Critical housing bills signed by Governor Newsom
Allen Matkins – September 17
As the State of California battles through a housing crisis, lawmakers are seeking creative ways to enable local governments to meet their long-term housing needs and produce housing more quickly. On September 16, 2021, Governor Newsom signed the following Senate bills into law: SB 10 (Senator Wiener), which allows cities and counties to up-zone certain properties for up to ten dwelling units without California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review; SB 9 (Senator Atkins), which allows for the approval of duplexes and two-lot parcel maps without CEQA review; and SB 8 (Senator Skinner), which extends the term of the Housing Crisis Act. While SB 9 and SB 10 will likely not result in a dramatic increase in housing production, they serve as incremental steps toward that goal.
Housing developer prevails in key Housing Accountability Act case
Allen Matkins – September 20
California’s First District Court of Appeal recently issued a consequential decision reining in the ability of local agencies to deny housing projects under the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) based on alleged noncompliance with design standards. In California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CARLA) v. City of San Mateo (Case Nos. A159320, A159658, September 10, 2021), the court was specifically tasked with interpreting – for the first time – the meaning of “objective” in the context of design standards that may be applied by local agencies to deny an otherwise qualifying housing project under the HAA. This case will likely have implications for housing developers seeking to benefit from the HAA and local agencies seeking to deny those projects.
Governor Newsom announces $2.75B expansion of Homekey, biggest homeless investment in state history
CBS S.F. Bay Area – September 9
Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $2.75 billion expansion of the state’s homeless housing initiative last Thursday, which is the biggest investment in homeless housing in the state’s history. The massive investment into California’s Homekey initiative will be used to purchase and rehabilitate buildings such as hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings, tiny homes, and other properties. The governor’s office expects the investment will result in around 14,000 permanent, long-term housing options for the state’s homeless.
Sonoma County is one step closer to banning new gas stations
Sonoma County Gazette – September 14
The Regional Climate Protection Authority, a group that coordinates climate protection efforts among the Sonoma County’s nine cities and multiple agencies, voted unanimously this week to adopt a resolution urging the county and all of its cities to prohibit the construction of new gas stations. In February 2021, Petaluma adopted its first-in-the-nation prohibition for construction of new gas stations within city limits. Santa Rosa, Cotati, and Sebastopol have been exploring similar bans.
San Diego tracking ‘urban heat islands’ in low-income neighborhoods as temperatures rise
The San Diego Union-Tribune – September 13
Students and other volunteers strapped heat sensors on cars and bicycles on Monday before setting out to gather temperature data in low-income neighborhoods across the city of San Diego. Areas with large swaths of pavement and concrete and sparse tree cover, have been dubbed “urban heat islands,” where, according to NOAA research, temperatures can reach up to 20 degrees hotter than in more affluent coastal communities. The city plans to use the data collected to help draft an adaptation plan called Climate Resilient SD. The blueprint, which is slated to be released for public review this fall, is aimed at protecting those residents most vulnerable to climate change.
Green properties return more green to investors, study finds
Bisnow – September 8
LEED-certified U.S. office buildings have achieved higher rents overall since 2015 than their non-certified counterparts, according to a new study by Cushman & Wakefield. The greener properties averaged $4.13, or 11.1%, higher rents. More sustainable properties have also outperformed less green counterparts during recession recovery periods over a longer timeline, including both the financial crisis of the late 2000s and the coronavirus shock. Even during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, LEED-certified assets tended to have lower vacancy rates than other buildings, the report says.