Tag: 2021-09-nn-roundup

City of Napa housing division revamps rental housing rehabilitation loan program

By Edward Booth, Napa Valley Register, August 30, 2021

“[L]oan maximums have been increased by tens of thousands of dollars, in most cases, per unit. (The maximum loan allowed for a single-family rental unit, for example, is now $75,000, up from $45,000.)

“The city’s housing rehabilitation program provides no-interest grants and loans for home repairs. It serves low-income residents and families at or below 80 percent of the area median income and the landlords that rent to them. (Napa’s area median income is currently $109,200, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.)

“Landlords who borrow from the program are required to enter into an agreement with the city that ensures the rehabilitated units remain affordable and are leased to low-income households for either 10 or 20 years […]

“The updated guidelines note … that going with the 10-year option may trigger the requirement to pay prevailing wages under state law, which can increase project costs … 

“Along the same lines of improving affordable housing, the housing division is also now offering Tenant Accessibility ADA Grants of up to $5,000 to make rental units accessible for a person with disabilities.

“Both programs are funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.”

Read the full article here. (~3 min.)

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Bay Area cities and counties falling dramatically short of affordable housing goals

“[F]ive years of housing permit data for the current planning cycle — which ends in 2023 — shows that no city or county was even close to meeting its [Regional Housing Needs Allocation set by the Association of Bay Area Governments].

“During [the first five years of the current planning cycle], Dublin, known for being one of the fastest growing places in the state, issued just 3.27 percent of its permit goal for very-low-income housing, 8.74 percent of its goal for low-income, and 9.18 percent of its moderate-income goal.

“Over those same five years, the Bay Area as a region fared only slightly better, with cities and counties combining to issue just 15 percent of building permits needed to meet the Bay Area’s very-low-income housing goals and 25 percent of its low-income goals, according to ABAG data.

“[M]any local leaders say it’s a daunting task to build affordable housing with the limited availability of open land and without some kind of regular funding source even as the proposed affordable housing goals for the next planning cycle are substantially larger than what they’ve been in the past.

“To help bridge the funding gap, some cities have looked to things like increasing the real estate transfer tax, creating a business tax for rental housing, requiring developers to build affordable housing as a condition of project approvals, and charging developer fees that go into an affordable housing trust fund[.]

“While the COVID-19 pandemic delayed plans to put the first regional housing bond on the ballot in all nine Bay Area Counties, the [state’s first regional affordable housing financing authority] hopes to do so in the near future, according to its website.”

Read the full article here. (~4 min.)

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How arenas like the Oakland Coliseum became emblematic of California’s housing crisis

By Erika Paz, Calmatters, August 24, 2021

“Anaheim and San Diego have been cited by California’s Department of Housing and Community Development for failing to comply with an affordable housing law as part of their multimillion-dollar stadium and arena plans. A third investigation into the Oakland Coliseum redevelopment project, which was triggered by a lawsuit, could result in a $25.5 million penalty against the taxpayers of Alameda County.

“Housing advocates point to sports arenas as proof that market forces won’t deliver enough housing where at least 1.8 million units are needed by 2025. They contend the public is being shortchanged on affordable units in these deals. For parcels that have an opportunity to create housing, the projects should include at least 25 percent affordable housing.

These investigations are based on AB 1468 (Ting), amending the Surplus Land Act to allow “the Department of Housing and Community Development to track all public land deals and levy fines of as much as 30 percent of the real estate deal.

“Housing advocates say it’s still too early to declare the law a success, but having these three high-profile cases in the first year should encourage local agencies to carefully consider how they move forward on public land.

“Alameda County is waiting for the state to make a determination on its $85 million Oakland Coliseum sale to the A’s. The state housing agency declined to comment, saying it’s in the early stages of its investigation. But even before the sale was approved by the county board, Alameda had been challenged for not following state law.

“The transaction has left Oakland in a tricky spot as it tries to salvage a redevelopment plan for the stadium that will satisfy the baseball team to stay.”

Read the full article here. (~7 min.)

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Judge rules that UC Berkeley must study the impacts of growth before raising enrollment

By Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside, August 24, 2021

“The order to freeze enrollment comes a little more than a month after Judge Brad Seligman ruled that UC Berkeley abused its discretion when it failed to study the impacts of increasing its enrollment by 33.7 percent, or 11,285 students, from 2005 to 2020. That was just one of the deficiencies in the supplemental environmental impact report for what is called the Upper Hearst Project, the judge ruled.

