Sustainable Development and Land Use Update - April 2019 #4

Allen Matkins
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High-profile California housing bill clears hurdle after tense debate over local control

■Los Angeles Times - April 24

High-profile housing legislation to allow mid-rise apartment construction near mass transit across California advanced in a state Senate committee Wednesday after two lawmakers reached an agreement that would limit its effect on smaller counties and along the coast, but eliminate zoning that allows for only single-family homes in much of the state. Under changes to Senate Bill 50 (SB 50), communities in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and 13 other counties with populations larger than 600,000 would have to allow four- to five-story apartment buildings near rail lines, and smaller apartments and townhomes in wealthy neighborhoods near job centers. But in smaller counties, including Marin, Santa Cruz, and Santa Barbara, cities would be required to permit height increases near rail lines one story taller than existing zoning as well as fourplexes in many single-family-only areas. SB 50 has to clear the Senate by the end of May and the Legislature by mid-September. Governor Gavin Newsom has yet to take a position on the bill.

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News

S.F. landlords must now register vacant properties

■San Francisco Chronicle - April 22

A new law that went into effect in San Francisco on Monday requires building owners to register a vacant or abandoned storefront within 30 days of it becoming empty, regardless of whether it is advertised for sale or lease. The annual registration fee is $711, and the cost for businesses that do not comply is a one-time penalty of $2,844. The glut of vacancies around the city has long frustrated city officials, who say empty storefronts not only hurt neighborhood character, but also hurt other businesses by decreasing foot traffic in the area. While the Department of Building Inspection already requires landlords to register empty properties, that database does not show a full picture because it is complaint-driven and self-reported. Supervisor Aaron Peskin also plans to propose a measure for the November ballot that would tax property owners with consistently empty units.

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Utilities want to build charging stations along West Coast freeways

■Jefferson Public Radio - April 19

Utilities from San Diego to Seattle are looking for ways to revolutionize the trucking industry. Their latest plan? To build electric-vehicle charging stations along the entire Interstate 5 corridor. The study will focus on I-5, but it will also look at main connector routes, including Interstate 80 near Sacramento and Interstate 10 in Southern California. Utilities from Oregon and Washington are also involved. The plan is to complete the study by the end of this year, with the first installation of chargers by early 2020.

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S.F. mayor unveils plan to power city's buildings with 100% renewable electricity

■SFGate - April 22

Mayor London Breed on Monday unveiled a plan to transition San Francisco's largest private commercial buildings to 100 percent renewable electricity over the next decade. The move would bring the city closer to its goal of running entirely on renewable electricity by 2050. In addition to the ordinance, Breed also announced that she's directing the Department of Environment to put together a public-private task force to examine how best to electrify the city's buildings, both old and new. The task force is expected to produce an outline for decarbonizing buildings sometime in early 2020.

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Rent control could be back on California ballot by 2020

■The Mercury News - April 22

The rent control advocates who introduced Proposition 10 last year are back — and they’re launching a new campaign to get the issue on the ballot as soon as 2020. The new initiative would allow individual cities and counties to impose rent control laws on residential properties that are at least 15 years old — a controversial move that would increase the number of rent-controlled units in the state. The proposed 2020 ballot measure, dubbed the Rental Affordability Act, is a scaled-back version of Proposition 10, which voters rejected last year.

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Oceanside proposes limits on short-term rentals

■San Diego Union-Tribune - April 24

Oceanside has proposed new limits on short-term vacation rentals that some people say have allowed “hotel homes” to disrupt older residential areas and bring chaos to beach neighborhoods where the rentals are concentrated. The city has more than 900 registered short-term rentals and estimates several hundred more are unregistered. The proposed ordinance would establish inspections, occupancy limits, parking requirements, a permit fee, and provide increased code enforcement. Gated residential communities would be exempt from most of the city’s regulations where homeowners associations control the rentals.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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