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City of Los Angeles Will Invest More Than $1 Billion In Sidewalk Repairs To Settle Lawsuit

April 8, 2015

Many would think that repairing sidewalks is a basic function of any city government. In Los Angeles, it was not a priority. In fact, the City budgeted zero dollars for sidewalk repairs in some past years.

It took a class action lawsuit to push the City of Los Angeles to provide better access for persons with mobility disabilities to the city’s sidewalks and other walkways.

What is being called “the largest disability access class action settlement in U.S. history”, the City settled Willits v. City of Los Angeles by agreeing to invest more than $1 billion in city sidewalk repairs and other pedestrian improvements over the next 30 fiscal years.

It was refreshing to see Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s response to the settlement Read more…

Adaptive Reuse May Be On The Horizon In Santa Ana

October 28, 2014

My colleagues and I on the Santa Ana Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend that the Santa Ana City Council adopt an Adaptive Reuse Ordinance that will help provide opportunities for some underutilized buildings in the Golden City to be invigorated with new and exciting uses, such as residential and commercial.

The Orange County Register published an article on October 25 discussing the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance in Santa Ana.  “Activating the corner of Main and Washington with residential and commercial activity will breathe new life into a part of Main Street, between the Civic Center and Bowers Museum, that is dormant after the evening rush hour,” said Santa Ana Planning Commissioner Phil Bacerra.

To read more about Santa Ana’s Adaptive Reuse Ordinance and one of the potential adaptive reuse developments in Santa Ana, please read the Orange County Register’s article here.

USC Kicks off Construction of $650 Million USC Village Residential and Retail Development

October 6, 2014

Rendering of the USC Village development.When I was an Urban Planning student at USC, my classmates and I would propose development projects for classes that could replace the existing University Village (The UV).  The Village is a fantastic vision for this site.  Imagine a development like this across from Santa Ana College.

From USC News – On September 15, hundreds gathered to officially break ground on USC Village, a 1.25-million-square-foot residential and retail center that will reshape the university and its residential life.

The biggest development in the history of USC at $650 million, the project also will be one of the largest in the history of South Los Angeles, providing thousands of jobs and pumping billions of dollars into the local economy.

“In the past four years, we have been privileged to break ground on a number of new projects at USC. But this village is an especially historic moment for USC, for our neighborhood and for Los Angeles as a whole,” USC President C. L. Max Nikias declared on Sept. 15 as Los Angeles civic leaders, students, faculty, staff and members of the community applauded at the ceremony, held on the leveled ground of what was once University Village just north of campus.

Scheduled for completion in 2017, the USC Village will include a Read more…

OC Register Owners to Sell Santa Ana Land to William Lyons Homes

May 27, 2014

OrangeCountyRegisterBuildingFrom the Orange County Business Journal – The owners of the Orange County Register have reached a deal to sell the bulk of the land they own around their Santa Ana headquarters to William Lyon Homes.

The Newport Beach-based homebuilder entered into an agreement with Freedom Communications Inc. to buy a stretch of land along Grand Avenue in Santa Ana for a housing development.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but real estate sources peg the likely purchase price in the $40 million range.

That price would appear to make it the largest asset sale-real estate or otherwise-for Freedom Communications since Chief Executive Aaron Kushner’s 2100 Trust LLC took over operation of the media company in 2012.

The company’s new owners have been looking to lighten their debt load since that deal, while at the same time embarking on an ambitious growth plan across several Southern California media markets.

Freedom Communications owns the Orange County Register and other publications, including the Press-Enterprise, which it acquired for $27.2 million last year and the recently launched Los Angeles Register.

The Santa Ana land that is expected to trade hands appears to be Read more…

Santa Ana Planning Commission Approval Of Affordable-Housing Units Near Santa Ana Train Depot Irks Neighbors

May 25, 2014

From the Orange County Register – It will now be up to the Santa Ana City Council to approve an all-affordable-housing development in the Station District that the Planning Commission endorsed May 12 amid outcry from nearby residents who said the project would bring down their property values.

The 70-unit project, known as the Depot at Santiago, drew criticism at the Planning Commission meeting from residents of the Santiago Street Lofts who said that low-income housing would not be suitable in an area that they described as the gateway to the city.

The housing portion of the development will include one-, two- and three-bedroom units with monthly rents ranging from $481 to $1,364. The project also includes commercial and nonresidential space that will be allotted for The Wooden Floor, a local nonprofit that assists underserved youth.

The project, approved in a 5-2 vote, is planned for an approximately 2-acre site at the northeast corner of Santa Ana Boulevard and Santiago Street, near the lofts and the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center. Commissioners Phil Bacerra and Bruce Bauer voted against it.

Bacerra said that although he favors low-income models, he did not agree with the project being 100 percent affordable. “I think it’s important to have the mixture of incomes, the mixture of experiences,” he said.

City spokeswoman Tanya Lyon said Read more…

California Energy Commission Approves City of Lancaster’s Residential Solar Ordinance

January 6, 2014

Lancaster Mayor Rex ParrisCity of Lancaster – California Energy Commission (CEC) has approved the City of Lancaster’s locally adopted energy standards which will require single family residential units built within Lancaster on or after January 1, 2014 to provide an average of 1 kilowatt (kW) of solar-generated electricity per housing unit. Having now been given the authority to enforce the ordinance, Lancaster is the first city in the nation to make residential solar mandatory. The new ordinance, adopted by the Lancaster City Council on March 26, 2013, was approved by the CEC on December 11, 2013.

“We continue to aggressively pursue net-zero status, and this approval by the CEC proves we are indeed on the right path,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “We are strongly committed to reducing our carbon footprint, while advancing green energy alternatives to traditional power resources. Requiring solar power assets for new residential construction in the coming years will bring Lancaster one huge step closer to becoming the Alternative Energy Capital of the World, while providing new homeowners with earth-friendly and cost-effective benefits.”

Lancaster’s Residential Zoning Ordinance was comprehensively revised to require new home builders to Read more…

New California Law Promotes Urban Gardens By Allowing Municipalities To Lower Property Taxes

October 4, 2013

From the Los Angeles Times – California cities and counties eager to encourage community gardens and small-scale farms in urban pockets have a novel tool at their disposal. Legislation recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will allow municipalities to lower the assessed value — and property taxes — on plots of three acres or less if owners pledge to dedicate them to growing food for at least five years.

The legislation authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) arose from this city’s rich blend of urban ag interests: community gardens with long waiting lists, nonprofits that offer hands-on nutritional education, and small enterprises like Galloway’s that took root when officials here changed zoning laws.

The program is voluntary: Interested cities can now move forward to create “urban agriculture incentive zones.” County supervisors must then sign off. (Counties can also directly create their own zones.)

It passed the Senate unanimously and garnered just six no votes in the Assembly.

Ting, a former San Francisco assessor, described it as “a subsidy with a very limited fiscal impact. We’re trying to drive better land use for people who might have a parking lot or an empty lot they’re waiting to develop.”

For years, Ting had backed cutting-edge San Francisco policies that helped transform eyesore parcels, raising property values on entire blocks. The idea spread.

“We started to see a movement in cities all over California that have really decided they want to be growing their food,” he said. “They want to have access to agricultural space.”

The concept for the zones is a hybrid of Read more…