L.A. City Planning drafts plan to increase housing and affordable housing by 2029
Spectrum News – July 1
The Los Angeles Department of City Planning and the Housing and Community Investment Department last Thursday released a plan to accommodate the production of nearly 500,000 housing units, with more than 200,000 units reserved for lower-income residents. If adopted by the City Council, the Housing Element would guide Los Angeles' housing policy from 2021 to 2029. The most recent Housing Element was adopted in 2013 and remains in effect through the end of the year. The new plan includes a rezoning program that would increase density in resource-rich neighborhoods.
Single-use plastic water bottles to be phased out at LAX and Van Nuys Airport by 2023
CBS Los Angeles – July 9
A new plan to phase out single-use plastic water bottles has been approved for Los Angeles International Airport and Van Nuys Airport. Under the new policy, single-use plastic water bottles must be replaced with sustainable alternatives, including recyclable aluminum, glass, or certified compostable material. The phase-out of waste reduction and water management are part of LAWA’s Sustainability Action Plan, which seeks to achieve net zero for LAX and Van Nuys Airport by the year 2045 in several areas, e.g.: no potable water consumed for non-potable uses, zero carbon emissions from LAWA operations, and zero waste.
Federal judge dismisses lawsuit by restaurant lobby against Berkeley’s ban on natural gas
Berkeleyside – July 7
A challenge to Berkeley’s landmark 2019 legislation banning natural gas in the city’s newest buildings was dismissed Tuesday after a federal judge ruled that the regulation didn’t violate federal statutes that prohibit laws against specific types of appliances. The battle might continue, however, as California’s powerful restaurant lobby says that it plans to appeal the decision. Berkeley was the first city in the U.S. to approve such a law. The regulation prohibits natural gas infrastructure (such as gas hookups) in any new building for which permits were applied for after Jan. 1, 2020. The law allows for exceptions when all-electric construction isn’t feasible, and it does not apply to existing buildings or to renovations of or additions to current structures.
Cost of lumber leads Silicon Valley builders to embrace new tech
San Jose Spotlight – July 5
Lumber prices have historically hovered below $500 per thousand board foot. But prices rose dramatically in August 2020, peaking at a price of $1,670 per thousand board foot on May 2 of this year. Rising construction costs, including materials, play a major role in developers’ ability to break ground on critically-needed housing projects in San Jose. Geoffrey Morgan, president and CEO of affordable housing developer First Community Housing, said residential builders have to build denser housing to make projects financially feasible. This higher density results in taller buildings that use a lot of wood. Morgan said a concrete and steel-based building is expensive, unless the building owners decide to charge high rents. So his company looked at other solutions, including new building technologies such as modular construction and mass timber.
After decades of fighting and freeways, Orange County is finally getting a streetcar
Los Angeles Times – July 7
As metropolitan areas around California built urban rail systems over the last few decades, one was a notable holdout: Orange County. Proposals for urban rail systems came and went, failing to generate much support and demonized by critics as a waste of taxpayer money. But with traffic worsening and rail gaining traction — particularly among young people — the county is finally about to take a ride, albeit a short one. The OC Streetcar system, a $423-million project slated for completion in 2023, will comprise only six light-rail vehicles and will cover a bit more than four miles, linking the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center to strip-mall-lined streets near Little Saigon.