Tag: 2022-03-nn-roundup

Alameda’s waterfront sets high standard for future Bay Area development

By John King, San Francisco Chronicle, February 2, 2022

“[D]evelopers for 20 years have sought to remake the western two-thirds of the former Alameda Naval Air Station. After numerous false starts, the first pocket of new construction is wrapping up — and it shows how our bay shoreline can accommodate change while serving people who don’t necessarily live or work there.

“The new elements include a ferry terminal that [takes] you directly to San Francisco, and a 3-acre waterfront plaza that opened quietly this week. The first four residential blocks include 128 subsidized apartments for, among others, low-income families and formerly homeless veterans.

“[T]he final block of West Atlantic Avenue [a boulevard that extends across the north half of Alameda island] is level with the plaza — the idea being that it can double as a setting for food trucks or large gatherings, though neither is in huge demand right now. Shared streets of this nature have been talked about in San Francisco for years, but none have been built at such an inviting scale.

“ ‘What we tried to do is focus on the experience of how the public connects to all this,’ said Andrew Thomas, [AICP,] Alameda’s planning director. “Atlantic Avenue is the front door. It has to be the best of the best.’

“The original deal with the Navy only allows 1,800 new [housing] units in all of Alameda Point. But with the state pushing cities to make room for large amounts of additional housing, it’s an obvious place to increase density.

“While the city had the final sign-off, much of the infrastructure was built by Alameda Point Partners, which in 2016 was awarded the first 68 acres where new development is allowed.

“ ‘I don’t think I would have done this deal without knowing the ferry would be there,’ said Michael Sorochinsky [CEO of an investment company in Alameda Point Partners]. ‘Connectivity is so important.’ ”

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The pandemic scramble to legalize home-based businesses

By M. Nolan Gray, Bloomberg CityLab, January 31, 2022

“In the first year of the pandemic, half of all full-time workers — and more than 70 percent of white-collar professionals — went fully or partially remote in the U.S., and many are saying they may never return to the office. And for all the economic tumult it’s caused, the pandemic has triggered a surge of entrepreneurship — much of it quietly taking place at home.

“Of course, cottage industries didn’t suddenly appear with the onset of Covid-19. As early as 1992, more than half of all firms operated exclusively out of a home.

“But as many entrepreneurs have discovered, U.S. zoning codes regularly subject home-based businesses to unworkable standards, if they don’t ban them altogether.

“It’s a broken system, and one that especially disfavors the women and people of color, who — often excluded from traditional labor markets and access to capital — disproportionately run home-based businesses.

“The good news is, with working from home going mainstream, that has started to change. In mid-2021, Florida policymakers engaged in some state preemption and passed a bill requiring that all municipalities allow home-based business in residential zones. … Similar bills have already been introduced in states like New Jersey and Oklahoma, with more states sure to follow.

“It’s easy to write off the plight of the home-based business as a minor issue. But more often than you might think, they mature into the kinds of traditional brick-and-mortar businesses so desperately needed to fill the vacant storefronts plaguing many U.S. cities. 

“Beyond the economic activity they generate, home-based businesses call into question a zoning system that assumes that different parts of our lives must play out in different places. It’s a planning paradigm that has turned the American city into a segregated and unwalkable mess of office parks, strip malls, and residential subdivisions.”

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

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Santa Cruz gets $29M for affordable housing, transit hub

By Michael Wittner, Santa Cruz Patch, January 28, 2022

“The City of Santa Cruz was awarded $29.6 million [from the California Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program] to fund the affordable Pacific Station North mixed-use project.

“Pacific Station North will provide 95 one, two, and three-bedroom units. 25 of the units will be reserved for families experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness, and the remaining 66 units will be reserved for families [qualifying as low-income].

“The project will also be used to redevelop the bus transit station, enhance the pedestrian experience around Maple Alley, and create retail, office space, and a public bicycle hub.

“ ‘The Pacific Station North development provides a rare opportunity to build much-needed affordable housing while achieving net-zero carbon emissions. The innovative site and building design is a model for future development as we work to support our low-income community members while still adapting to climate change,’ said City Manager Matt Huffaker.”

Read the full article here. (~2 min.)

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A Mendocino County redwood forest has been returned to a group of Native tribes

By Rachel Treisman, NPR-KQED, January 26, 2022

“Save the Redwoods League purchased the 523-acre area (known as Andersonia West) on the Lost Coast of California’s Mendocino County in July 2020. It announced on Tuesday that it had donated and transferred ownership of the property to the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, a consortium of 10 Northern California tribal nations focused on environmental and cultural preservation.

“The forest will be renamed ‘Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ’ — which means ‘fish run place’ in the Sinkyone language — as ‘an act of cultural empowerment and a celebration of Indigenous resilience,’ the league said in a release. The tribal council has granted it a conservation easement, meaning use of the land will be limited for its own protection.

“The league’s 2020 purchase of the forest cost $3.55 million and was fully funded by Pacific Gas & Electric Company (the utility, which has been behind multiple deadly wildfires, supports habitat conservation programs to mitigate other environmental damage it has caused).

“[The council and league] plan to rely on a mix of Indigenous place-based land guardianship principles, conservation science, climate adaptation, and fire resiliency concepts to heal and preserve the area.

“The land donation can be contextualized as part of the broader ‘land back’ movement, an intersectional effort to return Indigenous lands — and autonomy — to Indigenous communities, especially public lands like national parks. Research shows that forced relocation and the loss of historical lands has made Native Americans more vulnerable to climate change.”

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Even in Monterey County, affordable housing does not come cheap

By Pam Marino, Monterey County Weekly, January 24, 2022

“Nonprofit developer [Community Housing Improvement Systems and Planning Association, Inc. (CHISPA)] is about to spend what is likely the highest cost per unit it’s ever encountered: $700,569 per unit for a 65-unit project in East Garrison, located between Marina and Salinas. 

“CHISPA was awarded state funding to build units for farmworkers, which means 43 of the 65 units will be reserved exclusively for farmworkers and their families, much needed here in Monterey County.

“The total cost of the long-awaited apartment building is $45,537,000.

“Compare that price tag to the 47-unit Junsay Oaks senior apartment complex completed by CHISPA in Marina in 2019, which cost approximately $17 million, or $361,700 per unit.

“Dana Cleary, CHISPA’s director of real estate development, says the cost of materials is one big reason for the enormous jump.”

A rule negotiated between the county and unions to pay the “prevailing wage” for labor on the site, plus construction insurance and completion bond requirements due to growing fire hazards, also raised costs.

“Why is CHISPA building the project now? The organization has had the option to build since 2007 … [but when] the Great Recession came in 2008, affordable housing funding dried up. There was some state funding at the start of the pandemic, but CHISPA opted to wait as prices began to rise.

“ ‘When it comes to affordable housing do you sit around and do nothing?’ Cleary asks. The people who need housing most will have it a year or two earlier than if CHISPA had waited to see if prices settled again.”

Read the full article here. (~2 min.)

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