Surplus Government Properties

There have been many housing bills passed in the last few years by our California State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Brown. There are different puzzle pieces scattered among these bills which I believe pieced together creates this scenario:

  • Cities and municipalities must prioritize the sale or lease of surplus government owned properties to a housing sponsor for the purpose of developing low- and moderate-income housing. The law even allows these properties to be sold at below market value if they are near transit.
  • A housing development company will buy or lease and propose building a housing development. They may ask for input from the surrounding community and propose a plan for a project of reasonable density for the area.
  • The city or municipality must change zoning to accommodate this housing development.
  • The city or municipality must prepare a yearly housing report (per SB 35 passed in 2017) which includes a listing of surplus city owned properties and properties which have been sold to increase housing. One of the categories to list on this report is “Residentially zoned sites that are capable of being developed at a higher density, including the airspace above sites owned or leased by a city, county, or city and county.” This report needs to be completed as of the end of the year. The first year the report will be completed will be as of December 31, 2018.
  • Per several bills passed in 2017, non-profit housing groups have been empowered to sue a city or municipality if a housing development is proposed to be built at a lower than maximum density. These properties will be showcased for them on the yearly housing report. The legal penalties are onerous, the city or municipality must pay all court costs, and the city or municipality will lose the case. The city or municipality will cave.
  • The housing development company will build the development to the highest possible density. It will be a win win for the housing development company because the profits to be made on this endeavor are very high (there are multiple taxpayer funded subsidies available that the company can collect) and they can say they didn’t intend to build such a large building but were forced to build it.

The following Government Code is already in place.

Bold italics are mine.

11011.1.

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, except Article 8.5 (commencing with Section 54235) of Chapter 5 of Part 1 of Division 2 of Title 5, the disposal of surplus state real property by the Department of General Services shall be subject to the requirements of this section. For purposes of this section, “surplus state real property” means real property declared surplus by the Legislature and directed to be disposed of by the Department of General Services, including any real property previously declared surplus by the Legislature but not yet disposed of by the Department of General Services prior to the enactment of this section.

(b) (1) The department may dispose of surplus state real property by sale, lease, exchange, a sale combined with an exchange, or other manner of disposition of property, as authorized by the Legislature, upon any terms and conditions and subject to any reservations and exceptions the department deems to be in the best interests of the state.

(2) (A) The Legislature finds and declares that the provision of decent housing for all Californians is a state goal of the highest priority. The disposal of surplus state real property is a direct and substantial public purpose of statewide concern and will serve an important public purpose, including mitigating the environmental effects of state activities. Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature that priority be given, as specified in this section, to the disposal of surplus state real property to housing for persons and families of low or moderate income, where land is suitable for housing and there is a need for housing in the community.

(B) Surplus state real property that has been determined by the department not to be needed by any state agency shall be offered to any local agency, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 54221, and then to nonprofit affordable housing sponsors, prior to being offered for sale to private entities or individuals. As used in this subdivision, “nonprofit affordable housing sponsor” means any of the following:

(i) A nonprofit corporation incorporated pursuant to Division 2 (commencing with Section 5000) of Title 1 of the Corporations Code.

(ii) A cooperative housing corporation which is a stock cooperative, as defined by Section 11003.2 of the Business and Professions Code.

(iii) A limited-dividend housing corporation.

54220.

(c) … The sale or lease of surplus land at less than fair market value to facilitate the creation of affordable housing near transit is consistent with goals and objectives to achieve optimal transportation use. The Legislature also notes that the Federal Transit Administration gives priority for funding of rail transit proposals to areas that are implementing higher-density, mixed-use, and affordable development near major transit stations.

 

 

(a) As used in this article, the term “local agency” means every city, whether organized under general law or by charter, county, city and county, and district, including school districts of any kind or class, empowered to acquire and hold real property.

(b) As used in this article, the term “surplus land” means land owned by any local agency, that is determined to be no longer necessary for the agency’s use, except property being held by the agency for the purpose of exchange.

 

 

54222.

Any local agency disposing of surplus land shall send, prior to disposing of that property, a written offer to sell or lease the property as follows:

  • A written offer to sell or lease for the purpose of developing low- and moderate-income housing shall be sent to any local public entity, as defined in Section 50079 of the Health and Safety Code, within whose jurisdiction the surplus land is located. Housing sponsors, as defined by Section 50074 of the Health and Safety Code, shall be sent, upon written request, a written offer to sell or lease surplus land for the purpose of developing low- and moderate-income housing. All notices shall be sent by first-class mail and shall include the location and a description of the property. With respect to any offer to purchase or lease pursuant to this subdivision, priority shall be given to development of the land to provide affordable housing for lower income elderly or disabled persons or households, and other lower income households.

 

54224.

Nothing in this article shall preclude a local agency, housing authority, or redevelopment agency which purchases land from a disposing agency pursuant to this article from reconveying the land to a nonprofit or for-profit housing developer for development of low- and moderate-income housing as authorized under other provisions of law.

 

54226.

This article shall not be interpreted to limit the power of any local agency to sell or lease surplus land at fair market value or at less than fair market value, and any such sale or lease at or less than fair market value consistent with this article shall not be construed as inconsistent with an agency’s purpose. No provision of this article shall be applied when it conflicts with any other provision of statutory law.

 

 

54227.

(a) In the event that any local agency disposing of surplus land receives offers for the purchase or lease of that land from more than one of the entities to which notice and an opportunity to purchase or lease shall be given pursuant to this article, the local agency shall give first priority to the entity that agrees to use the site for housing that meets the requirements of Section 54222.5. If the local agency receives offers from more than one entity that agrees to meet the requirements of Section 54222.5, then the local agency shall give priority to the entity that proposes to provide the greatest number of units that meet the requirements of Section 54222.5 at the deepest level of affordability.

