Construction of high-speed rail line delayed as bond sale postponed
Las Vegas Review-Journal – November 2
Construction on a long-anticipated high-speed train between Las Vegas and Southern California that was to begin this year has been delayed indefinitely because of financing issues. Brightline West announced last Friday that it was delaying a $2.4 billion bond offering that would have funded the initial work on the planned $8 billion project. The company tied the delay to market conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and this being an election year. The project, also known as XpressWest, has been in discussions for over a decade, with the Fortress Investment Group-backed Brightline coming into the fold in 2018.
Los Angeles City Council delays vote on banning homeless camps
Los Angeles Times – October 28
A divided Los Angeles City Council backed off last Wednesday from voting on a proposal that would have allowed the removal of homeless encampments anywhere in the city — if shelter is first offered to those living in them. Facing intense opposition from the public and some of their colleagues, the seven council members who pressed for the amendments to the city’s anti-camping ordinance were unable to muster a majority to move it to a quick adoption. The proposed ordinance, prepared by City Attorney Mike Feuer in less than a week after several council members requested it, would also allow the city to remove homeless camps under freeway underpasses and near homeless shelters without the condition of offering shelter.
San Francisco commercial eviction ban could be extended to March 31
San Francisco Examiner – November 2
Small businesses could have until March 2023 to repay back rent under changes made this Monday to proposed legislation on commercial evictions. Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced new protections for small businesses to chart long-term plans as they negotiate rent with landlords. The legislation, originally introduced in September and brought back to the Land Use and Transportation Committee on Monday, would extend San Francisco’s commercial eviction ban to March 31 and give eligible tenants up to two years to repay missed payments. The city’s commercial eviction moratorium, issued and incrementally extended by Mayor London Breed, is set to expire at the end of November. The Land Use and Transportation Committee will discuss the item again next Monday.
Walnut Creek approves 5-year transit plan that aims to reduce vehicular traffic
The Mercury News – October 22
The Walnut Creek City Council unanimously approved a five-year transportation strategy plan this week that city officials say will encourage more residents to utilize public transit options in lieu of personal vehicles. The city’s “Rethinking Mobility” plan places targets for reducing the congestion of vehicle traffic moving into, out of and around Walnut Creek. In turn, the plan is intended to increase the use of BART, ride booking services like Uber and Lyft, dockless scooters and bicycles, and the city’s bus network to reduce superfluous short vehicle trips.
As stores struggle, Palo Alto prepares to let offices fill retail spaces
Palo Alto Online – October 28
Seeking to stem the economic damage from the COVID-19 pandemic, Palo Alto is weighing a measure that could shake up the local retail scene: allowing banks, law firms, and other office uses to replace shops and restaurants in many parts of the city. The proposal, which the City Council will consider on November 9, would modify the city’s definitions of “retail” and “retail-like” uses to encompass certain types of office space. It also calls for imposing size limitations on these office uses to make sure they don’t occupy too much space in commercial corridors. If approved, the changes would represent a dramatic shift of direction for the council, which has enacted numerous laws over the past five years to protect retail establishments from office conversions.
Dogged by a lawsuit, Palo Alto City Council votes to open exclusive park to the public
San Francisco Chronicle – November 3
Palo Alto’s City Council voted this Monday to overturn a controversial decades-old policy prohibiting outsiders from entering the bucolic Foothills Park. The vote came after the ACLU of Northern California sued Palo Alto in September, stating that its park policy was unconstitutional, discriminatory, and “a legacy of the city’s history of racial discrimination.” Access to the park has been restricted to Palo Alto residents, city employees, and their guests since 1969, when the city adopted an ordinance allowing fines of up to $1,000 and jail sentences of up to a month for nonresidents caught using the park. The terms of settlement will be finalized and made available to the public before the final ordinance is approved by the City Council on Nov. 16.