“Seligman also ordered the UC Board of Regents to void its 2018 approval of the Upper Hearst project and to decertify the supplemental environmental impact report. Cal must redo the SEIR to address certain issues, including how student enrollment increases have affected noise, housing, and displacement in Berkeley, the judge ruled.

“The ruling is not only a victory for neighbors upset with UC Berkeley’s growth and its mitigation measures, but for other communities in California struggling to deal with UC campus impacts, said Phil Bokovoy, the president of Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, which filed the original lawsuit.

Berkeley sued in 2019 but dropped the suit when the City Council voted on July 13 to enter into an $83 million agreement with UC Berkeley. Cal will pay Berkeley $4.1 million a year over the next 16 years for its use of city services in exchange for Berkeley dropping its opposition to the new 2021 long-range development plan and environmental impact report.

“That left Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods to pursue its case against UC Berkeley.”

Read the full article here. (~4 min.)

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Oakland residents fighting a mysterious startup taking over their quiet street

By Georgia Freedman, SFGate, August 23, 2021

“After just a couple minutes, any reasonable person could see that [the Golden Gate neighborhood, located on Emeryville and Berkeley’s border,] is not exactly an ideal spot for [a new business called CloudKitchens] that plans to house more than 30 pocket-sized ‘ghost kitchens,’ all of them depending on attracting a daily stream of hundreds of delivery drivers as the crux of their business model.

“The edge of this neighborhood — the area along Adeline and Lowell — is a mix of residential and commercial properties governed by HBX (housing business mix) zoning codes, which allow ‘compatible’ business activities, with the promise that the mix ‘respects environmental quality and historic patterns of development.’

“[The neighborhood’s residents, including this article’s author, have argued to local officials] that CloudKitchens was improperly designated as ‘light industry,’ specifically a commissary kitchen, when it is actually a ‘limited-service restaurant and cafe’ (or, rather, a number of limited-service restaurants all sandwiched into one location) … When CloudKitchens filed for their permit, they only listed 20 employees — the number of people employed by the business to help run the site — and left out the fact that they would be subleasing to businesses that will, collectively, have upward of 100 workers.

“In the meantime, the ramifications of this classification — or misclassification, depending on your stance — will be just as costly to the city as to the neighbors dealing with the disruptions the business causes. […]

“[At the beginning of August, Oakland’s city attorney] assigned a senior deputy to investigate and help the planning department determine whether there should be a public hearing about possibly revoking the business’s permit — a rarely used process, but one that could potentially be merited in this case.

“Even if CloudKitchens’ permit is revoked (which is somewhat unlikely), they probably won’t have to move out of the building; they could simply apply for another permit, under a different classification … Whatever happens, one thing is clear: Everyone is in for a long fight, and this quiet community will probably never be the same.”

Access the full long-read article here. (~15 min.)

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Tension over new development rises amid water scarcity in Healdsburg

By Mary Callahan, The Press Democrat, August 23, 2021

“The way [former Healdsburg councilwoman and mayor] Brigette Mansell sees it, the drastic water conservation measures already required of those who live in Healdsburg make it obvious the city needs to stop and think about how much more it can grow.

“But with more than 500 planned and prospective units in the pipeline — more than half of which would be sold at market rate — they want the city to suspend water hookups until officials have a more realistic grasp on balancing water supply and demand.

“Mansell said large projects currently in the works, like the Mill District and North Village — both of which are combined housing and hotel developments — were authorized in part because of an erroneously rosy supply outlook contained in the city’s 2015 Urban Water Management Plan, which is required to be updated every five years by state law.

“ ‘We’re only asking what the state is asking for our town, which is a viable plan that shows that we can in fact supply the businesses and residents of Healdsburg,’ [Mansell said].

“Lake Mendocino is at the second-lowest level it has ever been and shrinking week-by-week. And the city, despite having some of the oldest, most senior water rights in the Russian River watershed, has recently been ordered to stop drawing any more water than is necessary to meet its residents’ basic health and safety needs.

“[Healdsburg Utilities Director Terry Crowley] said the updated Urban Water Management Plan now being drafted will account for what’s now understood about life under climate change and the more extreme conditions it creates, as well as the kinds of conservation efforts and mitigations the city will have to face going forward.”

Read the full article here. (~5 min.)

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