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), first priority shall be given to an entity that agrees to use the site for park or recreational purposes if the land being offered is already being used and will continue to be used for park or recreational purposes, or if the land is designated for park and recreational use in the local general plan and will be developed for that purpose.

 

54230.

The board of supervisors of any county may establish a central inventory of all surplus governmental property located in such county.

 

From AB 2065, as amended, Ting. Local agencies: surplus land. Pending bill 2018

(1) Existing law prescribes requirements for the disposal of surplus land by a local agency. Existing law defines “local agency” for these purposes as every city, county, city and county, and district, including school districts of any kind or class, empowered to acquire and hold real property. Existing law defines “surplus land” for these purposes as land owned by any local agency that is determined to be no longer necessary for the agency’s use, except property being held by the agency for the purpose of exchange.

(2) Existing law requires a local agency disposing of surplus land to send, prior to disposing of that  property, a written offer to sell or lease the property to specified entities. Existing law requires that a local agency, upon a written request, send a written offer to sell or lease surplus land to a housing sponsor, as defined, for the purpose of developing low- and moderate-income housing. Existing law also requires the local agency to send a written offer to sell or lease surplus land for the purpose of developing property located within an infill opportunity zone, designated as provided, to, among others, a community redevelopment agency.

 

65589.5

(h) The following definitions apply for the purposes of this section:

(5) “Disapprove the housing development project” includes any instance in which a local agency does either of the following:

(A) Votes on a proposed housing development project application and the application is disapproved, including any required land use approvals or entitlements necessary for the issuance of a building permit.

(i) If any city, county, or city and county denies approval or imposes conditions, including design changes, lower density, or a reduction of the percentage of a lot that may be occupied by a building or structure under the applicable planning and zoning in force at the time the application is deemed complete pursuant to Section 65943, that have a substantial adverse effect on the viability or affordability of a housing development for very low, low-, or moderate-income households, and the denial of the development or the imposition of conditions on the development is the subject of a court action which challenges the denial or the imposition of conditions, then the burden of proof shall be on the local legislative body to show that its decision is consistent with the findings as described in subdivision (d) and that the findings are supported by a preponderance of the evidence in the record. For purposes of this section, “lower density” includes any conditions that have the same effect or impact on the ability of the project to provide housing.

(j) (1) When a proposed housing development project complies with applicable, objective general plan, zoning, and subdivision standards and criteria, including design review standards, in effect at the time that the housing development project’s application is determined to be complete, but the local agency proposes to disapprove the project or to impose a condition that the project be developed at a lower density, the local agency shall base its decision regarding the proposed housing development project upon written findings supported by a preponderance of the evidence on the record that both of the following conditions exist:

(A) The housing development project would have a specific, adverse impact upon the public health or safety unless the project is disapproved or approved upon the condition that the project be developed at a lower density. As used in this paragraph, a “specific, adverse impact” means a significant, quantifiable, direct, and unavoidable impact, based on objective, identified written public health or safety standards, policies, or conditions as they existed on the date the application was deemed complete.

(B) There is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the adverse impact identified pursuant to paragraph (1), other than the disapproval of the housing development project or the approval of the project upon the condition that it be developed at a lower density.

(3) For purposes of this section, the receipt of a density bonus pursuant to Section 65915 shall not constitute a valid basis on which to find a proposed housing development project is inconsistent, not in compliance, or not in conformity, with an applicable plan, program, policy, ordinance, standard, requirement, or other similar provision specified in this subdivision.

(4) For purposes of this section, “lower density” includes any conditions that have the same effect or impact on the ability of the project to provide housing.

(k) (1) (A) The applicant, a person who would be eligible to apply for residency in the development or emergency shelter, or a housing organization may bring an action to enforce this section. If, in any action brought to enforce this section, a court finds that either (i) the local agency, in violation of subdivision (d), disapproved a housing development project or conditioned its approval in a manner rendering it infeasible for the development of an emergency shelter, or housing for very low, low-, or moderate-income households, including farmworker housing, without making the findings required by this section or without making findings supported by a preponderance of the evidence, or (ii) the local agency, in violation of subdivision (j), disapproved a housing development project complying with applicable, objective general plan and zoning standards and criteria, or imposed a condition that the project be developed at a lower density, without making the findings required by this section or without making findings supported by a preponderance of the evidence, the court shall issue an order or judgment compelling compliance with this section within 60 days, including, but not limited to, an order that the local agency take action on the housing development project or emergency shelter. The court may issue an order or judgment directing the local agency to approve the housing development project or emergency shelter if the court finds that the local agency acted in bad faith when it disapproved or conditionally approved the housing development or emergency shelter in violation of this section. The court shall retain jurisdiction to ensure that its order or judgment is carried out and shall award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of suit to the plaintiff or petitioner, except under extraordinary circumstances in which the court finds that awarding fees would not further the purposes of this section. For purposes of this section, “lower density” includes conditions that have the same effect or impact on the ability of the project to provide housing.

(B) (i) Upon a determination that the local agency has failed to comply with the order or judgment compelling compliance with this section within 60 days issued pursuant to subparagraph (A), the court shall impose fines on a local agency that has violated this section and require the local agency to deposit any fine levied pursuant to this subdivision into a local housing trust fund. The local agency may elect to instead deposit the fine into the Building Homes and Jobs Fund, if Senate Bill 2 of the 2017–18 Regular Session is enacted, or otherwise in the Housing Rehabilitation Loan Fund. The fine shall be in a minimum amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per housing unit in the housing development project on the date the application was deemed complete pursuant to Section 65943. In determining the amount of fine to impose, the court shall consider the local agency’s progress in attaining its target allocation of the regional housing need pursuant to Section 65584 and any prior violations of this section. Fines shall not be paid out of funds already dedicated to affordable housing, including, but not limited to, Low and Moderate Income Housing Asset Funds, funds dedicated to housing for very low, low-, and moderate-income households, and federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program and Community Development Block Grant Program funds. The local agency shall commit and expend the money in the local housing trust fund within five years for the sole purpose of financing newly constructed housing units affordable to extremely low, very low, or low-income households. After five years, if the funds have not been expended, the money shall revert to the state and be deposited in the Building Homes and Jobs Fund, if Senate Bill 2 of the 2017–18 Regular Session is enacted, or otherwise in the Housing Rehabilitation Loan Fund, for the sole purpose of financing newly constructed housing units affordable to extremely low, very low, or low-income households.

