Bay Area Council Blog: Housing and Sustainable Development Archive

CASA compact

Bold Regional Housing Plan Wins Key Endorsement

A sweeping plan to address the Bay Area’s crushing housing crisis won a key vote on Thursday (Jan. 17) that now sets the stage for legislation and possible ballot measures to move its many recommendations forward. The Association of Bay Area Governments endorsed the CASA Compact, which was developed over 18 months by a diverse group of stakeholders led by former Bay Area Council Chair and TMG Partners CEO Michael Covarrubias along with San Francisco Foundation CEO Fred Blackwell and Silicon Valley @Home CEO Leslye Corsiglia.

The 15-year emergency plan outlines 10 key elements that seek to balance the broad regional goals of protecting tenants, preserving affordable housing and spurring new residential construction. It targets an historic dearth of new housing construction that has led to stratospheric rents and home prices throughout the region, contributed to a growing homeless epidemic, forced workers on longer and longer commutes and threatened to undermine the region’s economy.

The plan represented a grand bargain, of sorts, with everyone involved in developing it having to compromise on various components. Many of the solutions in the CASA Compact are not new and are consistent with approaches the Bay Area Council has long endorsed, including encouraging new housing near transit and easing local regulatory barriers and fees. A number of the proposals, from reducing onerous regulatory burdens to utilizing state-owned land for housing, are similar to those that Gov. Gavin Newsom included in his proposed budget. In the end, it represents the kind of compromise that is necessary to move forward. To participate in the Bay Area Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

CASA compact

Bold Regional Plan Offers Unique Opportunity to Significantly Help Fix the Bay Area’s Painful Housing Crisis

Solving the Bay Area’s epic housing crisis will require a wide range of strategies and a considerable amount of give and take among a diverse mix of stakeholders, many with competing and sometimes conflicting interests. A bold, comprehensive regional plan unveiled in December aims to take on the immense challenge of bringing together all those pieces and giving the Bay Area a unique and perhaps once-in-a-generation opportunity to solve a problem whose scale and complexity flatly defies half measures. TMG Partners CEO and former Bay Area Council Chair Michael Covarrubias co-chaired the group—Committee to House the Bay Area or CASA—that developed the plan, dubbed the CASA Compact. Initial reviews have been generally favorable as key decisions loom for moving the plan forward in the coming weeks and months, but some critics long-aligned against specific parts of the plan are eyeing it warily.

“Doing nothing as our region suffers from a historic housing shortage and affordability crisis is not an option,” Covarrubias said. “We must compromise, break down silos, and set aside differences for the greater good of the Bay Area, and the CASA Compact gives us a unique opportunity to do just that.”

The CASA Compact was developed through an exhaustive public process over 18 months by a group of more than 50 government, housing, social equity, business and community leaders from around the region convened by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation and Leslye Corsiglia, Executive Director of Silicon Valley@Home joined Covarrubias in co-chairing CASA.

The 15-year emergency plan outlines 10 key elements that seek to balance the broad regional goals of protecting tenants, preserving affordable housing and spurring new residential construction. It targets an historic dearth of new housing construction that has led to stratospheric rents and home prices throughout the region, contributed to a growing homeless epidemic, forced workers on longer and longer commutes and threatened to undermine the region’s economy.

Many of the solutions in the regional plan are not new and are consistent with approaches the Bay Area Council has long endorsed, including encouraging new housing near transit and easing local regulatory barriers and fees. Many will require state legislation. Still others will require voter approval. A number of the proposals, from reducing onerous regulatory burdens to utilizing state-owned land for housing, are similar to those that Gov. Gavin Newsom this week included in his proposed budget.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board, “The plan’s most entrenched opponents have been less likely to suggest modifications than to decry the process, cast aspersions on its motives, and blindly insist on the sacrosanctity of local rule. What they haven’t done is explain how they would alter the status quo — probably because they have no desire to do so.”

MTC’ Board of Directors by a near-unanimous vote recently endorsed the CASA Compact, and ABAG has scheduled a vote for Jan. 17 before CASA leaders take it to Sacramento to share with state legislators. The Bay Area Council, which has been carefully studying the plan over the past month, is preparing to announce a formal position next week ahead of the ABAG vote. As the Council considers its position, we welcome your thoughts. To give your input, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

Construction - On Site

Seattle Shows Benefits of Increasing Housing Supply

Funny how the whole supply/demand thing works when it comes to housing. A recent story in the Seattle Times by former Bay Area News Group reporter Mike Rosenberg found that rents in the northwest city are steadily dropping as a decade-long surge in new housing construction begins to sate demand—even as the region grows. It’s a message the Bay Area Council has been promoting for many years as we work to reduce the onerous fees, legal obstacles and local resistance that have stymied new housing and resulted in skyrocketing prices and rents. Seattle has one of the country’s highest rates of multi-family housing construction permit approvals in the country, a rate that this 25 percent higher than the Bay Area.

