (Wieckowski): further loosen regulations on in-law units
SB 18 (Skinner): legal assistance for tenants
SB 50 (Wiener): upzoning near transit and job center
Plus AB 2065 (Ting): surplus public lands (introduced in 2018 and still live)

Please read the entire article for all the details and comment at the source. The more people who are aware of these plans and the details of these bills the better.

After FBI raid, L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar is stripped of his committee assignments

: latimes – excerpt

Roughly a week after FBI agents raided his home and offices, Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar has been removed from all of his committee assignments, including chairman of the powerful panel that reviews the city’s biggest development projects…

Huizar has served for several years as the chairman of the powerful Planning and Land Use Management Committee, which vets proposals for apartment towers, hotel projects, new shopping malls and other large-scale development proposals. The panel also oversees regulations for digital billboards and Airbnb-type rentals and proposals for designating properties as historic monuments.

Real estate developers, outdoor advertising companies and others with business before the committee have been a major source of Huizar’s campaign contributions, donating to his reelection bids and officeholder accounts…

“We’re glad to see Huizar placed on the sidelines” while investigators sort through materials they seized at his home and offices, said Jill Stewart, executive director of the Coalition to Preserve L.A., which has spoken out against council members’ practice of letting developers — many of whom donate to their campaigns — build projects that are taller or denser than city rules ordinarily allow…(more)

To endorse Prop. 10 or no? SF YIMBY faces soul-defining choice

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s YIMBY Action is facing a difficult choice, one that may define the group for years to come.

Will the champions of “build, build, build” endorse Proposition 10, the state ballot prop that would repeal rent control advocate’s most pernicious roadblock, Costa Hawkins?

The 1995 Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act is the white whale of California tenants organizations, and essentially prevents cities from establishing their own rent control policies, exempts single family homes from rent control and allows landlords to hike the rent once a tenant moves out. If successful this November, Prop. 10 could allow the expansion of rent control policies across the state.

“This would be huge, this would be a game changer,” Deepa Varma, executive director of the San Francisco Tenants Union, told me.

Game changer it may be, but for the Yes In My Back Yard group, it’s also an existential decision that its nearly 2,000 members will begin voting on at the end of this week… (more)

My guess is there will be no endorsement, which is the same as voting NO.

Jerry Brown is Trying to Quash the People’s Ability to Fight Mega-Developers … For Him, It’s Personal!

By Jill Stewart : citywatchla – excerpt

VOX POP–A few years ago, then-state Sen. Alex Padilla implored us to embrace a fast-tracking plan that let wealthy developers rush huge mega-developments through the courts, getting around opponents by slashing the time they were given to fight back under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.

Padilla, who is now California Secretary of State, repeated at the time to KCRW’s Warren Olney what Gov. Jerry Brown and the majority Democrats in the legislature were saying in 2011: California’s then-12% unemployment rate justified the pushing aside of environmental damage concerns created by massive developments, to create jobs.

Asked what the rush was, given the possibility of environmentally questionable developments sailing through the courts, Padilla said, “The urgency is 99 percent driven by the unemployment rate that we have,” which had soared to 12%.

He went on to predict that a purportedly badly needed NFL stadium for Downtown Los Angeles would create some 20,000 jobs. It was a wild exaggeration in a time of desperate unemployment.

Fast forward to today. The California unemployment rate has plummeted, its urban areas are vibrant, and the absurd plan for a downtown NFL football stadium, squeezed onto insufficient land next to one of the most congested freeways in the world, died on the vine. The phony claims about “Farmer’s Field,” proved to be just that — downtown Los Angeles soon exploded in growth and jobs, sans the NFL stadium.

Now, Gov. Jerry Brown and some very sneaky California Democratic state legislators are trying to push through the 2.0 version of that end-run around our environmental protections. But because Brown and Co. no longer have horrible unemployment levels as an excuse for egregious environmental backsliding, they went with a hardball, last-minute, non-debated, surprise law as their strategy, Senate Bill 734.

It is opposed by the Sierra Club, the Judicial Council that administers California’s courts, the Planning and Conservation League, and my own organization, the Coalition to Preserve LA, which is aiming to place the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative on the March 2017 ballot to end developer control of Los Angeles City Hall.

SB 734 will allow wildly inappropriate private developments to breeze through the courts, such as the traffic-freezing “Crossroads of the World” mega-blob development, proposed next to badly jammed-up Highland Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, an area  now all but shut down for hours each day by overdevelopment and its endless, attendant, commuter traffic… (more)

City of Los Angeles Outsources Defense of CEQA/Land Use Lawsuits To Private Law Firms – Developers To Foot The Bill

City of Los Angeles Outsources Defense of CEQA/Land Use Lawsuits To Private Law Firms – Developers To Foot The Bill

By Jack H. Rubens : natlawreview – excerpt

On December 16, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously authorized the City Attorney to establish a Land Use/CEQA Panel, which will consist of five municipal law firms, to defend the City in CEQA and land use lawsuits that challenge the entitlements for private development projects, and to require that the project applicant reimburse the City for its legal costs and fees.

This is a significant change in City policy.  For many years, most entitlement approvals for development projects have included a pro-forma condition that requires the project applicant to defend and indemnify the City respect to litigation challenging the entitlements, either on CEQA or other grounds.  However, the City has rarely enforced that condition and the City Attorney has normally defended the City in such litigation.

That will now change.  Based on the Council-approved recommendations in the report prepared by the City Attorney, in the event a lawsuit is filed, the developer will be required to execute a reimbursement agreement pursuant to which it agrees to pay all reasonable costs and fees charged by the firm retained by the City.  The developer will still have the right to retain its own law firm to defend the litigation, but in that case it will be forced to pay two law firms.

This action by the City Council imposes yet another (potential) burden on development in Los Angeles, particularly for the developers of small or mid-sized projects, who can ill-afford any litigation delay, much less having to pay a second law firm… (more)

ANOTHER VIEW: CEQA empowers the people to hold developers accountable

ANOTHER VIEW: CEQA empowers the people to hold developers accountable

By GORDON NIPP : bakersfieldcalifornian.com – excerpt

The Californian recently editorialized in favor of changes in the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA due for another rewrite,” Jan. 27). CEQA is a major pillar of democracy in California; the consequences of changes need careful consideration.
CEQA informs and empowers ordinary citizens. By requiring public disclosure of the impacts of new large development projects, CEQA establishes a mechanism that allows us to satisfy our rights and our duties as citizens to be informed, and it requires feasible mitigation for significant impacts. CEQA also establishes a mechanism, potential litigation, for redress if these rights are violated…
By informing and empowering the public, CEQA stands as a major component of our democratic system. Our own community is much improved as a result of this law. Weakening CEQA is weakening our democracy… (more)

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