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)

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 Sierra Club and the luxury-housing developer

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

Northern Alameda chapter backs San Leandro project in a sign that the pro-growth forces are trying to take over the environmental group.

Are you a Sierra Club member who lives in Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, Alameda, Piedmont or San Leandro? If so, you fall under the aegis of the club’s Northern Alameda County Group, which is nested within the larger Bay Chapter.

Be aware, then, that the NAC Executive Committee is currently dominated by a pro-growth coterie that’s exploiting the Sierra Club’s cachet to push a pro-development agenda that violates the club’s commitments to affordable housing, neighborhood integrity, and democratic governance.

If you’re a Sierra Club member who lives elsewhere in the Bay Area, you should also be concerned. The growth boosters on the NAC Ex Com include two men who wield considerable influence in the Bay Chapter, Igor Tregub and Andy Katz. Tregub also chairs the chapter Executive Committee. Both he and Katz sit on the Bay Chapter’s Political Committee, which makes the Sierra Club’s endorsements of political candidates and ballot measures. In the Bay Area, where the club claims nearly 60,000 members, and environmental values are widely embraced, Sierra Club endorsements carry a lot of weight. (UPDATE: Tregub tells me he has stepped down from the Political Committee, which only makes advisory recommendations on endorsements.)

This is an alarming trend for the club; already in San Francisco, Yimbys have tried to take over the local chapter (and so far failed). But the pro-development forces know that placing people on the boards of all-volunteer organizations is not that difficult. There’s little doubt that “smart growth” advocates are trying to shift the influential Sierra Club in their direction, locally and nationally(more)

Landlords are threatening rent hikes if Proposition 10 passes, activists say

By : curbed – excerpt

The ballot measure would roll back state regulations on rent control

Prop10.jpg

In August, North Hollywood resident Jacob Swanson, 36, heard from his building’s property manager that rent for his apartment would increase from $1,850 to $2,000 per month, higher than the typical yearly increase he was used to.

Eager to know the reason for the higher rent hike, he emailed the property manager to ask if repairs or upgrades were planned for the building. The reply he received didn’t mention any repairs; instead, the building’s manager blamed the increase on “the upcoming election.”

Renter advocates say Los Angeles landlords and building managers are hitting tenants with rent hikes in advance of November, when voters will decide on Proposition 10, a statewide ballot initiative that would lift restrictions on rent control in California cities… (more)

If I had any doubts about how to vote on Prop 10, I now know that we don’t need to bow to intimidation  when we don’t have to. The entire world appears to have forgotten the last 100 years and be ready to repeat them. It is time to stand up for what principals we have left while we still have some.

 

SF residential projects languish as rising costs force developers to cash out

: sfchronicle – excerpt

Just 3 miles separate 2675 Folsom St., a vacant former restaurant equipment warehouse in the Mission District, and 160 Folsom St., a former parking lot near the Transbay Transit Center where a condo tower is under construction.

But in the current economic landscape of the San Francisco’s housing development, the two properties are a world apart.

While the next crop of luxury condo towers like 160 Folsom, which developer Tishman Speyer has branded as Mira, continue to rise in the fast-growing eastern end of South of Market, other approved housing projects across the city, like 2675 Folsom St., are stalled and on the market because of soaring construction costs and fees, developers and other industry sources say.

The growing number of developers seeking to cash out rather than risk losing money on building is fueling concerns that residential production will start to decline even as the Bay Area’s housing crisis worsens… (more)

Some of us have been predicting this for months. It is easier to solve the housing problem once you take the “build more” option off the table. Keep people in their homes by keeping homes affordable if you want to solve the housing problem. Repeal inflationary bills at the root of the income disparity problem. Repeal Prop 6 and Prop 10 in November.

Repealing Prop 6 should lower the cost of all consumables, including food.

Repealing Prop 10 will allow individual cities to deal with rent control issues on a local basis. The voters can enact the control they want in their district.

California Senate passes bill to build more housing at BART stations

By Kate Murphy : mercurynews – excerpt

SACRAMENTO — A state bill to replace surface parking lots with housing at East Bay and San Francisco BART stations passed the California Senate on Thursday, propelling the proposal one step closer to becoming law.

After a passionate debate on the Senate floor, the bill passed 26-13…

Championed by housing, transit and business interests but fought by some cities and others wary of losing local control over land-use decisions, Assembly Bill 2923 would force cities and counties to zone BART property in accordance with an ambitious policy the transit agency adopted in 2016. That policy calls for 20,000 new apartments and town homes — 35 percent of them to be rented at below market rate, system-wide — by 2040.

Perhaps more significantly, the bill would also fast-track the approvals of such developments, a process that has been known to take decades… (more)

REGIONAL POWER: This is an example of state elected officials handing power to non-elected regional officials to override the constitutional authority of elected city and county representatives. This is the picture of the new REGIONAL GOVERNMENT being developed to avoid public scrutiny and review of changes in our communities.

So far as we know, this power is only being use to usurp local zoning and development decisions, however, since much of these decisions were the purview of environmental review and studies, this does not bode well for the environment at a time of great concern over the supply and quality of our water and other essential elements needed to expand these communities. Who is protecting us now?

Will the voters fight back in court and will they reward the elected officials who cut their power by re-electing them to office, or will they start recall proceedings in protest against those elected representatives? If San Francisco Bay Area can pass local regional control laws, so can other other regional groups.

Push to scrap downtown cap meets resistance

by Gennady Sheyner : paloaltoonline – excerpt

Citizens’ initiative would cap new office space at 850,000 square feet between 2015 and 2030

A divisive proposal to eliminate the limit on commercial development in downtown Palo Alto ran into a wall of resistance Wednesday night, when the city’s Planning and Transportation Commission opted not to advance the change.

In a decision that ran counter to wishes of the City Council majority and that overruled the recommendation of planning staff, the commission voted 4-0 to keep in place — at least for the time being — the existing 350,000-square-foot cap on non-residential development in downtown…

The vote followed testimony from about 20 residents, including members of the group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, which favors slow-growth policies and which is spearheading a November initiative that would halve the citywide cap on non-residential growth. Every speaker urged the commission to keep the cap in place. They pointed to downtown’s ongoing parking and traffic problems and argued that taking up the issue at this time — just months before the voters are set to opine on the issue of office growth — is an affront to democracy. ..(more)

We shall see if the citizens of Palo Alto will be allowed to set the commercial growth limits or if their decision is overturned by the courts as Prop M was in San Francisco.

RELATED:
Measure to limit office growth qualifies for November election
A citizens’ initiative that would roughly halve the amount of new office space that Palo Alto would allow to be built between now and 2030 has officially garnered enough signatures to land on the November ballot… (more)