(2) For purposes of this subdivision, “housing organization” means a trade or industry group whose local members are primarily engaged in the construction or management of housing units or a nonprofit organization whose mission includes providing or advocating for increased access to housing for low-income households and have filed written or oral comments with the local agency prior to action on the housing development project. A housing organization may only file an action pursuant to this section to challenge the disapproval of a housing development by a local agency. A housing organization shall be entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs if it is the prevailing party in an action to enforce this section.

 

65400.
  • After the legislative body has adopted all or part of a general plan, the planning agency shall do both of the following:

(2) Provide by April 1 of each year an annual report to the legislative body, the Office of Planning and Research, and the Department of Housing and Community Development that includes all of the following:

(B) The progress in meeting its share of regional housing needs determined pursuant to Section 65584 and local efforts to remove governmental constraints to the maintenance, improvement, and development of housing pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) of Section 65583.

(C) The number of housing development applications received in the prior year.

(D) The number of units included in all development applications in the prior year.

(E) The number of units approved and disapproved in the prior year.

(G) A listing of sites rezoned to accommodate that portion of the city’s or county’s share of the regional housing need for each income level that could not be accommodated on sites identified in the inventory required by paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 65583 and Section 65584.09. The listing of sites shall also include any additional sites that may have been required to be identified by Section 65863.

  • The number of applications submitted pursuant to subdivision (a) of section 65913.4, the location and the total number of developments approved pursuant to subdivision (b) of section 65913.4, the total number of building permits issued pursuant to subdivision (b) of section 65913.4, the total number of units including both rental housing and for-sale housing by area median income category constructed using the process provided for in subdivision (b) of section 65913.4.

 

65583.2.

(a) A city’s or county’s inventory of land suitable for residential development pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 65583 shall be used to identify sites that can be developed for housing within the planning period and that are sufficient to provide for the jurisdiction’s share of the regional housing need for all income levels pursuant to Section 65584. As used in this section, “land suitable for residential development” includes all of the sites that meet the standards set forth in subdivisions (c) and (g):

(1) Vacant sites zoned for residential use.

(2) Vacant sites zoned for nonresidential use that allows residential development.

(3) Residentially zoned sites that are capable of being developed at a higher density, including the airspace above sites owned or leased by a city, county, or city and county.

(4) Sites zoned for nonresidential use that can be redeveloped for residential use, and for which the housing element includes a program to rezone the site, as necessary, rezoned for, to permit residential use, including sites owned or leased by a city, county, or city and county.

 

 

65584.

(d) The regional housing needs allocation plan shall be consistent with all of the following objectives:

(2) Promoting infill development and socioeconomic equity, the protection of environmental and agricultural resources, and the encouragement of efficient development patterns.

(4) Allocating a lower proportion of housing need to an income category when a jurisdiction already has a disproportionately high share of households in that income category, as compared to the countywide distribution of households in that category from the most recent decennial United States census.

 

Why were huge density increases approved in the Traffic Circle Area?

I’m very concerned about the approved upzonings to the traffic circle area. I believe that area could be pivotal to future city, county, and state political plans in two different ways.

1) Per state law, if housing for low or moderate income residents is demolished in the coastal area, replacement housing must be provided within three miles of the coastal zone. The traffic circle falls well within that distance. Moderate income is defined as making up to 120% of the area’s median income. That sounds like pretty generous guidelines to me and could cover a lot of people (for instance most retired people because the criteria is income and not net worth) who would need to be provided replacement housing. It also covers the county so housing could be demolished up the coast, for example Wilmington and San Pedro, and high density developments in our traffic circle area could be used for replacement housing. I’ve copied relevant codes here:

————————————————————————

  1. (a) In addition to the requirements of Article 10.6 (commencing with Section 65580), the provisions and requirements of this section shall apply within the coastal zone as defined and delineated in Division 20 (commencing with Section 30000) of the Public Resources Code. Each respective local government shall comply with the requirements of this section in that portion of its jurisdiction which is located within the coastal zone.(b) The conversion or demolition of existing residential dwelling units occupied by persons and families of low or moderate income, as defined in Section 50093 of the Health and Safety Code, shall not be authorized unless provision has been made for the replacement of those dwelling units with units for persons and families of low or moderate income. Replacement dwelling units shall be located within the same city or county as the dwelling units proposed to be converted or demolished. The replacement dwelling units shall be located on the site of the converted or demolished structure or elsewhere within the coastal zone if feasible, or, if location on the site or elsewhere within the coastal zone is not feasible, they shall be located within three miles of the coastal zone.
    =====
    HSC Code 50093
    50093.

    “Persons and families of low or moderate income” means persons and families whose income does not exceed 120 percent of area median income, adjusted for family size by the department in accordance with adjustment factors adopted and amended from time to time by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development pursuant to Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937.

