Bold San Diego plan for ‘complete communities’ getting mixed reviews
The San Diego Union-Tribune – May 15
A San Diego plan to address the city’s housing crisis in a more holistic way by creating vibrant and complete communities is getting mixed reviews from the development industry and community leaders. While there is nearly unanimous praise for the plan’s goal of encouraging housing projects that come with increased transportation options, infrastructure, parks, and other amenities, critiques of the plan include concerns that it might accelerate gentrification in low-income areas, it appeals only to small-scale developers, and it does not include transitional areas between low-density and high-density housing. The Planning Commission last Thursday voted 5-2 to support the plan, which is called Complete Communities Housing Solutions, and forwarded it to the City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee for further review. Under the proposal, developers would be eligible for a variety of incentives if they meet a set of criteria, such as building their apartment or condominium projects near transit lines, including rent-restricted units for low-income residents, and adding neighborhood amenities.
Judge issues order for L.A. to move homeless living near freeways, citing health concerns
Los Angeles Times – May 16
Thousands of homeless people living near freeways in Los Angeles County are in line to receive alternative shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic after a federal court judge ordered local authorities to find them housing. The preliminary injunction, issued last Friday by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, requires city, county, and homelessness officials to provide space in shelters or alternative housing for the estimated 6,000 to 7,000 county residents living near freeway overpasses, underpasses, and ramps. The most significant new program to house homeless residents during the pandemic is Project Roomkey, a statewide effort that uses empty hotel and motel rooms. In Los Angeles, however, just over 2,000 previously homeless residents are sheltered with about 500 other beds available, according to information provided in court Friday, not nearly enough space to comply with Carter’s order.
San Diego approves first local ‘fast-track’ housing project under 2008 state law
The San Diego Union-Tribune – May 14
San Diego became the first city in the region last week to take advantage of a 2008 state law that makes it easier for developers to build dense housing projects near transit lines. The City Council voted unanimously that a 156-unit housing and commercial project proposed near a new trolley line in western Clairemont meets all of the criteria of Senate Bill 375, which accelerates construction timelines by streamlining environmental approvals. The law allows developers to skip the expensive and time-consuming analysis usually required under the California Environmental Quality Act. Council members said this could be the first of many projects along the new trolley line to take advantage of the state law, which has been used many times in Los Angeles and Santa Monica.
MWD launches innovative recycling plan
Engineering News-Record - May 19
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) is piloting a bold new initiative to produce an additional regional water source through its Regional Recycled Water Program, which aims to take treated sanitation water and purify it to produce high-quality drinking water. The program includes the use of an advanced water-purification system that would be the first of its kind in the U.S. In light of its efforts to meet Southern California’s need for an additional water source through innovation and efficiency, ENR California named MWD its Owner of the Year for 2020. The $3.4-billion plan could produce up to 150 million gallons of purified water daily, addressing the needs of more than 500,000 homes and industrial facilities. If successful, a full-scale plant could provide recycled water treated from the Carson plant, water that is currently discharged into the ocean. By treating the region’s largest untapped source of wastewater, the program aims to address Southern California’s critical need for a regional water supply.
Study finds vegetation changes can increase groundwater recharge
AZO Cleantech – May 18
Controlled grazing of drylands is the most comprehensive form of land use on Earth, resulting in large-scale efforts to reverse this trend and revive grass cover because of the opinion that it leads to less water entering groundwater aquifers and streams. According to a new study led by Adam Schreiner-McGraw, a postdoctoral hydrology researcher at the University of California, Riverside, encroachment of shrubs on slopes can increase the quantity of water that reaches the groundwater storage. The researchers used data collected from a highly tracked desert mountain slope in New Mexico to mimic the impacts of the encroachment of woody plants and climate change on water resources. They found that the shrubs increased focused recharge of groundwater even under conditions in which the amount of rainfall was reduced due to climate change. According to the researchers, although the study was performed in New Mexico, it is applicable to similar environments. Southern California and the Central Valley include landforms such as those found in the New Mexico research site.