Governor Newsom signs bill expediting the environmental review process for certain housing projects
Courthouse News Service – May 20
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed into law Senate Bill 7, which will allow qualifying housing projects to benefit from a fast-tracked review process already offered for other major developments. Under SB 7, backed by state Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and a coalition of construction trade unions, state courts will have 270 days to decide CEQA lawsuits filed against housing projects in the $15-100 million range. In addition, developers will have to submit plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions during the construction phase and designate at least 15% of the new units as affordable housing.
Ruling could have statewide effect on housing development
The San Diego Union-Tribune – May 15
A San Diego Superior Court ruling that invalidates an Oceanside referendum could boost efforts to meet a statewide housing shortage, but it also may imperil the increasing use of citizen ballot initiatives to stop development projects. Judge Richard S. Whitney based his decision on Government Code 66300, also known as the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, which was written to "maximize the development of housing" as California works to solve its problems with rapidly rising rents, homelessness, and real estate costs. Whitney said the act invalidates the November citizen’s ballot initiative that overturned the Oceanside City Council’s 2019 approval of the 585-home North River Farms project by a 2-1 margin. If the decision is not appealed and the developer overcomes other litigation, the project could proceed.
Biden decarbonization focus shifts to buildings, with goal to triple efficiency, see up to $200B in savings
Utility Dive – May 19
The Biden administration said on Monday that it will invest $30 million into workforce initiatives designed to train people to construct and maintain high-performance buildings that utilize renewables, efficient lighting, and energy demand management, among other clean energy technologies. The U.S. Department of Energy also released a grid-interactive efficient buildings "roadmap," which includes more than a dozen recommendations to integrate buildings with solar and wind power through demand management and storage. The agency estimates such buildings could create savings up to $200 billion through 2040.
San Diego County supervisors to debate fees for development in car-centric areas
KPBS – May 17
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is set this week to discuss a proposal that would slap new fees on development in car-centric communities, with the goal of incentivizing growth in more urban neighborhoods. The fees would be calculated based on the additional "vehicle miles traveled," or VMT, that a project would induce. For example, an apartment building in a neighborhood close to public transit and jobs would see little to no fees. Staffers are floating a range of options, and it will likely be several months before the new policy gets a final vote.
Newsom budget proposes $11B for transit, focusing on bullet train and L.A. Olympics
KTLA – May 14
Governor Gavin Newsom last Friday proposed spending an additional $11 billion on transportation improvements, much of it for a troubled bullet train intended to eventually link California’s major metropolitan areas and for projects supporting the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The plan also includes improving public transportation and encouraging more use of zero-emission vehicles.
Fourplexes could be coming to S.F. corner lot near you, if new legislation passes
San Francisco Chronicle – May 18
A San Francisco lawmaker is proposing legislation to make four-unit buildings legal on corner lots in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes, but some housing advocates are already criticizing the proposed law as too narrow and watered down to actually generate new units. The legislation, introduced by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman on Tuesday, would apply on corner lots in the 60% of the city that currently excludes multifamily buildings. An earlier version of the fourplex legislation would have also applied to non-corner properties within a half mile of Muni, Caltrain, or BART transit stops.