Sustainable Development Update - March 2019

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Proposed state legislation takes aim at local zoning restrictions

■Urbanize Los Angeles - February 21

Senator Nancy Skinner of Oakland has introduced SB 330, which would curtail the ability of cities and counties to rezone properties to decrease their developable potential. The bill, if adopted, would be in effect until January 1, 2030. The legislation comes as new research out of the UC Berkeley School of Law shows that two Los Angeles County cities - Pasadena and Santa Monica specifically - take significantly longer than 12 months to approve new housing developments.

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News

Construction underway on sustainable UC Davis apartment complex

■Sacramento Bee - February 26

The ground on the quad was soaking wet, but city and campus leaders came together at UC Davis on Tuesday for a groundbreaking ceremony, and to reveal the official name of the university’s huge student housing development. The Green at West Village, located adjacent to Highway 113 and in the early stages of construction, will be composed of nine four-story apartments, which will provide 3,300 of the nearly 5,200 beds the university has promised to add on-campus by fall 2023. The name represents the development’s environmentally sustainable, net-zero energy status.

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County wants authority over L.A. River flood-control channels owned by U.S. government

■Los Angeles Times - February 24

Los Angeles County officials are proposing to take ownership of 40 miles of flood-control channels along the Los Angeles River from the federal government to expedite maintenance and water conservation improvements as climate change increases the frequency of extreme weather. The move was spurred by concerns that the Army Corps of Engineers’ World War II-era channels have not been adequately maintained because of dwindling federal funds. Bringing the channels under the authority of the county, officials said, could expedite groundwater storage projects, as well as efforts to restore areas for habitat, recreational amenities, and residential, commercial, and office development.

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S.F. landlords with empty storefronts could face fees if space isn’t filled

■San Francisco Chronicle - February 25

Landlords may have to register their empty storefronts with the city or face a fine, if an ordinance approved Monday by the Board of Supervisors' Land Use and Transportation Committee becomes law. While there is a glut of vacant storefronts around San Francisco, the city does not have a full picture on how many there actually are due to loopholes in the building code. The ordinance, written by Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, would close these loopholes by requiring building owners to register a vacant or abandoned storefront within 30 days of it being empty, regardless of whether it is advertised for sale or lease.

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L.A. Metro approves congestion pricing study

■San Diego Union-Tribune - February 28

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Thursday voted unanimously to move forward with the region’s first comprehensive analysis of congestion pricing. One study will analyze the effects on traffic if drivers were charged a per-mile tax or an entry fee to certain neighborhoods, or if more carpool lanes were converted to toll lanes. Another study will detail how many trips are made by Uber and Lyft, what effect the ubiquitous for-hire cars have on traffic congestion, and whether adding a fee could shift some riders toward carpooling or public transit. Each study will take up to two years and will examine how a fee structure could affect traffic flow, transit ridership, and low-income commuters. No new fees would be imposed until the studies are finished, officials said. If both proposals are approved, Metro would launch a pilot program of congestion pricing and a tax on Uber and Lyft at the same time, officials said.

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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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