By Kathleen Ronayne : smdailyjournal – excerpt

In an effort to spur affordable housing production and aid California’s economic recovery due to the COVID-19 crisis, Senate Democrats unveiled a package of legislation intended to bolster production of new housing and remove existing barriers by further streamlining the development process, according to Senate President Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

According to Atkins, the package of bills will lead to more construction jobs and apprenticeships opportunities that will strengthen the economic viability of working families and the state.

It follows the work of state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, after the defeat of his controversial Senate Bill 50…

The first bill, SB 902, by Wiener, allows local governments to pass a zoning ordinance that is not subject to the California Environmental Quality Act for projects that allow up to 10 units, if they are located in a transit-rich area, jobs-rich area, or an urban infill site.
Atkins has her own bill, SB 995, that would expand the application of streamlining the CEQA process to smaller housing projects that include at least 15% affordable housing. It also would broaden application and utilization of the Master Environmental Impact Report (MEIR) process, which allows cities to do upfront planning that streamlines housing approvals on an individual project level.
Another Atkins bill, SB 1120, would encourage small-scale neighborhood development by streamlining the process for a homeowner to create a duplex or subdivide an existing lot in all residential areas.
SB 1085 by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, would enhance the existing density bonus law by increasing the number of incentives provided to developers in exchange for providing more affordable units.
SB 1385, by state Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, would unlock existing land zoned for office and retail use and allow housing to become an eligible use on those sites… (more)

Check out Livable California Act Now on for details on actions you may take to stop the bills you don’t like. Many communities and city leaders are calling for a time out on density as the population shifts during the pandemic. Many will not return to their offices choosing to work from home.

RELATED:

The Work-From-Home Revolution Is Quickly Gaining Momentum
by Jack Kelly : forbes – excerpt

…Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, said according to her firm’s study that,  “Seventy-seven percent of the workforce say they want to continue to work from home, at least weekly, when the pandemic is over,” and Lister estimates that, “25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.”…(more)

Gov. Newsom Suspends 10-Cent Grocery Bag Charge During Coronavirus Pandemic

cbslocal – excerpt (includes video)

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Californians won’t be charged 10 cents per bag at the grocery store and retailers can again hand out thinner, single-use plastic bags under an executive order signed Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

It’s a change that retailers have wanted for weeks, as many major grocery chains have stopped letting customers bring in reusable bags over fears of spreading the new coronavirus. California, which has some of the nation’s strictest laws aimed at reducing plastic waste, banned stores from handing out single-use plastic bags and required them to charge 10 cents for all paper and plastic bags several years ago. Newsom’s order suspends those rules for 60 days… (more)

Good to know where the order came from, although the public will be informed when they go shopping so this directive is really aimed at the retail stores that were charging and keeping the fees. Consumers get a slight price break.

New restrictions on office space in new Mission District developments move forward

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Planning Commission on Thursday voted to prohibit most office space in some new developments in the Mission District.

The unanimous vote Thursday on a proposal from Supervisor Hillary Ronen is intended to boost housing in projects within the urban mixed use (UMU) district that includes the South of Market, Potrero Hill, and the central waterfront, which was created to allow for residential and office space while preserving industrial uses.

The restrictions approved Thursday no longer allow new office space in the upper levels of certain developments within the UMU district, but scale back Ronen’s original proposal to include only the Mission District… (more)

“It’s unfortunate and inequitable to change the rules after it’s gone before the Planning Commission,”

It is also unfortunate and inequitable for a property owner to purchase a property under one set of rules and then lobby to change them. This is what is happening thanks to our state representatives that have bent over backyards to protect the interests of the wealthy landowners at the expense of the rest of society. Wall Street on Main Street is what we have in San Francisco, or in this case, on Harrison.

We shall see how many tech office spaces we need after this epidemic passes. They may build them and nobody may want them after all.

Fortunately, we have a choice of electing new representatives to serve us in Sacramento. Here is one option: https://jackieforsenate.com/

Approval process for Balboa Reservoir project gets underway

By Ida Mojadad : sfexaminer – excerpt

The mixed-use development would turn 17 acres of public land into housing by CCSF

The Balboa Reservoir project received the first approval on Thursday needed to rezone 17 acres of public land into housing.

