Long considered an environmental steward and an urban booster, outgoing California governor Jerry Brown has signed a series of pro-density and housing-friendly bills into law as the final legislative session of his last term as governor draws to a close. Among the issues supported by the spate of bills are: efforts to build more densely around transit stations in the San Francisco Bay Area; a desire to enshrine Obama-era federal fair housing guidelines into California law; and plans to force wealthy municipalities to build their fair share of affordable housing. A list of some of the significant legislative gains signed into law by Governor Brown follows: AB 2923 Assembly Bill 2923 settles a long-running battle to give the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) authority a greater degree of control over the land that it owns surrounding its transit stops across the Bay Area region. The land in question is currently subjected to many of the strict density limits imposed by surrounding housing-adverse communities. The enaction of the bill will allow for up to 20,000 new housing units—35 percent of which would be affordable housing—to be built on the roughly 250 acres the authority owns by 2040. In a statement, BART general manager Grace Crunican celebrated the victory by sounding a conciliatory tone. She said, “Although AB2923 directs BART to adopt new transit-oriented development (TOD) zoning standards for each BART station, I want to assure community leaders and residents that BART is committed to continuing our collaborative approach. We have found that working closely with neighborhoods and local elected officials to consider community needs is not only respectful, it's the most efficient way to get the job done.” The measure gives local municipalities two years to update their zoning plans to accommodate the new housing or risk losing all control over BART-associated projects currently under their jurisdiction. AB 686 Assembly Bill 686 would require any housing- and community development–focused public agency to administer its programs and activities in a manner that supports the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) efforts of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. The bill represents an effort to enshrine those protections—as well as Obama-era fair housing programs—into California law amid a federal restructuring of fair housing priorities under the current administration. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has referred to AFFH unironically as a “social-engineering scheme” despite the fact that AFFH efforts serve to counter the long-standing legacy of federally-enacted and enforced racial segregation and redlining in American neighborhoods. Secretary Carson is currently working to “reinterpret” AFFH goals, which many racial equity activists have interpreted as an effort to dismantle the guidelines entirely. AB 1771 Assembly Bill 1771 aims to reform California’s Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) law in order to make regional housing planning more data-driven and transparent by ensuring that high-income, job-rich cities plan and zone for affordable housing. The bill represents an effort to force wealthy cities like Beverly Hills and those surrounding San Fransico to plan for additional affordable housing so that existing low-income communities are not solely saddled with the burden of producing more housing. There is an emerging trend showing that these low-income communities have seen concentrated growth in both new market rate and affordable housing, a phenomenon that has fueled displacement and gentrification. AB 1771 aims for an initial and partial fix by beginning to hold wealthy areas responsible for producing their fair share of affordable housing. SB828 Last but not least, State Bill 828 would reform the methodology California uses when setting local housing goals for the RHNA mentioned above. Moving forward, the state will use several data-based metrics, including the percentage of renter households that are overcrowded and current vacancy rates, to calculate each municipality’s new RHNA goals. The newly-enacted laws follow several years’ worth of legislative gains for housing advocates in the state. However, the efforts have yet to meaningfully reduce the number of rent-burdened households in the state and have had an even smaller impact on racial segregation or access to homeownership for low-income households. These issues are expected to take center stage for California’s next governor when they take office in 2019 following the November election.
Posts tagged with "Jerry Brown":
California breaks ground on High Speed Rail system that will one day connect Sacramento with San Diego
It's not often that the eyes of the country are fixed on Fresno. But this week, after years of fights and dozens of lawsuits, California's $68 billion High Speed Rail system is finally breaking ground there. The system, funded largely by state and federal money (much of that is still pending), is expected to eventually extend 800 miles from Sacramento to San Diego and include 24 stations. A route from San Francisco to Los Angeles is expected by 2029. The first stretch of the electric bullet train initiative, between Fresno and Bakersfield, will be built by Dragados/Flatiron/Shimmick. Construction is beginning in the Central Valley, say officials from the California High Speed Rail Authority, to lower costs, speed construction, and get access to more federal funds. They noted that the plan will add a much-needed economic boost to the emerging area's long-struggling cities, like Fresno, Bakersfield, and Merced. The second phase of construction will connect the Central Valley to the San Fernando Valley, the third will connect the Central Valley to San Jose, the fourth will connect the San Fernando Valley with Los Angeles and Anaheim, and the fifth will complete the connection from Sacramento to San Diego. New stations are moving ahead, some faster than others. Anaheim just opened HOK and Buro Happold's ARTIC Station, Los Angeles is beginning radical changes to Union Station designed by Grimshaw and Gruen, and San Francisco is building perhaps the most ambitious of them all, Cesar Pelli's Transbay Center. Even Fresno is getting in on the act, hiring AECOM to study a station there. Besides needing billions more dollars, the High Speed Rail Authority still has to condemn thousands of acres of land before this all becomes reality.
AB 630, a bill that ensures that no one can use an architect's "instruments of service" (i.e. plans, drawings, schematics) without his or her written permission, recently passed the California legislature without a single no vote. The bill passed the Assembly 78-0 and the State Senate 37-0. But now architects are getting nervous, since governor Jerry Brown has not decided whether he will sign it. In recent years, architecture advocates point out, architects' rights to their intellectual property have been more egregiously abused, leading to skyrocketing legal fees. For instance, developers and homeowners have been selling their plans to third party buyers; some have been converting projects into condominiums without permission from the architect; and others have terminated contracts with architects after the receipt of construction permits to save money. "Consumers often mistake intellectual property as 'personal' property, because they have paid a fee for services," explained Ric Abramson, AIA/LA Board Secretary. "This bill is a game changer because it addresses and clarifies for the public at large the 'use' of the work and reaffirms the need for there to be a written document in place." You can ask the Governor to sign the bill here. Better hurry.
We learn from our friends at Curbed LA that LA's CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) is scrambling to put away funds for about a billion dollars in projects before being potentially done away with later this year. You see, earlier this month California Governor Jerry Brown proposed— among $12.5 billion in budget cuts— “phasing out” funding for all of the state’s redevelopment agencies, a move that, according to Brown, “will return billions in property tax revenues to schools, cities and counties and help pay for public safety, education and other services.” According to Curbed, the CRA just "quickly put together a draft agreement with the city that socks away $938 million for future projects." That includes money for The Broad's new parking garage, for a new office tower on Vine Street in Hollywood. No matter what you think of redevelopment agencies, the move will hurt architects and builders. So stay tuned next week for AN's comprehensive article on just how much it will hurt. Sounds fun, right?