Despite limited success for housing bills in the 2020 legislative session, 2021 should present opportunities for developers
Allen Matkins – December 21
During the 2020 legislative session, many housing bills ended up on the cutting room floor. One bill that did make it through, AB 2345, amended the State Density Bonus Law to increase the maximum density bonus from 35% to 50% as of January 1. Coupled with mandatory Housing Element updates required for the Sixth Regional Housing Needs Assessment Cycle in major jurisdictions, there is some hope on the horizon for developers looking for opportunities.
Governor Newsom unveils new economic recovery plan
Courthouse News Service – January 5
Governor Gavin Newsom introduced a package of budget proposals on January 5 intended to help small businesses and revitalize jobs. Newsom proposed adding $575 million in small business grants on top of $500 million already planned for the program in fiscal year 2021-22, which starts July 1. Newsom also wants to allocate $500 million for jobs and long-term housing development, $353 million for workforce development, $300 million for deferred maintenance and $1.5 billion for clean-energy transportation.
How the pandemic led to a rare success in California’s effort to house the homeless
Los Angeles Times – January 1
Project Homekey buys both motels and other types of buildings, and will eventually retrofit them for permanent housing. The project followed another statewide effort, known as Project Roomkey, to move vulnerable homeless people into rented hotel rooms. The speed and flexibility the state offered local governments has resulted in one of the largest expansions in shelter for homeless people ever. Local officials credit a litany of factors, including the simplicity of the financing and the waiving of a series of regulations, including the California Environmental Quality Act. In total, over 95 projects totaling 6,000 units are planned to be purchased or have been purchased by municipalities or housing authorities, according to state officials.
California tops 2020 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard
Facility Executive – December 16
More U.S. states have adopted or advanced new energy-saving targets and vehicle and appliance rules, but COVID-19 slowed other efficiency efforts, according to the 2020 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. For the first time in four years, California took first place nationwide, edging out Massachusetts. In California, utility regulators in January approved $45 million in incentives for high-efficiency heat pump water heaters, a crucial technology for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In September, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order calling for the phase-out of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.
Landlords sue Santa Monica over short-term rental ban
Santa Monica Mirror – January 7
Landlords are suing the City of Santa Monica, claiming a recently-adopted ban on short-term rentals violates the U.S. Constitution and the California Coastal Act, among other offenses. In September 2020, Santa Monica City Council adopted a law that requires residential leases to last at least one year while also prohibiting furnished apartments. In addition, the ordinance states apartments can only be rented to tenants intending the unit to be their primary residence. On December 14, over 30 limited liability companies filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, arguing that their landlords’ properties are dependent on a business model that facilitates flexible-term leasing and furnished units.
Hollywood puts the spotlight on solar
Commercial Property Executive – December 19
In fall 2018, Netflix signed a 10-year lease to fully occupy EPIC, an edgy 13-story, 327,913-square-foot office building developed by Hudson Pacific Properties in Hollywood. The space was delivered in the first quarter of 2020. EPIC is the first commercial building in Los Angeles to use building-integrated photovoltaics. Solar power in urban areas is usually accessed via the roof of a building, the parking structure or a carport. But the latest technology in solar energy renewables now integrates the panels into the building’s envelope.