Governor Newsom pledges extra $200 million for homeless housing
The Mercury News – October 26
Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $200 million boost to his Project Homekey homeless housing fund in San Jose last Friday — a major cash infusion that will back several Bay Area projects. Project Homekey is a program intended to help cities and counties turn hotels and other buildings into long-term housing for homeless Californians, including those who have been temporarily sheltering in hotels during the coronavirus pandemic. Though the state has sheltered 22,203 people in temporary hotels, as those programs begin to end, Homekey has funded just 5,076 new housing units.
California considers landmark appliance rule to ease grid demand
Bloomberg Law – October 23
California energy regulators are considering setting first-in-the-nation rules for appliances that could reduce energy use during peak demand times. California Energy Commissioner J. Andrew McAllister calls the idea an elegant, affordable solution that could have avoided rolling blackouts that plunged nearly 2 million people into darkness over two days in August during a heat wave. Web-enabled applications can control thermostats, lighting, and home alarm systems already, so, he asked, why not expand that reality? The Energy Commission voted unanimously on October 14 to begin rulemaking that would set standards and labeling requirements for flexible demand appliances. Now begins workshops, public comment, economic analysis, and other tasks before a proposed rule could come before the board in late 2021. Supporters say having a fleet of appliances that can respond to demand could cut out the need for more-polluting and expensive peaker plants that get kicked online during high demand times. Opponents are concerned the Energy Commission rules could open appliances up to hacking, create safety issues, and be required to have specific ports—akin to a USB circuit.
Major increase in jobs and development eyed in downtown San Jose, according to new city report
The Mercury News – October 28
Downtown San Jose is in line for a huge increase in jobs, office space, housing, retail, entertainment, activity hubs, and hotels, city officials stated in the draft report for the Diridon Station Area Plan released Wednesday. This uptick in development would go beyond the transit-oriented neighborhood that Google has proposed near the Diridon rail hub, according to the report. The development plans suggest that the Diridon Station Area could see, over the next 20 years, new development in a wide variety of categories, including up to 12,900 residential units and up to 13.7 million square feet of office space, more than double the amount of such space currently in downtown San Jose. The development vision in the Diridon Station area calls for a diverse range of building heights and a push for much greater densities.
Los Angeles Metro proposes first major overhaul of bus system in 25 years
Los Angeles Daily News – October 22
Los Angeles County transportation officials have voted to initiate the NextGen Bus Plan, which is designed to create a faster and more reliable bus network with more routes. The county’s Metropolitan Transportation Agency board of directors said they expect some of the changes to bus routes to be implemented in December in areas that have the most need for service improvements. The plan is to have most of the new bus routes implemented by June, and all route changes are planned to be in service by December 2021. The plan prioritizes bus travel on the county’s busiest streets. In September, Metro’s board approved a $400 billion, 30-year transportation plan that seeks to address needs across the county, which includes the NextGen plan.
Santa Clara County makes it easier to build housing for agricultural workers
San Jose Spotlight – October 28
Citing a severe shortage of housing for farmworkers, Santa Clara County has paved the way to build more units by relaxing zoning and streamlining the permitting process. In the 1990s, Santa Clara County expected a need for about 2,800 new agricultural housing units — both single family and group housing — in the next 15 years. Today, there are still less than 1,800. Until the zoning changes approved by the Board of Supervisors on October 20, only permanent farm housing was allowed. Projects required a use permit that cost $14,000 and took up to nine months to receive. The county will now require a simpler and cheaper special permit or planning clearance, costing $500 to $6,000, depending on whether the project is for short-term or long-term housing. The lack of housing for farmworkers and their families has been an ongoing issue statewide.