At its first-ever virtual public meeting Thursday, the San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously approved the initiation of a General Plan Amendment for the 1,100-unit Balboa Reservoir project in Ingleside…

“It’s public land, it should be used for the public good,” Worley said. “The PUC shouldn’t be handing it over to private developers.”…

The public hearing will occur on or after April 30th and go before the Board of Supervisors for final approval in the summer….(more)

No walk in the park for Americans struggling with cabin fever amid coronavirus crisis

By Marjie Lundstrom : salon – excerpt

Government officials and advocacy groups are trying to stem the tide of visitors seeking a nature fix

By the time Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California closed today — this time for real, sealing out even bikers and hikers — local residents were seething.

The picturesque swath of desert east of Los Angeles had been overrun by visitors the weekend of March 21 – two days after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  The line of cars came anyway, bumper to bumper, even though the National Park Service had closed the park’s roads and campgrounds that weekend. The government extended the closure this week to bicyclists and pedestrians.

“It was crazy how many people were in town that weekend,” said Robin Hercia, a graphic artist who lives in the unincorporated community of Joshua Tree. “People thought somehow that coming to Joshua Tree, out into nature, was exempt from the don’t-go-out category.

“It’s just this defiant, selfish behavior,” she said.

The tension is playing out across the nation, as housebound Americans seek refuge in the great outdoors — for exercise, for tranquility, for a place to de-stress…(more)

Not such a big problem if you have a private backyard or open space of your own to use, or you live out of the city. The people who are most likely to disobey the “stay at home” order are the ones living in cramped crowded conditions that do not have private yards and open space. These people rely on public parks and open space because they don’t have any private areas. Private open space is exactly what the so-called NIBMYs have been trying to protect. It did not take a crisis for everyone to understand the importance of private space.

A $60 Billion Housing Grab by Wall Street

By Francesca Mari : nytimes – excerpt

Hundreds of thousands of single-family homes are now in the hands of giant companies — squeezing renters for revenue and putting the American dream even further out of reach(more)

The (above) New York Times article states that private-equity firms have grabbed roughly $60 billion worth of single-family homes.Although, the strategy of the investors, described in the article, has been somewhat different (it seems they have bought distressed homes) than what their strategy would be if they bought up single-family homes in order to convert them to triplexes as allowed by SB-773, it shows that private-equity firms have a strong appetite for single-family homes.

Per our attached list of problems with SB-773: “By prohibiting local agencies from requiring a homeowner to live on the premises, SB-773 incentivizes large-scale investors to buy up single-family homes, convert them to triplexes and then operate them as commercial enterprises. Over time, as supply of single-family homes diminishes, the price of single-family homes would rise more rapidly for residents.”

Recap About Senate Bill 773:
SB-773 is a “clean-up bill” and corrects chaptering errors in accessory dwelling unit (ADU) legislation enacted in 2019 (AB-68, AB-881, SB-13 and others). The bill combines all the ADU legislation enacted last year into one bill. It passed through the State Senate on January 27th and is now being heard by the State Assembly Rules Committee.

We believe that amendments to the bill could correct much more than just chaptering errors. This is an opportunity to amend the flawed ADU bills that were signed into law last year. All further comments about SB-773, also apply to the other newly enacted ADU bills.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs) can be very beneficial. However, by requiring ministerial review and stripping away local control of land use and local development standards related to second units, SB-773 goes too far. This is particularly true in high fire risk areas.

This detrimental bill eliminates single family zoning and enables the transformation of beneficial accessory dwelling units (second units and granny flats) into overcrowded multifamily triplexes with potentially multiple adverse impacts.

Besides other mandates, SB-773 requires local agencies to approve detached ADUs that exceed the Floor Area Ratio (FAR), provided the ADU is 800 square feet or less, 16 feet or less in height, and 4 feet or more from the rear/side property lines.

In addition, SB-773 prohibits cities and counties from requiring additional off-street parking spaces in any of the following instances:

(1) The accessory dwelling unit is located within one-half mile walking distance of public transit. [**SB-773 defines ‘Public transit’ as “a location, including but not limited to, a bus stop or train station, where the public may access buses, trains, subways and other forms of transportation that charge set fares, run on fixed routes, and are available to the public.”]
(2) The accessory dwelling unit is located within an architecturally and historically significant historic district.
(3) The accessory dwelling unit is part of the proposed or existing primary residence or an accessory structure.
(4) When on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the occupant of the accessory dwelling unit.
(5) When there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the accessory dwelling unit.
(6) When homeowners convert garages to new housing.