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2)  I’m concerned that the Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) proposed project area will include the traffic circle area. TCC is a new state program which will receive cap and trade auction money so every time there’s an auction, there’s more money for TCC. There are two types of grants – planning and innovation. Innovation grants are the big money grants. I put in a records request on the TCC program and from the records I received it’s evident Long Beach was working on applying for an innovation grant. However, Long Beach has withheld some of the records. Included in the records withheld may be further information on the five square mile zone they were planning, and may plan in the future, for the grant area. Following is the requirement for what the zone must include:

———————————————————————

At least fifty-one (51) percent of the geographic area of the proposed Project Area must overlap with Census Tracts within the top 5 percent of disadvantaged communities, per CalEnviroScreen 3.0.18  The remaining fortynine (49) percent or less of the geographic area of the proposed Project Area must overlap either with a disadvantaged community (top 25 percent CalEnviroScreen 3.0) or a low-income community as defined by AB 1550. Applicants may propose a Project Area boundary that does not align with Census Tract boundaries.
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For the second part of the requirements (the remaining 49 percent of the area) the traffic circle area south of PCH could be included in that because the census tract’s western boundary is Redondo and there is a designated low-income area which has its eastern boundary at Loma Ave., a few blocks east of Redondo. So the traffic circle census tract does overlap with a low-income community and therefore the tract can be included in the TCC zone if the rest of the proposed zone, whatever it might be, meets the rest of the requirements. I’m not sure about the traffic circle area north of PCH because I haven’t located maps exacting enough and the tract boundaries are unusual. I don’t know what was considered for the proposed TCC zone because the city of Long Beach has decided to withhold records. From what I’ve read in the guidelines and I saw a mention of it in the records I did receive, there is no required shape; it just can’t exceed five square miles and it must be contiguous and in one city.

I asked the City Attorney for the reason for why they withheld records and the responding letter is at the end of this blog entry. I don’t think the reason they’ve provided is adequate or legal from what I’ve researched, although I’m not an attorney.

A new LUE is needed to qualify for the TCC innovation grant and the deadlines for applying were all in November and December 2017 and it’s possible Amy Bodek’s unusual determination to get the LUE on the October 3, 2017 city council meeting may have been because of this. By the way, TCC does include funding for building housing developments and there’s a lot of money available in addition to these grants from other sources. It’s important to keep in mind that Long Beach missed the first round of TCC innovation grants because of not passing the LUE but there will be future rounds.

Perhaps the plan is to get money from TCC to fund building high density housing developments for low and moderate income people in order to complete the gentrification of the coastal area of Los Angeles County and central Long Beach and/or wherever the TCC project area may be located. Just a possibility but why is the city withholding informative records?

I’m also thinking that the “powers that be” who are pushing this agenda want to get as many permits issued before the results of the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau which will show that all the state’s population projections used to justify the remaking of our city, county, and state have been way over inflated. And buildings are very long term and close to permanent.

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RE: Public Records Request Reference Number: C000481-012318

In response to your request for public records received on 1/23/2018 11:48:44 PM, tracked as PRA # C000481-012318, the City of Long Beach has produced the appropriate responsive records.

PRA Request # C000481-012318 is now closed.

The City is withholding some documents pursuant to Ca. Govt. Code § 6254(a) Drafts, notes, or memoranda.

———————————————————————————————————————-Response from City Attorney re Records Request-page-001

 

 

 

Can the Upzonings Be Reversed?

The laws of the State of California will not allow any city to reduce density so once it’s passed, there’s no going back.  The “No-net-loss-in zoning density law” which limits downzonings and density reductions (Section 65863) ensures that we will not be able to decrease density in the future.

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=65400&lawCode=GOV

After the LUE is passed, the Development Department will likely include the increased density in the housing goals. Per Senate Bill 35 a housing report must be completed by April 1 (government code 65400). The Development Department will likely include these new increased dense housing numbers from the LUE in the report. It’s important to keep in mind that the Development Department has been the driving force behind these density increases. The salaries of that department’s personnel come out of an account funded by developer fees. Are they more concerned about the citizens of Long Beach or the developers who fund their salaries?

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=65400.&lawCode=GO

The city will be unable to reduce any density levels  because of the threat of, and likelihood of, being sued and losing an extremely expensive lawsuit due to a new law passed by the state effective January 1, 2018. . Once this density increase is included in the Long Beach General Plan, which the LUE is part of, if the city tries to limit or reduce the density of the housing mix, per SB 167 (government code 65589.5) the city will be open to extremely expensive litigation, which the city will lose.

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=65589.5.&lawCode=GOV

The City’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) goals will likely be dramatically increased by Senate Bill 828. The increased building of density to meet these increased goals can’t be opposed or it will be subject to the above mentioned costly, unwinnable lawsuits. In addition, the City of Long Beach has done its own housing assessment which resulted in much higher housing goals and the Development Department has stated they are using these much higher housing numbers as their goals.

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Christopher Koontz, Advanced Planner:  “Based on our estimate we may not be able to hit the 28,000 number that’s listed in your staff report,” Advanced Planner Christopher Koontz told the commission. “But that is the goal, and what is in front of you [the proposed LUE] is an important step forward toward that goal.”-Long Beach Press Telegram, December 12, 2017

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Doing an environmental review will not stop or delay the approval of the LUE and instead will likely help the LUE to be approved. Because of changes to California State Law (based on a previously passed Bill) which will be finalized in March 2018, it is likely that the CEQA (the environmental review) will be based on Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) instead of the criteria used in the past, Level of Service (LOS). The new CEQA  guidelines state that locating density housing within ½ mile of a high quality transit corridor (bus routes or rail lines), or a planned high quality transit corridor (Long Beach Transit and the Southern California Area of Governments (SCAG) have many plans for such), will reduce VMT which will reduce GHG (greenhouse gasses) and will eliminate the necessity of a CEQA review so most likely no environmental review will be completed. If it is completed, the transportation portion will likely not analyze traffic congestion, parking, or other factors which will reduce our quality of life and the study will instead have the preconceived conclusion that VMT will be reduced because more people will be traveling by public transportation instead of owning and operating their own private cars..

