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.

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Trial begins over SF waterfront height limits as state seeks to overturn Prop. B

By Michael Barba : sfeaminer – excerpt

A trial that will determine whether San Francisco voters will be stripped of their power to decide how tall developers can build along the waterfront began Wednesday with an attorney questioning the decision-making ability of voters…

The State Lands Commission, which manages public land in California including the waterfront and is chaired by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, sued San Francisco over the ballot measure that year.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos must now decide whether to invalidate Prop. B.

Jacobs argued that voters are too uneducated on ballot issues to decide the future of major development projects and limited in their ability to tweak the projects by either voting yes or no on a project. Instead, Jacobs said the Port Commission should be in charge of waterfront height limits…(more)

Are the stupid San Francisco citizens dumb  enough to vote for a former mayor who sues and insults them while he is running for office? The power grabs are coming at us from the top down brigade.

“They are attempting to put the very notion that citizens in California have a right to govern themselves on trial,” Golinger told the San Francisco Examiner…(more)

 

Voters Challenge NBA Kings’ ‘Hideously Designed’ Hoops Palace

by : courthousenews – excerpt

SACRAMENTO (CN) – A dozen citizens sued Sacramento in a vitriolic complaint fulminating against the city’s plan to scrap a basketball arena and build a new one for the NBA’s Kings.
Lead plaintiff Adriana Gianturco Saltonstall minces no words in the lawsuit: “Consummating a deal already brokered with the National Basketball Association, the
Sacramento City Council, led by former NBA player Mayor Kevin Johnson, voted on May 20, 2014 to leave behind a perfectly good sports arena in the middle of urban north Sacramento to demolish a major section of downtown Sacramento and build a hideously-designed sports arena there (the ‘Project’). The new arena capacity would differ from the abandoned ‘Sleep Train’ arena only in the larger number of luxury ‘box suites’ which are sold at a premium, generating more money for the NBA owners.”
A complaisant Legislature granted an exemption to state environmental law so the hideous arena could be built, the plaintiffs say: “In its quest to grease the project for the developers and citing an unsubstantiated threat that the Sacramento Kings corporate basketball team would be moved unless a new arena was built, the City of Sacramento and the wealthy Project promoters sought special-interest state legislation to modify the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to eliminate steps in the environmental review required for all other projects. Their wishes were fulfilled in Senate Bill 743, authored by state Sen. Darrell Steinberg.
“Despite the overwhelming opposition of Sacramento voters to using public funds, the Project commits the City’s general fund to underwrite the half billion dollar corporate sports palace.
“The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a downtown sports arena built for the National Basketball Association and the Sacramento Kings is defective under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and invalid under the California Constitution.
“The environmental impacts of the Project will be staggering, including long back-ups on already crowded local freeway on-and-off ramps; amplified noise belching from open hanger doors of the arena onto the historic downtown Sacramento streets; crowds up to 17,000 pouring out after games onto the darkened streets where Sacramento has been unable to prevent violence and murder from smaller events such as the Thursday Night Market and Second Saturday; choking parking in the residential neighborhoods· from cruising attendees seeking to avoid the higher parking rates and more meters planned to pay the extravagant expense of funding the bonds to build the facility.
“The Court’s writ and relief are urgently required to protect the physical environment from unnecessary environmental impacts and any further commitment to the Project before proper environmental analysis, mitigation and alternatives.”
They also challenge the legality of the Steinberg bill, which “strips environmental review of the public accountability that is the essence of CEQA, while imposing a 270-day timeframe for review.”
And, the plaintiffs say, Sacramento voters three times rejected public subsidy of a “corporate sports arena,” the last time in 2006 by an 80 percent margin.
They seek declaratory judgment that Steinberg’s bill is unconstitutional, writ of mandamus setting aside “any approvals, entitlements, findings or resolutions related to the Project” and forcing the city to comply with CEQA, an injunction and costs.
They are represented by Kelly T. Smith… (more)