SFGate – September 29
A bill prompted by the Moms 4 Housing occupation of a vacant West Oakland home late last year and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom this Monday aims to increase homeownership in the state. Senate Bill 1079, introduced by state Senate Majority Whip Nancy Skinner, requires foreclosed homes to be sold individually at auction rather than bundled and sold to a single buyer. Following the Great Recession, corporations purchased large numbers of homes in bundled foreclosure sales. Between 2006 and 2012, the number of owner-occupied single-family homes in California dropped by 320,000, while the number of renter-occupied single-family homes jumped by 720,000, according to the senator’s office. The bill applies to residential properties with one to four units.
San Francisco Chronicle – September 28
Public transit agencies will be able to temporarily bypass environmental reviews and fast-track projects such as bike lanes, bus routes, and light-rail service under a bill signed this Monday by Governor Gavin Newsom. Senate Bill 288, authored by state Senator Scott Wiener, exempts “sustainable transportation projects” from the California Environmental Quality Act for the next two years. It will allow planners to skip a study of the potential effects of their projects on air quality, infrastructure, and other environmental criteria, which can add months or even years to the development process and can sometimes be used to block them altogether. Wiener said the bill would promote projects that could reduce driving and carbon emissions, while also cutting time and costs for public transit agencies that are struggling financially because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Smart Cities Dive – September 28
An updated $400 billion, 30-year transportation plan approved last week by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors pledges a “more mobile, sustainable, and vibrant future for Los Angeles County.” Under the plan, LA Metro will build more than 100 miles of rail in the next three decades, which it says is the “most aggressive transit expansion plan in the nation.” LA Metro also pledged to invest in arterial and freeway projects to reduce traffic congestion, as well as bicycle and pedestrian projects to improve biking access to the city’s downtown. LA Metro said it will also look to prioritize bus travel on the county’s busiest streets and implement its NextGen Bus Plan to make service faster and more frequent.
Fox5 – September 30
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this Wednesday to rescind the Climate Action Plan it adopted in February 2018 and move forward in creating a replacement. Various environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Environmental Center of San Diego, filed a petition challenging the 2018 plan as violating the California Environmental Quality Act. Golden Door Properties also filed a lawsuit on similar grounds. In December 2018, a San Diego Superior Court judge agreed, ordering the county to vacate the plan and certification of the supplemental environmental impact report. The judge ruled that the plan didn’t comply with county or state goals for reduced emissions.
School Construction News – September 29
The University of California, Davis opened the first phase of The Green at West Village student housing project, adding more than 1,000 beds to the University’s West Village neighborhood. Once the entire project is complete, the housing complex will add nearly 3,300 beds to the campus, making it the largest student housing development currently under construction in the U.S. With its expansive solar electric arrays, The Green contributes to the overall neighborhood goal of zero net energy, which means the project is designed to generate as much energy as it uses within a year. The project is also targeting LEED Silver and provides attention to various aspects of sustainability including careful material selections, minimizing site impacts, reduction of energy use by using efficient MEP systems, and optimal building orientation.
Bloomberg CityLab – September 23
With global short-term rental giant Airbnb moving towards its own IPO, the company has introduced a new product that seeks to address recent safety concerns and answer the data-sharing requests that critics have long claimed make the company a less-than-perfect partner for local leaders. The Airbnb City Portal, which launched this week as a pilot program with 15 global cities and tourism agencies, aims to provide municipal staff with more efficient access to data about listings, including whether or not they’re complying with local laws. Each city, including Buffalo, San Francisco, and Seattle, will have access to a new data dashboard as well as a dedicated staffer at Airbnb.