Archive: Mar 2015

  1. Jobs a Blooming, Bills Abound

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    Spring has arrived with blooming flowers, longer days and the news that California’s economy outpaced every other state in job creation in the 12 months ending January 31, 2015 – almost 30% more than the Lone Star state.  Ha!  Spring also heralds legislative committee hearings on the latest batch of bills.  We highlight a package of bills that address California’s ever-worsening affordable housing crisis.  We also note some cities that are turning to linkage fees to leverage the uptick in construction activity as a way to pay for building low cost housing units.  But truly sustainable development requires good paying jobs as well as affordable housing.  And those jobs need a place to grow.  Hence the efforts emerging in high-priced markets like Vancouver and San Francisco to explore mixed industrial/residential zoning.  Before you get too wonky, celebrate the birthday of Cesar Chavez on March 31st and make a note on your calendar for April 18th and 19th.  Those are the opening weekend days of National Park week – we’re talking free entrance days!  So grab your reusable water bottles and enjoy our natural splendor.  We do love spring around here.


    Cecilia V. Estolano, Jennifer LeSar, Katherine A. Perez-Estolano

  2. Addressing the Affordability Problem

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    The growing scarcity of affordable housing in many of the country’s real estate markets has reached a critical point. Wage growth in our recovering economy is not keeping pace with soaring housing prices, making it harder for families to find homes in metros experiencing the most job growth. Nationwide, a surplus of 300,000 affordable housing units has, in less than four decades, morphed into a multi-million unit deficit. One of the most persistent problems policymakers and advocates face is the relatively small pool of sustainable, long-term financing available to fund the production of affordable housing units. But new models are emerging, and a mix of market-based interventions coupled with zoning and land use tools hold the most promise for addressing the nation’s affordable housing problem. (more…)

  3. Industrial Land is Too Valuable to Lose

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    The popularity of higher density urban areas has led to an uptick in real estate development in many of the nation’s metros. In the quest to provide housing, offices, and retail establishments to would-be urbanites, many cities are sacrificing lands that housed industrial activity. But local governments may be squandering an economic development opportunity by sacrificing job-producing land that can strengthen the local economy. In cities where real estate markets are thriving, the balancing act between preserving industrial lands while meeting housing, commercial office, and retail needs is a precarious one. But some regions are exploring policies that aim to address this challenge, and the early results are promising. (more…)

  4. Bills Roundup

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    February 27 was the deadline for state lawmakers to introduce bills for the 2015-2016 legislative session. This week, the legislature will finally get down to business and start considering the hundreds of bills introduced, which run the gamut from affordable housing to infrastructure, to climate change. Only a small fraction of these bills will make it out of both houses by September 11th, bound for the Governor’s desk. Here are some newly introduced bills that we’re following this legislative season: (more…)

  5. Los Angeles 50 Parks Initiative

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    In 2012, the City of Los Angeles set out to increase green spaces in the city’s park-poor neighborhoods by establishing the 50 parks initiative. A project status document from that year indicates the City was poised to enter partnerships with local organizations to produce 50 neighborhood parks. Three years later, the initiative is making progress toward its original goal, with 29 new parks added.