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From the the Technical Advisory on Evaluating Transportation Impacts in CEQA November 2017:  “CEQA Guideline Section 15064.3, subdivision (b)(1), states that lead agencies generally should presume that certain projects (including residential, retail, and office projects, as well as projects that are a mix of these uses) proposed within ½ mile of an existing major transit stop or an existing stop along a high quality transit corridor will have a less-than-significant impact on VMT.” page 11

“An infill [infill means development in an already developed area] development may add riders to transit systems and the additional boarding and alighting may slow transit vehicles, but it also adds destinations, improving proximity and accessibility.  Such development also improves regional vehicle flow by adding less vehicle travel onto the regional network.” pages 15 and 16

http://opr.ca.gov/docs/20171127_Transportation_Analysis_TA_Nov_2017.pd

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There’s a lot of money available to build these dense housing units. There are multiple funding sources but the most alarming is the “cap and trade” auction money that has recently been redirected and dedicated to building these dense housing developments. And “cap and trade” auctions are conducted on a regularly scheduled basis so there will be a continuous stream of funds.

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB1550

I believe this is being dictated and led by Sacramento politicians. The new laws which have been passed in the last few years, including 15 new housing bills passed in 2017, along with SB 827, SB 828 and who knows how many other housing bills in the process for this year, will take local control away from the cities.

Who are these housing units being built for? The American reproduction rate is not even at a replacement level.

I’m also thinking that the “powers that be” who are pushing this agenda want to get as many permits issued before the results of the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau are posted which will show that the population projections used to justify the remaking of our city, county, and state have been way over inflated. This push for more housing is based upon State Population Projections which are much higher than U.S. Census Bureau population projections. What I believe to be the most accurate population indicator, LBUSD enrollment (since school funding is based on school attendance) shows a reduction in the number of students at all grade levels.

Buildings are very close to permanent and forever. There are many laws being passed in Sacramento that I disagree with but most can be reversed if and when the voters express their displeasure and vote in new politicians. But for high density infill developments, the politicians have the process in place and these changes will be rapid fire and permanent. Once the permits are issued they can’t be revoked, and once the buildings are built, well, they’re pretty close to permanent and then this high density environment can’t be reversed.

We need to prepare for Round Two of this fight.

 

 

This is Jaw Dropping

Most of what I heard on the webinar from this link I basically already knew but this made my jaw drop:

  CHRIS GANNON:  “We’re encouraging maps to be made by jurisdictions that essentially paint the areas that are below the significant thresholds, say green [which must be from the CalEnviroScreen 3.0 map]             and make these go zones for development. These areas we presume are less than significant for transportation…”

At 38:30 on the this link:  https://www.sacog.org/post/updates-ceqa-guidelines-sb-743

A middle class neighborhood can never be other than green because the criteria is Pollution Burdens TIMES Population Characteristics. It’s set up so that Population Characteristics will always be zero in a middle class neighborhood (or extremely low) and since it’s multiplied and not added, a middle class neighborhood will never score out of the green zone.

Sacramento wants to push these high density developments in middle class neighborhoods. Local control is virtually gone with SB 35, other housing bills already passed, and more proposed.

In the past, a CEQA (environmental) review was required for any new Land Use Plan or development. Sacramento is putting in new guidelines to push high density forward. They have also allocated funds from cap and trade to pay for these developments. Many, many other policies too.

New CEQA (environmental) guidelines were put out a couple of months ago. Loss of Service (LOS) will no longer be used as the criteria for the transportation study and will be replaced by Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). Cities may start using the new guidelines immediately upon the state’s adoption which will be very soon, perhaps March or April of 2018; total statewide compliance must be by 1/1/2020. The transportation impact is deemed to be less than significant if the development is located near transit, or near planned transit, as it is presumed to lower VMT. If it’s within 1/2 mile of transit the guidelines recommend not to even do a transportation study. There are many planned high quality transit corridors in the SCAG Report (there’s also a story on LBReport  about LB Transit adding bus service http://www.lbreport.com/news/jan18/busplan.htm) and according to the Technical Advisory, planned transit not even in place yet also means CEQA can be streamlined, meaning not done. It is pre-determined that housing developments located close to transit will reduce VMT.

We are being attacked from every direction!

Janet West

http://www.opr.ca.gov/ceqa/updates/guidelines/

CEQA Review Changes to Accommodate High Density Developments

Senate Bill 743 (Steinberg, 2013) required changes to the transportation impacts evaluated by CEQA reviews. Governor Brown’s administration is now re-writing these guidelines. I believe they waited until now in order that the new housing bills would be in place first. Previous CEQA evaluations looked at “loss of service” (LOS) issues such as traffic congestion at intersections. The new CEQA guidelines will evaluate “vehicle miles traveled” (VMT) instead of LOS.

All high density developments will pass the VMT criteria as long as they are along a current or planned “high quality transit corridor.”  SCAG has many of these corridors “planned.” Their belief is that building high density mixed use infill developments along high quality transit corridors will reduce VMT and help to reach carbon reduction goals.

In addition, in the plan I quoted and linked below, it says “Because location within the region is the most important determinant of VMT, in some cases, streamlining CEQA review of projects in travel efficient locations may be the most effective means of reducing VMT.” I’m assuming streamlining means no CEQA review is necessary.

I don’t believe these guidelines are finalized yet but they’re well on their way.

