On October 6, 2017, Governor Brown approved Assembly Bill (AB) 246, extending certain CEQA litigation streamlining provisions under the Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act of 2011 (the Act) for two years. The Governor may now certify projects as eligible for streamlining until January 1, 2020.  Projects that are certified for streamlining have until January 1, 2021 to complete the CEQA process and obtain project approval.

The Act provides three key litigation streamlining benefits to qualifying projects:

Continue Reading State Grants Two Year CEQA Streamlining Extension for “Environmental Leadership Projects”

As of January 1, 2018, California’s cities, counties, and charter cities are required to either adopt an Environmental Justice Element in their General Plan or integrate Environmental Justice policies and goals into the elements of their General Plan “upon the adoption or next revision of two or more elements concurrently.” Gov. Code Sec. 65302(h)(2).

Continue Reading Environmental Justice Element Now Required for California’s General Plans

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is considering minor modifications to the Planning Code definition of Gross Floor Area. The Planning Department characterizes these changes as “good government” measures to clarify the Code and further the City’s sustainable transportation goals.

Continue Reading Dude, Where’s My Car? San Francisco’s New Gross Floor Area Definition Furthers Sustainable Transportation Goals

CA State CapitalThe California Court of Appeal for the Sixth Appellate District recently held, in Aptos Council v. County of Santa Cruz, 10 Cal. App. 5th 266 (2017) that environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) need only analyze environmental impacts of development resulting from a zoning amendment if the development is reasonably foreseeable. This decision provides helpful guidance to municipalities considering zoning and land use plan amendments that permit development at higher densities.

Continue Reading Court Confirms CEQA Analysis of Zoning Amendments Limited to Reasonably Foreseeable Development

Housing San FranciscoThe City is one step closer to sorting out inclusionary housing requirements and local implementation of the State Density Bonus law now that the City Controller has released its final recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. The good news for developers is that recommended on-site and in-lieu fee percentages are below Proposition C levels. On the other hand, an “in-lieu” fee for density bonus units is now being contemplated.

Continue Reading Inclusionary Housing Recommendations a Mixed Bag for Developers

photo-1423347673683-ccdb7f6a948fThe San Francisco Planning Commission took a major step on December 8, 2016, by approving the first market rate housing project to utilize the State Density Bonus law.

The State law, which has been in effect for almost 40 years, incentivizes developers to construct more affordable housing by providing density bonuses of up to 35 percent for projects that incorporate on-site affordable units. The amount of the density bonus varies depending on the level of affordability and the number of affordable units.  Continue Reading State Density Bonus Law Debuts in San Francisco

A roundup of news and articles the Unfamiliar Terrain team is reading this week:

Versailles in the Valley” (The Economist): What do the new, monumental headquarters of Silicon Valley’s tech powerhouses say about them?

The Great Rent Squeeze” (CityLab): Households are spending larger shares of their income on rent—does this stifle the economy?

Can the US economy return to dynamic and inclusive growth?” (McKinsey Global Institute):  Can declining cities fuel economic growth?

Airbnb, under the gun, is ready to cooperate with SF” (SF Chronicle): Changes are afoot at Airbnb.

Four trends from state and local elections” (Brookings Institution): What concerns are shaping America’s cities and regions?

Teslas in the Trailer Park: A California City Faces Its Housing Squeeze” (NYTimes): “We joke that it’s the only mobile home park with Mercedeses and Teslas in the driveway…It’s like the new middle class in California.”

San FranciscoWith rising housing costs remaining a priority concern for the region, affordable housing had a major presence on Bay Area ballots this November. As detailed below, voters in three municipalities and three counties across the Bay Area passed measures to increase affordable housing funding for low and moderate-income households. Taken together, these measures will yield about $2 billion in new housing funds.

Continue Reading Housing is Top of Mind: Results of Bay Area Affordable Housing and Rent Control Measures

A roundup of news and articles the Unfamiliar Terrain team is reading this week:

Africa unplugged” (The Economist): How will off-grid solar change patterns of urban and regional development?

Visualizing the Toughest Challenges Facing Global Cities” (CityLab): Can enhanced data visualization help us tackle complex, interconnected urban problems?

Is New York Too Expensive for Restaurateurs? We Do the Math” and “Art Dealers Move Out of the Gallery and Into a Taco Bell” (NYT): How can new restaurants and galleries stay afloat in competitive real estate markets?

The Next Frontier for Energy Savings in Buildings and Cities: Tenant Spaces” (Natural Resources Defense Council): New opportunities for improving energy performance.

Here’s How Self-Driving Cars Will Transform Your City” (Wired):  8 experts weigh-in.

Uber’s New Goal: Flying Cars in Less Than a Decade” (MIT Technology Review): On-demand flying cars(!).

Achieving Lasting Affordability through Inclusionary Housing” (Lincoln Institute of Land Policy): Recommendations on how to craft robust inclusionary housing based on the analysis of 20 inclusionary housing programs across the US.

Half a House” (99% Invisible): How did slum upgrading and incremental housing techniques from the 1970s find their way into Pritzker Prize-winning architecture?

Closing California’s housing gap” and “Urban world: Meeting the demographic challenge in cities” (McKinsey Global Institute): New McKinsey reports address housing needs and demographic change.

busy-street-in-the-center-of-san-francisco-picjumbo-comProp U dovetails with the City’s new increases in required affordable housing percentages by expanding the range of household income levels that would be eligible to rent an affordable housing unit. According to the Controller, this would increase rental revenue for property owners and tax revenue for the City.  The measure is part of an ongoing debate about the appropriate income range for defining eligibility for affordable units, and reflects a desire to expand the range to include more low/low moderate income families (as opposed to very low income).

Continue Reading Prop U: Making Affordable Units Available to Low and Moderate Income Households