Best regards,

Sharon

The Big Plan Behind SB50

Editorial by Zrants

StopSB50

In order to understand what is going on with the housing market in the state of California and what is behind SB50 we need to look at the big picture. Look at the high number of vacant units recently disclosed in the urban communities where the homeless are proliferating. Look at the changes we have seen in our communities and consider the constant demand for “improvements” the public is being asked to finance through a number of legislative changes that are being drawn up in Sacramento.

Proponents of SB 50 constantly attack single family housing. Their explanations and reasonings reveal some claims that are highly alarming, offensive, and easily disproven:

  • Single family homes are racist and inclusionary… only multiple family units can be built to accommodate “poor people and people of color”. (Tell that to the people of color who own homes in California.)
  • Single-family homes remove affordable housing.
  • No one can afford to build affordable single-family homes in California.
  • All single-family homeowners are rich and greedy unless they build more units on their property.
  • Single-family neighborhoods should “share the pain” with the dense housing mixed use neighborhoods.
  • Single-family homes and suburban neighborhoods are bad for the environment because they increase the use of private vehicles.

These statements and beliefs appear to be the backbone of the argument for state bills such as SB50 that remove local government control over zoning by eliminating single-family neighborhoods. SB50 supporters also claim that developers need to eliminate public review, debate, and environmental appeals to speed housing production, and they need financial incentives such as fee reductions for housing projects to “pencil out”. Note that all these “solutions” benefit developers at the expense of the public.

Opponents of SB50 point to other motivations for removal of single-family homes and neighborhoods in the state including higher profits for developers, state power grabs, privatization of public assets and higher taxes for the public.

Higher taxes will be next on the agenda. After the state takes over control of the development process, Sacramento politicians plan to incentivize developers to build more housing by cutting development fees. Since someone has to pay for expanding the infrastructure, public transit, water, sewer, energy, education, security and other services for the expanding population, state, local, and regional entities will need to raise taxes and public debt through bond sales.

Expect more requests by authorities for higher taxes to fix bridges and roads and higher fees for public access through establishment of toll roads and other revenue enhancing schemes. We will hear more promises to cut traffic and increase parking options. Parking turnover will be imposed by increasing costs and implementing shorter parking limits. This hasn’t worked so far!

The regional entities established by the state, and run by unelected appointees to manage transportation funds doled out by state and federal governments, have become powerful fiefdoms. They have been given the task of developing dense multi-use projects on government-owned properties, along transit corridors. Removing parking lots near transit hubs is their top priority. Along with building and managing housing they are expected to turn a profit for to generate a profit for the public transit agencies.

The regional authorities don’t work alone. They establish public/private enterprises and do whatever it takes to succeed. This works really well for the private corporate partners. A transit authority that controls parking, transit, access, and regulatory authority removes competition.

Next let’s consider the impact of removing single-family home production in the state on state property taxes. All mixed-use property is designated as commercial property. By cutting back on single-family homes and private home ownership, the state is forcing more people into tenancies in commercial mixed-use properties.

Prop 13 currently limits the property taxes on all property including commercial. The voters oppose paying higher property taxes, so the state legislators plan to offer a new deal that sounds good until you consider the divide and conquer tactic behind the plan. There is a state ballot initiative in the works that will give voters the option of removing Prop 13 protections for commercial property owners.

Beware of this friendly sounding bill. It has bad breath when you consider removing single-family housing from the future housing stock. Cutting back on single-family homes and private home ownership puts a greater number of residential units at risk of losing Prop 13 protection. How will this affect people who claim income from rental properties, tenants in multi-use complexes, and large commercial apartment buildings, and how many people know this is coming?

Mixed use properties have a few other poison pills. They pay higher utilities, insurance and other costs than residential properties. Higher taxes will get passed onto tenants and make California living even more expensive.

There is a plan to privatize much of the government and removing public review and discourse that will make the procedures a lot less transparent. We may start by asking some questions about procedural changes that have already been initiated.

Why is there a rush to build mixed use properties in all the residential neighborhoods? Why are developers building parking for businesses instead of residents in these mixed-use properties? Who benefits from reducing environmental review and appeals? Why are retail units being included in new development projects when retail is dying and there is a glut of vacant retail space on the market?

Given the recent announcement by the White House that most of the national environmental protections under NEPA are being scrapped, why is California reducing state environmental protections under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?  The timing is uncanny for a state that prides itself on being environmentally ahead of the curve. This should give us pause to consider alternatives to killing our own CEQA process as we watch for more changes in the environmental protection laws unfold at the national level.

Find out more about SB50:  https://www.livablecalifornia.org/act-now/
Check the map to see how your community will fair under SB50