From the Report (link at end):

TECHNICAL ADVISORY ON EVALUATING TRANSPORTATION IMPACTS IN CEQA November 2017

This technical advisory is one in a series of advisories provided by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) as a service to professional planners, land use officials, and CEQA practitioners.  OPR issues technical guidance on issues that broadly affect the practice of land use planning and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Pub. Resources Code, § 21000 et seq.).  The purpose of this document is to provide advice and recommendations, which agencies and other entities may use at their discretion.  This document should not be construed as legal advice.
Senate Bill 743 (Steinberg, 2013) required changes to the guidelines implementing CEQA (CEQA Guidelines) (Cal. Code Regs., Title 14, Div. 6, Ch. 3, § 15000 et seq.) regarding the analysis of transportation impacts.  OPR has proposed changes to the CEQA Guidelines that identify vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as the most appropriate metric to evaluate a project’s transportation impacts. The proposed changes also provide that the analysis of certain transportation projects must address the potential for induced travel.  Once the California Natural Resources Agency adopts these changes to the CEQA Guidelines, automobile delay, as measured by “level of service” and other similar metrics, generally will no longer constitute a significant environmental effect under CEQA.    Page 1

Any project that includes in its geographic bounds a portion of an existing or planned Transit Priority Area (i.e., the project is within a ½ mile of an existing or planned [SCAG has these planned] major transit stop or an existing stop along a high quality transit corridor) may employ VMT as its primary metric of transportation impact for the entire project.  (See Pub. Resources Code, § 21099, subds. (a)(7), (b)(1).)
…Therefore, lead agencies may perform a multimodal impact analysis that incorporates the technical approaches and mitigation strategies that are best suited to the unique land use/transportation circumstances and specific facility types they are evaluating.   pages 4 and 5

In other words, vehicle efficiency and better fuels are necessary, but insufficient, to address the greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation system.  Land use patterns and transportation options must also change to support reductions in vehicle travel/VMT.

· New land use projects alone will not sufficiently reduce per-capita VMT to achieve those targets, nor are they expected to be the sole source of VMT reduction.

· Interactions between land use projects, and also between land use and transportation projects, existing and future, together affect VMT.

  • Because location within the region is the most important determinant of VMT, in some cases, streamlining CEQA review of projects in travel efficient locations may be the most effective means of reducing VMT.

First, as described above, Section 21099 states that the criteria for determining significance must “promote the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”  page 7 and 8

Furthermore, At the State level, a number of important policies are being developed.  Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 743 (Steinberg, 2013), which called for an update to the metric of transportation impact in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). That update to the CEQA Guidelines is currently underway.  Employing VMT as the metric of transportation impact statewide will help ensure GHG reductions planned under SB 375 will be achieved through on-the-ground development, and will also play an important role in creating the additional GHG reductions needed beyond SB 375 across the State.” (Id. at p. 112.)

…The CEQA Guidelines are being updated to focus the analysis of transportation impacts on VMT.  page 9

Residential and office projects that locate in areas with low VMT, and that incorporate similar features (i.e., density, mix of uses, transit accessibility), will tend to exhibit similarly low VMT. page 10

Presumption of Less Than Significant Impact Near Transit Stations

Proposed CEQA Guideline Section 15064.3, subdivision (b)(1), states that lead agencies generally should presume that certain projects (including residential, retail, and office projects, as well as projects that are a mix of these uses) proposed within ½ mile of an existing major transit stop7 or an existing stop along a high quality transit corridor8 will have a less-than-significant impact on VMT.

8 Pub. Resources Code, § 21155 (“For purposes of this section, a high-quality transit corridor means a corridor with fixed route bus service with service intervals no longer than 15 minutes during peak commute hours.”).   page 11

  1. Recommendations Regarding Land Use PlansAs with projects, agencies should analyze VMT outcomes of land use plans over the full area over which the plan may substantively affect travel patterns, including beyond the boundary of the plan or jurisdiction’s geography.  Analysis of specific plans may employ the same thresholds described above for projects.  A general plan, area plan, or community plan may have a significant impact on transportation if it is not consistent with the relevant RTP-SCS.   page 15

When evaluating impacts to multimodal transportation networks, lead agencies generally should not treat the addition of new transit users as an adverse impact.  An infill development may add riders to transit systems and the additional boarding and alighting may slow transit vehicles, but it also adds destinations, improving proximity and accessibility.  Such development also improves regional vehicle flow by adding less vehicle travel onto the regional network.  page 15 and 16

                                    Transit and Active Transportation Projects

Transit and active transportation projects generally reduce VMT and therefore are presumed to cause a less-than-significant impact on transportation.  This presumption may apply to all passenger rail projects, bus and bus rapid transit projects, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects.  Streamlining transit and active transportation projects aligns with each of the three statutory goals contained in SB 743 by reducing GHG emissions, increasing multimodal transportation networks, and facilitating mixed use development.  page 19

Potential measures to reduce vehicle miles traveled include, but are not limited to:

· Improve or increase access to transit. · Increase access to common goods and services, such as groceries, schools, and daycare. · Incorporate affordable housing into the project. · Incorporate neighborhood electric vehicle network. · Orient the project toward transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities. · Improve pedestrian or bicycle networks, or transit service. · Provide traffic calming. · Provide bicycle parking. · Limit or eliminate parking supply. · Unbundle parking costs. · Provide parking or roadway pricing or cash-out programs. · Implement or provide access to a commute reduction program. · Provide car-sharing, bike sharing, and ride-sharing programs. · Provide transit passes. · Shifting single occupancy vehicle trips to carpooling or vanpooling, for example providing ridematching services. · Providing telework options. · Providing incentives or subsidies that increase the use of modes other than single-occupancy vehicle. · Providing on-site amenities at places of work, such as priority parking for carpools and vanpools, secure bike parking, and showers and locker rooms. · Providing employee transportation coordinators at employment sites. · Providing a guaranteed ride home service to users of non-auto modes.   page 22 and 23

http://opr.ca.gov/docs/20171127_Transportation_Analysis_TA_Nov_2017.pdf

 

Letter to the Mayor and Council Members of Long Beach

January 20, 2018

Mayor Garcia
Council Member Supernaw
Council Member Gonzalez
Council Member Pearce
Council Member Price
Council Member Mungo
Council Member Andrews
Council Member Uranga
Council Member Austin
Council Member Richardson

Dear Mayor and Council Members,

If the proposed Land Use Element Plan (LUE) is passed by the Long Beach City Council, funds from the State’s Cap and Trade auctions will be available to fund the building of high density housing developments on the east side and north side of the city and may be used to move low and moderate income populations, many of whom are minorities, away from the more valuable downtown/coastal area of the city. This could result in the gentrification of our city.

