CP&DR News Briefs April 26, 2022: Cities Sued Over Housing Items; Burbank SB 35 skirts; Joshua Tree remains unprotected; and more

Group of real estate agents sues six cities over unapproved housing items

Californians for Homeownership, a nonprofit tied to the California Association of Realtors, sued six cities in Los Angeles and Orange counties for failing to meet an Oct. 15 deadline to approve housing items that describe how they will meet housing needs over the next decade. . Cities include Bradbury, La Habra Heights, Manhattan Beach, Vernon, South Pasadena, and Laguna Hills. The lawsuit is associated with state regulations that increase penalties for local governments that fail to meet state housing requirements. The nonprofit is targeting a court order that requires quickly certified and legal housing elements, which would be certified by the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Burbank City Council thwarts potential SB 35 project

The City of Burbank may attempt to intentionally block an Orange County-based developer proposing to redevelop a Burbank landmark into a townhouse complex from accessing the streamlined approval process granted through the SB 35. In its effort to buy Pickwick Bowl and Gardens and build 98 townhouses, MW Investment Group suggested designating 10 of the homes as affordable for low-income residents, which would make the project automatically eligible for SB 35 incentives. SB 35, passed in 2018, prevents cities from rejecting multifamily housing that includes affordable housing. Council members argued that the project did not comply with the city’s existing land use regulations and therefore was not subject to SB 35 as proposed; the developers could request a modification of the general plan instead. Lawyers for MW Investment have suggested legal action under the Housing Liability Act may be imminent.

State refuses to consider protected status for Joshua Tree

In response to a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity suggesting the impact of climate change on the Joshua tree, the state Fish and Game Commission recommended not identifying the species as threatened. If the Joshua tree avoids this designation by the time the commission reveals its final decision, local jurisdictions will have the power to limit the expansion of commercial, residential and energy projects on the lands where the Joshua trees are located. Currently, about 40% of the Joshua tree’s range is on private land and endangered species laws would apply. However, the commission’s recommendation suggests that the renewable energy industry could make more use of Joshua Tree land, although it has been criticized for doing so.

LAO makes recommendations for new student housing subsidy program

A new report from the Office of the Legislative Analyst analyzes Gov. Gavin Newsom’s list of campus projects that could qualify for a first-round grant under the Higher Education Student Housing Grant program. In addition to providing key background information on Governor Newsom’s list of projects, which reportedly total $488 million, the authors make several recommendations for moving forward, such as for the Legislative Assembly to consider a different approach that considers other affordability measures or approves more projects in the first round. The authors also recommend that the Legislative Assembly implement measures that would reduce the risk of cost overruns and discuss other approaches to ease the stress on college finances of low-income students and improve existing infrastructure.

Ontario warehouse project faces legal action

A recently approved logistics hub plan and master plan update that allows more than five million square feet of industrial development on southern Ontario dairy lands is facing backlash from environmental organizations and agricultural. First, the Community Action Center for Environmental Justice sued the city of Ontario for ignoring public health and farmland vitality, hoping that the San Bernardino Superior Court would dismiss both the project and the updates. day of the general plan. A week later, signatures are piling up to revoke city council’s approval of the specific plan for the southern Ontario logistics hub. While those who support the project cite job opportunities, many community members fear that diesel trucks will supplement low-paying jobs to further harm the community. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

Legal coverage CP&DR: EIR conservation alternatives; Short term rentals

An appeals court has ruled that the environmental impact report for a development in Livermore – a project approved by the city council of this notoriously slow-growing town – was inadequate because it did not consider the possibility of purchase the property for conservation purposes. The First District Court of Appeals found that RFEIR should have considered the possibility that the land could be purchased for conservation from two possible sources of funding – one a mitigation fund created by the housing project Dougherty Valley giant and the other mitigation fund created by the Altamont landfill expansion.
A regulation restricting the availability of short-term rentals in Manhattan Beach prompted a complaint from an AirBnb host who argued the restriction required Coastal Commission approval. The court sided with the plaintiff in a case that hinged on whether short-term rentals qualify as “hotels or motels” under city ordinances.

Quick hits and updates

The city of Los Gatos sued Santa Clara County for fraud, breach of contract and negligence over a 1,300 foot section of Shannon Road that would have required millions of dollars in repairs. The road, known for its cracked pavement and originally owned by the county, was handed over to Los Gatos after its annexation in 2018, with maintenance responsibilities. Los Gatos believes the county failed to make meaningful repairs and intentionally turned the road’s problems over to the city. The city is seeking $5.5 million in damages.
Most US residents, including city dwellers, believe high density increases pollution, traffic congestion and crime, according to a new YouGov poll. Although city dwellers are more likely to say that higher density is more environmentally friendly, most said it is better for the environment to build homes farther apart.
California could reduce its water consumption by more than 30% by increasing the efficiency of its use, according to a new study from the Pacific Institute. The researchers also found that urban areas could reduce the depletion of rivers and aquifers by investing in local projects that recycle wastewater and capture stormwater.
Berkeley’s planning commission voted, 5-4, to approve a zoning change that raises the height limit for new BART housing above parking lots at two stations from 7 to 12 stories. This would increase the maximum number of dwellings from 2,400 to 3,600.
A campaign for an affordable housing measure in San Francisco that could end up in the November ballot has begun, with housing advocates and elected officials responding to the Supervisory Board’s rejection of a measure proposed by Mayor London Breed in January. Affordable Housing Now would speed up the approval process for new projects.
Researchers from the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies at UCLA have released a report that analyzes the relationship between eligibility for outdoor dining services and street and sidewalk conditions in Los Angeles and offers solutions to make outdoor dining more accessible. The results demonstrate that neighborhoods of color often feature narrower sidewalks, making it difficult to expand business participation.