Mayor Brand to CA Legislature: Instead of Simplistic Supply Side SB827, Give Cities Resources

By Mayor Bill Brand : planningreport – excerpt

“We want to pass a statewide citizen-led initiative that amends the state constitution to protect local zoning and land-use regulations.” – Mayor Bill Brand

In reaction to legislation threatening to usurp local control of housing and land-use policy by the state, mayors and local officials are mobilizing to enshrine their decision-making jurisdiction in the California Constitution. Redondo Beach—one of the top 25 densest cities in Southern California—is one of those cities.  With a housing density greater that SF, it has supported investment in transportation infrastructure and new job creation, but has been critical of new development mandates. Mayor Bill Brand, in this TPR interview, opines on the current housing policy dialogue in California in the wake of SB 827 demise. Brand, who previously was elected to the Redondo Beach City Council on a slow-growth platform, is clear in his sentiment that state legislation relying on upzoning R1 neighborhoods is a patently “absurd” approach to generating more affordable housing supply in our lifetimes…


Bill Brand: The state’s current effort is a giant overreach that goes far beyond where they should be going…

Over 90 percent of people in Redondo Beach leave the city to go to work. We have the housing; what we really need are more job centers…

Some of the bills coming out of Sacramento would exacerbate the problems we have here. And that’s a common theme I’m hearing from other local elected officials: that many recent state bills are out of touch with the complex land-use decisions we have to make. We feel like Sacramento dial turning is exacerbating complex local problems that require local solutions, and we are strongly opposed to it…

That’s another issue we have with the bills coming down from Sacramento. If residential density paid, we’d be a very rich community. As it turns out, we’re not, because it’s really commercial that pays, and that’s what we lack.

One of the consequences of Prop 13 is that cities look to attract successful commercial and hotel. Still, I remember when it was passed—and why. I think a lot of people have forgotten that older people were being forced out of their homes. The state was coming in with big reassessments, and people’s property tax bills were going up. It was creating a tremendous amount of uncertainty and hardship around the state.

Prop 13 was created to serve a purpose. While it created other challenges, I do think Prop 13 fixed a bigger problem, and that if we tried to repeal it, we would probably end up right back where we were… (more)

It is good to hear from other communities in the state that do not have the problems we have in the Bay Area to get a different on our own situation. This is most enlightening.

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

Southern California Association of Governments Stalling on CEQA Reform

By James Brasuell : planetizen : excerpt
One of the largest, most influential regional governments in the state has asked for exemptions from changes to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) that will measure Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) instead of Level of Service (LOS).

“[The Southern California Association of Government] sent a last-minute letter attempting to delay progressive updates to California’s outdated environmental standards,” according to an article by Melanie Curry, who explains in more detail.

In the letter [PDF], Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)—the regional transportation planning organization for much of southern California—requested exemptions for highway expansion projects and freight corridors from proposed state rules that could show their true environmental impact in a way that old rules do not.

In effect, SCAG is asking the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, which is developing the reformed CEQA requirements, to “limit the new VMT measure to projects that are close to transit, and also to ‘grandfather in’ highway expansion and freight corridor projects that have already been approved in planning documents.” According to an environmentalist source cited in the article, it looks like SCAG is asking for exemptions on projects that won’t perform will under the new environmental review process in the state. According to a SCAG source, the letter was meant to “request that OPR focus first on transit priority areas and allow a longer opt-in period for other areas.”… (more)

San Francisco is not alone in its request for exemption from the Governor’s new bill. Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) wants exemptions related to LOS and VMT.

With temperatures rising you can’t expect people to give up there air-conditioned cars to ride buses, bikes and walk. No one in their right mind wants to put themselves in that position. The best solution for the environment is to build solar sufficient housing and that is 4 to 5 stories maximum. Then you will need a state law that protects those solar units from shade by nearby buildings. Sort of the opposite of stack and pack units being pushed now.

SoCal Air Gets a Pass From 9th Circuit

SoCal Air Gets a Pass From 9th Circuit

By MATT REYNOLDS, Courthouse News, 3/12/15 – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The 9th Circuit on Wednesday declined environmentalists’ calls for tougher regulation of smog in Southern California, ruling that federal standards to limit the pollution are adequate.
A provision of the Clean Air Act requires that major polluters, including power plants and refineries, pay emission fees in parts of the South Coast Air Basin with the dirtiest air.
South Coast Air Quality Management District substituted that program with another that draws on other financial sources, including state and federal grants.
After the Environmental Protection Agency approved the alternate program, National Resources Defense Council and Communities for a Better Environment filed a petition of review in early 2013, arguing that the district program did not do enough to reduce pollution from stationary sources in the South Coast Air Basin, in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
South Coast Air Quality Management District counsel Barbara Baird said that a ruling in the groups’ favor would require about 300 major stationary sources of pollution to pay combined emission fees of $30 million to $50 million.
“It would have been a hardship on some of the public agencies in this area, if we had not been able to use this alternative method of compliance.” Baird said in an interview. “We think the plaintiffs are just wrong if they assume they would get something better out of the other program than they get out of this one.”
The New England Journal of Medicine this month published a study concluding that air pollution has been “trending downward progressively over the past several decades in Southern California.”… (more)

I could be wrong, but I think SF just got hit with a $30 million fee. Do we have to lose jobs to fight the fee?

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