Sustainable Development and Land Use Update 2.22.24

Allen Matkins


Berkeley must pay $4M after illegally blocking housing project at Ohlone shellmound site

Bullet Berkeleyside – February 16

The city of Berkeley will pay $4 million in connection with its mishandling of an application to build 260 housing units on the old Spenger's parking lot. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch fined Berkeley $2.6 million last week for violating the terms of the Housing Accountability Act when it denied a developer's application to use a state law — SB 35 — to fast-track through ministerial review the project for 1900 Fourth St. The developer had been seeking a $39 million fine. The money will go into the city's Housing Trust Fund to be used to build affordable housing. Berkeley also paid $1.4 million to reimburse the developer for its attorney's fees. The legal battle between Berkeley and the developer is in its sixth year.


U.S. Supreme Court won't hear challenge to rent stabilization laws

Bullet Reuters – February 20

The U.S. Supreme Court last Tuesday turned away a bid by landlords to challenge rent stabilization laws in New York City that cap rent hikes and make it harder to evict tenants. The justices declined to hear appeals by property owners and industry groups of lower court rulings that found the price and eviction controls did not violate what is known as the "takings clause" of the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment, which bars the government from taking property without compensating owners. According to proponents, rent stabilization measures protect communities by reducing tenant dislocation and homelessness, and by allowing residents to have long-term homes in a neighborhood.

Four L.A. City Council members look to incentivize larger family housing

Bullet MyNewsLA – February 9

Four Los Angeles City Council members last Friday introduced a motion to incentivize developers to build more large family housing across the city. Council President Paul Krekorian, alongside council members Nithya Raman, Eunisses Hernandez, and Katy Yaroslavsky are calling for an increase of rental units with three or more bedrooms for multi-generational families, and allow seniors who have adequate care to stay with their loved ones. If the full council approves the motion, the Department of City Planning will prepare an ordinance that would establish a new density bonus for large family units in multi-family buildings.

Racist history lives on in millions of housing records. L.A. County is about to fix that

Bullet Los Angeles Times – February 6

Racially restrictive covenants were commonplace in Los Angeles County in the early 1900s, ending only after the U.S. Supreme Court and federal law barred their enforcement. But if you buy a house in L.A. County today built before 1968, you'd probably still see the language in your land records. But that's soon to change. In response to a new state law, L.A. County has hired a company for about $8 million to redact racially restrictive covenant language from millions of county records. The process, which is expected to take at least seven years, begins this year.

California officials take a rare stance against YIMBYs, side with Bay Area city

Bullet San Francisco Chronicle – February 9

For the past year, cities throughout California have grown accustomed to bad news from the state agency charged with enforcing an ever-growing list of laws aimed at increasing housing production. But last week the small San Mateo County city of Brisbane actually got some good news from the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The agency ruled that Brisbane, which has fewer than 5,000 residents, did not violate state housing element laws by missing a deadline related to the massive redevelopment of the Baylands, the 660-acre railyard and former landfill planned for 4,000 housing units.

Los Angeles City Planning Commission signs off on new zoning for the Harbor community plans

Bullet Urbanize Los Angeles – February 8

After completing updates for four different community plans in 2023, the City of Los Angeles is looking to pick up the pace in 2024. On February 8, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission voted to approve the Harbor LA Community Plan update - the simultaneous amendments of the Wilmington and Harbor-Gateway community plans. The Planning Department expects that the new rules will accommodate up to 47,200 homes, versus 36,275 under current conditions. Growth in the Harbor plans would be steered into "Opportunity Areas," which comprise approximately 6 percent of the total plan land area.

Lake Tahoe plan for more housing draws ire

Bullet Courthouse News Service – February 9

A conservation group sued Lake Tahoe's planning agency last Friday over a plan to allow for more housing development throughout parts of the 501 square-mile Tahoe Basin, which straddles the scenic lake that sits on the border of California and Nevada. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, a bi-state compact, approved a set of amendments to its regional plan in December that would increase height limits, and remove density limits, parking requirements, and requirements for set-backs in much the Tahoe area, particularly in the town centers.

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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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