NOTE: I use the term high density deliberately because even though the Planning Development Department says “technically” most of what they’re proposing is not high density, it is high density to most people.

The downtown/coastal area of Long Beach may become even more valuable if the west side of the breakwater is removed to return waves and surfing to the west side of the Long Beach coastline.

There are three major strategies, with many additional supportive strategies, which may enable this to happen.

The first major strategy is to create a Transformative Climate Community Program zone (TCC). These zones were enabled by Assembly Bill 2722 which was passed in 2016. The requirements of these zones include that they shouldn’t exceed a five square mile size, need to be contiguous and located in one city, and must contain specified percentages of different levels of disadvantaged/low income communities as determined by CalEnviroScreen 3.0.

See the CalEnviroScreen 3.0 maps at https://oehha.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=4560cfbce7c745c299b2d0cbb07044f5

TCC is based on the environmental justice concept which surmises that lower income people are less likely to be able to handle the adverse effects of pollution and therefore must be protected by the government and live in areas with less pollution. Since the areas of Long Beach which have multiple sources of pollution (i.e. the Harbor, the 710 freeway, and oil refineries) are also the more valuable areas of the city and have a large population of low and moderate income people, in our city, environmental justice could mean these populations should be moved out of the more valuable areas of the city in order to protect the people from pollutants which they are unable to do for themselves. The common term used for this type of relocation of populations is gentrification.

Long Beach has been identified as one of the cities with an area which meets the requirements for funding from TCC (Page B-1) on the following link:

Read about TCC at:  http://sgc.ca.gov/resource%20files/10242017-TCC_FINAL_GUIDELINES_10_23_17.pdf

SB 732 (passed in 2008) created the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC), which administers TCC along with other expenditures of cap and trade funds, to increase the availability of affordable housing, among other things, and encourage sustainable land use.

Many people will be enticed to move from the downtown/coastal areas because of brand new apartments with lower rents possible because the developers have received taxpayer funds and cap and trade funds (cap and trade is ultimately paid by taxpayers aka consumers) to help finance the building of these complexes. I believe the traffic circle area will be included in this TCC zone but can’t confirm this. Long Beach has decided to withhold records from me which may include that information. The traffic circle area is important because per state law, in order to demolish or convert housing occupied by low and moderate income people living in the coastal zone, replacement housing must be provided within three miles of the coastal zone.

The traffic circle area, which has massive increases in housing density in the proposed LUE, falls easily within that distance. “Stack and pack” housing in the traffic circle area may be used for fulfilling a legal condition required in order to relocate low and moderate income people from the coastal area. These developments may also be used to relocate this community from other parts of Los Angeles County. The government code specifies that replacement housing must be located in the county and doesn’t specify it needs to be within the same city. This type of relocation is commonly called “gentrification.” In the downtown and central areas of Long Beach, real estate investors have been buying rental properties occupied by minority and low income families and raising rents to force some families to move. These investors could be waiting for this money making opportunity.

NO TCC grant money may be used to provide parking.

When Amy Bodek, AICP, Director, Long Beach Development Services, emphatically stated at the August 2017 Planning Commission meeting that the proposed LUE would be on the Agenda of the City Council meeting on October 13, 2017 regardless of whether it was approved by the Planning Commission, that suggested there was some type of unnamed deadline. That deadline may have been the TCC deadlines which were October 18, 2017, November 30, 2017, and December 6, 2017. The LUE needed to be passed in order for Long Beach to qualify for the TCC innovation grants.

Mayor Garcia has been aware of TCC since at least September 8, 2016 when he wrote a letter addressed to Governor Brown in support of AB 2722 (Burke) and TCC. In the letter, Mayor Garcia wrote: “Long Beach looks forward to partnering with the State and our local community on initiatives and benefits afforded through AB 2722.”

Link to letter:  http://www.longbeach.gov/globalassets/city-manager/media-library/documents/government-affairs/position-letters—state/2015—2016/support-for-ab_2722-9.7.16_2.0/

Long Beach has decided to withhold records in regard to TCC. I received a reply from the Long Beach City Attorney’s office on June 20, 2018, with this stated reason for withholding records: “The emails in question are employee emails that contain dialogue, impressions, and opinions that illustrate the deliberative process that led to how and why certain decisions were made regarding the TCC Program. Withholding these emails from disclosure outweighs the public’s interest in disclosure because disclosing these emails would have a chilling effect on employee email communications. Employees would refrain from having candid discussions via email regarding important topics which would make internal communications more inefficientand impact future negotiations regarding the TCC Program and other grant opportunities.”

That same “deliberative process” will likely be used for round two and future rounds of the TCC Innovative Grant Applications. I believe the public has the right to these records in sufficient time to understand and disseminate the records prior to the City Council voting on the proposed Land Use Element Plan (LUE) on March 6, 2018 as this LUE will enable future TCC grant approvals. TCC Innovation Grants are for large amounts of money and are likely to change the city in crucial and permanent ways allowing gentrification. The grant award Long Beach may have been anticipating applying for was $35 million.

This reply from the City Attorney’s office on the withheld records had a “chilling” effect on me, to borrow that phrase from the letter. A copy of the letter is provided for your perusal.

