California lawmakers eye limits on housing project fees
Associated Press – February 25
In their latest bid to combat California’s affordable housing crisis, state lawmakers this Monday announced a package of bills to limit development fees that can add tens of thousands of dollars to the price of a new home. However, local governments depend heavily on the fees, which typically are used to pay for schools, roads, and parks. Lawmakers said they were discussing those needs but have not yet decided how the fees might be replaced. Development-related fees, also known as impact fees, can provide up to a third of some cities’ budgets, according to a report published last year by the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation. They vary widely depending on location, the center found, amounting to anywhere from 6 percent to 18 percent of the median price of a new home.
California backtracks on solar rule for new homes, critics say
Los Angeles Times – February 20
California officials voted last Thursday to allow Sacramento-area developers to build homes without solar panels — a move solar installers and environmentalists said would undermine the state’s first-in-the-nation home solar requirement. Under the proposal from Sacramento Municipal Utility District, home builders will be able to take credit for electricity generated by off-site solar farms, instead of constructing houses with rooftop solar panels. The utility plans to make enough off-site solar power available to serve all demand from new residential construction. Supporters said the “community solar” program would reduce the carbon emissions fueling the climate crisis, without pushing up home prices in a state facing rising homelessness and a shortage of affordable housing. Critics countered that the whole point of the rooftop solar mandate, approved in 2018, was to make clean energy a standard feature of new homes.
Los Angeles considers plan to let transit riders skip lines at LAX
Smart Cities Dive - February 20
The Los Angeles City Council voted last Wednesday to advance exploration of a plan that would give travelers priority at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) security checkpoints, if they arrive by public transit. The vote directs Los Angeles World Airports, the authority that oversees LAX, to write a report on the feasibility of establishing such a program. Boston’s Logan International Airport implemented a similar plan in 2019, and within months ridership on the Logan Express bus from the Back Bay doubled compared to the previous year.
State bill to toll Highway 37 to prepare for sea level rise
The Mercury News – February 22
Highway 37 may become a toll road under a new state bill introduced last Friday. Toll revenues would be used to fund major rebuild and flood protections of the busy East Bay-North Bay connector in preparation for sea level rise and flooding impacts. The bill’s author Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa, said the urgency, high cost, and looming consequences require “bold action” to address current and future flooding. The bill would implement the first major climate change adaptation project in the Bay Area road system, Dodd said.
DOE sued over light bulb efficiency rollback
The Hill – February 25
A coalition of environmental and consumer protection groups sued the Department of Energy (DOE) this Tuesday over its move to block a measure designed to require more efficient light bulbs. The administration announced the rollback, which applies to widely-used, pear-shaped incandescent light bulbs, late last year, arguing the efficiency measure would be too expensive for consumers. The legal action follows a suit by the same groups over a different administration light bulb rollback, which removed Obama-era efficiency standards for recessed lighting, chandeliers, and other shapes of bulbs.