California landowners and developers: Western Joshua Tree incidental take permits now required
Allen Matkins – October 2
On September 22, 2020, the California Fish and Game Commission accepted the Center for Biological Diversity's petition to list the Western Joshua Tree (WJT) as a candidate threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). While offering at least interim protection to this iconic plant, this action will likely further complicate the entitlement process for development projects and may affect other landowner activities within the WJT's habitat (which includes millions of acres in Southern California). Unlike the Federal Endangered Species Act (which only covers species once they are listed), CESA protects candidate species being considered for listing as threatened or endangered.
Coyote Valley: $18 million deal preserves landmark ranch property between San Jose and Morgan Hill
The Mercury News – October 6
Less than a year after a historic deal to preserve 937 acres in Coyote Valley, a coalition of government agencies and environmental groups has completed a new $18 million deal to buy another key property in the area. In a sale that closed this Monday, the groups purchased Tilton Ranch, an 1,861-acre expanse of rolling grasslands, oak trees, and serpentine rock outcroppings north of Morgan Hill. The property will be preserved for wildlife habitat, open space, hiking, horse riding, and mountain biking. The broader region was a flashpoint for battles between developers and open space advocates dating back to the 1980s. But the purchase of Tilton Ranch is the latest in at least half a dozen major acquisitions since 2014 to preserve the rural character of Silicon Valley’s southern edges.
Energy awareness brings savings during COVID-19
Commercial Property Executive – September 28
Physical occupancy in office properties was at 25 percent as of September 9, according to data collected by Kastle Systems in 10 large U.S. cities. Most people are continuing to work from home, however, many with no return date in mind. As such, property owners and managers are prioritizing energy efficiency as they grapple with fluctuating consumption levels. According to Barry Wood, LEED accredited professional and director of retail operations at JLL, improving energy efficiency is a differentiator in most buildings because utilities typically rank in the top five for expenses. Best practices depend on the facility, but Wood said they will certainly include varying the set points on chillers and rooftop equipment; ensuring the operation of chillers, cooling towers, air handlers, and roof op equipment is within the highest efficiency zone; and working with tenants to cluster workers—within CDC suggested guidelines—for lighting and cooling efficiencies.
Governor Newsom signs bill to streamline NAVWAR transit hub in San Diego’s Midway District
ABC10 News San Diego – October 1
Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2731 last week, which will allow the San Diego Association of Governments to quicken the environmental review process in order to build a transit hub connecting to San Diego International Airport and redevelop the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command Old Town campus site, should the Navy partner with SANDAG. The bill will also require the transit hub to meet high environmental benchmarks, such as LEED Gold certification, reducing vehicle miles by 25%, and greenhouse gas neutrality in exchange for the streamlined environmental process.
USGBC expands green building resilience resources
Smart Cities Dive – October 2
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Green Business Certification Inc. released an expanded suite of resources and resilience tools to support green building initiatives, helping cities and businesses mitigate the economic effects of COVID-19 and the worsening impacts of climate change. The resources include the "LEED for cities and communities program" to help enhance building resilience; a roadmap for operating and designing energy systems in the face of potential disasters; and educational materials about resiliency within the green building industry, among other tools. USGBC also partnered with Coastal Risk Consulting on a new RiskFootprint tool, which enables building owners, architects, and engineers to assess a building's vulnerability to climate risks such as flooding or earthquakes.
Congestion pricing for downtown S.F. is an idea that’s come around again
San Francisco Chronicle – October 4
The San Francisco County Transportation Authority is seeking “community input” for a study on charging up to $12 for the privilege of driving into the downtown area during rush hour. It’s called congestion pricing. Any toll would need the approval of the Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom. He refused to do that last year when state lawmakers voted to support the city’s plan for a toll on San Francisco’s famously crooked Lombard Street to help manage tourist traffic backups. The study’s recommendations are scheduled to be presented to the County Transportation Authority board next spring.