The second major strategy created the funding mechanism. Assembly Bill 1550 (passed in 2016) increased the percent of Cap and Trade funds used for projects located in disadvantaged communities from 10 to 25 percent and added another 10 percent to benefit low income households or communities. These funds can be used to build housing developments. There are also many additional funding sources available to pay for building these housing developments.

Look at the interactive map for AB 1550:  https://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/auctionproceeds/communityinvestments.htm

The third major strategy is the passage of multiple housing bills by Sacramento politicians and the housing bills which are in the pipeline. SB 35, which was passed last year, allows multi-family housing developments, under standard conditions, to be built without local approval (no public hearings and most likely no environmental reviews) and with zero parking if located within ½ mile of public transit (which is virtually all of Long Beach). Not having to provide parking makes these developments much cheaper to build and obviously will create a nightmare for the surrounding neighborhoods.

There are many additional housing bills which have various implications. There were 14 additional housing bills passed last year, many housing bills passed in years prior to 2017, and already three more housing bills put on the docket the first week of this year.

One of the 2018 bills, SB 827 proposes to eliminate single family house zoning in areas ¼ mile from a major public transit route (Southern California Association of Governments [SCAG] planning anticipates that this category will be greatly increased) and ½ mile of a rail line (i.e. the Blue Line) and imposing minimum height requirements in those zones.

Another bill on the docket for this year, SB 828, proposes that the responsibility for determining and policing RHNA goals will be taken away from the Council of Governments (COG) and given to a California State Department. The COG members are not directly elected by the citizens but at least they are locally elected mayors and council members who presumably have an interest in local issues. And perhaps this is how the Long Beach RHNA numbers will be increased from 7,048 (our official SCAG number) to 28,000 which Christopher Koontz has stated is already the goal of the Long Beach Development Department.

Christopher Koontz, Advanced Planner:  “Based on our estimate we may not be able to hit the 28,000 number that’s listed in your staff report,” Advanced Planner Christopher Koontz told the commission. “But that is the goal, and what is in front of you [the proposed LUE] is an important step forward toward that goal.”-Long Beach Press Telegram, December 12, 2017.

I’m wondering if the “powers that be” who are pushing this agenda want to get as many permits issued before the results of the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau show that all the population projections used to justify the remaking of our city, county, and state have been way over inflated. And buildings are very long term and close to permanent.

Baked into the already passed housing legislation are laws which will make it virtually impossible to return to our current zoning if the new LUE is passed. Another law makes it virtually impossible for a city to oppose a proposed development because there will be a costly lawsuit that the city will lose.

When this LUE issue first came up, I said it was ideology, money, or power, or any combination of the three. I now believe it’s money, fueled by ideology, with the by-product of power.

Please vote carefully. Your legacy is at stake as well as the future of our city. Don’t be the people whose vote destroys our beautiful city, enables gentrification, and results in the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer.

Sincerely,

 

Janet West
Jayjay76511@gmail.com
http://www.helpsave.blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Puzzle Piece

What I’m discovering backs up my belief that this City’s LUE action is taken hand in hand with Sacramento and the recently passed Housing Bills.

One of the pieces of the puzzle I’ve found is that one of the housing bills recently passed provides financing from Cap and Trade funds to build low income housing developments in specified areas. Low and behold, some of the proposed re-zoning coincides with those same specified areas. Some of these are obvious choices but others are more brazen selections.

Assembly Bill 1550 (Gomez, Chapter 369, Statutes of 2016) increased the percent of Cap and Trade funds used for projects located in disadvantaged communities from 10 to 25 percent and added another 10 percent to benefit low income households or communities. The bill directs:

  • A minimum of 25 percent of the proceeds be invested in projects that are located within and benefiting individuals living in disadvantaged communities;
  • An additional minimum of 5 percent be invested in projects that are located within and benefiting individuals living in low-income communities or benefiting low-income households statewide; and
  • An additional minimum of 5 percent that are located within and benefiting individuals living in low-income communities, or benefiting low-income households, that are within a ½ mile of a disadvantaged community.

Look at the map on the following link. Put a Long Beach zip code in the search and then you can move the map around to see the whole city. Keep in mind, some areas are not showing up as one of the categories on the map because they’re not yet zoned for residential or mixed use. Both the areas around the traffic circle and the Towne Center (both remain on the proposed LUE to be rezoned) fall into the second and third funding category from the above list. And there are other areas of the city with similar circumstances.

https://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/auctionproceeds/communityinvestments.htm

Let’s ask Council Member Stacy Mungo AGAIN how safe the Towne Center is from being built into density housing developments! They want to rezone it for mixed use six story which with the Density Bonus Law can end up being nine stories. It’s within the ½ mile of a disadvantaged community and it’s within a low income area so funding is available from cap and trade money to build low income housing developments. There’s a reason why they haven’t changed that proposed zoning back to commercial. And there’s a reason why AB 2208 was passed to put it on the list of “land suitable for residential development” which results in putting it on the list of inventory to use to meet Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) goals. Done deal. They have something in mind for that property. Perhaps that empty field and maybe move the gas station out which takes up a lot of area.

And we can’t use the term high density (oh no!) because even though to us, the stakeholders, that’s how we would label it, the Planning and Development Department tells us what they are proposing “technically” is not high density but instead medium density. We don’t want to be labeled misinformed NIMBY’s, do we?!

And now I know why Christopher Koontz (AICP, Advance Planning Officer) threw a panicked look at Amy Bodek (AICP, Director) during the December 11th Planning Commission meeting when the Commissioner requested that the properties around the inner rim of the traffic circle be kept commercial zoning. At the time, I thought it was because of the reduction in available space for increased density (I’m not going to be called a misinformed NIMBY [STAMP FOOT]) housing developments, which was part of it, but now I realize it was because that’s a lot of the area where the Cap and Trade funds can be used.

More to come!