The Council this year is supporting legislation by state Sen. Scott Wiener (San Francisco) that would dramatically increase higher density housing near transit. We’ve been heavily engaged in the work of CASA, a regional coalition of business, housing, government, community and social equity groups that recently unveiled an ambitious and sweeping plan to produce more housing. And we’re continuing our aggressive push to remove barriers to building affordable accessory dwelling units (aka granny or in-law units). To engage in our housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

housing cmte

Resounding Council YES to Denser Housing near Transit

The Bay Area Council Housing Committee this week endorsed Sen. Scott Wiener’s revised legislation aimed at increasing housing density near public transportation. Under SB 50, housing density limits would be raised near transit, job centers and high-quality public schools. The Committee also heard from TMG Partners CEO (and former Council Chair) Michael Covarrubias about a bold regional plan to address the region’s housing crisis. Covarrubias is a Co-Chair of Committee to House the Bay Area, or CASA, which the Metropolitan Transportation Commission convened to come up with solutions. The 10-point, 15-year “emergency policy package” CASA unveiled on Wednesday (Dec. 12) included a range of proposals to speed up new housing approvals, encourage denser housing near transit, expand rental and housing assistance programs, promote accessory dwelling units and impose emergency rent caps, among others. The plan calls for creating 35,000 housing units a year, well above current levels. Many of the proposals would need legislative action to take effect. The Committee took no action on the CASA plan and the Council is continuing its review. The Committee also received a presentation by Nomaad, an Italian company that manufactures an innovative new housing type that uses high-rise technology to create extremely light stackable all-inclusive micro units. The Committee also endorsed three projects that would add 1,187 new units of much needed housing in Berkeley, Mountain View and Lafayette. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

wiener

Wiener Returns with New Housing-Transit Bill

State Sen. Scott Wiener is stepping up again to address California’s massive housing crisis, this week introducing legislation that would require higher-density housing near transit-rich areas. The bill, SB 50, is similar to legislation Wiener introduced last year that brought a firestorm of opposition from cities and others concerned it went too far in dictating local zoning and land use decisions. The Bay Area Council served on a diverse stakeholder group to provide input on the new legislation, which includes a variety of provisions that address concerns related to local control, gentrification and displacement. And, we remain closely engaged with YIMBY (yes in my backyard) groups that are sponsoring the bill.

SB 50, the Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, Equity and Stability Act (HOMES), is consistent with the Council’s work to increase housing near rail, bus and other high-volume transit systems. A recent California Air Resources Board report found that increasing commute distances—and the tailpipe emissions they produce—caused by a lack of housing threaten the state’s ability to reach its aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals. The findings were similar to a 2015 report—Another Inconvenient Truth—by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

tailpipe

Damning Report Highlights What Council Has Been Saying for Years

A damning report the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released this week confirms what the Bay Area Council has been saying for years about the link between housing and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The report found that California is not on track to meet its aggressive GHG reduction goals and puts much blame on the state’s failure to produce new housing, particularly in areas near major job centers and close to mass transit. In the Bay Area, the housing crisis means more and more commuters are being forced to drive longer and longer distances in search of affordable homes. Those extra miles produce extra tailpipe emissions, which account for 40 percent of the state’s GHGs.

In a letter the Bay Area Council submitted to CARB in March, we warned about the state’s inability to produce infill housing and its effect on our GHG reduction goals. The Council called on CARB to examine all and any tools at its disposal to increase desperately needed infill housing. The letter stated, “If necessary, CARB can mandate that cities approve plan-compliant housing in jobs rich and transit-served communities and implement the vision of “by right” housing laid out in Governor Brown’s 2016 Budget May Revise.” The letter followed by two years a report by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute —Another Inconvenient Truth—that reached essentially the same conclusion as the new CARB report.

The CARB report comes as the Council readies its 2019 housing agenda, including continuing our advocacy on a range of reforms to expand accessory dwelling units (aka granny units), strengthen local accountability for meeting housing obligations, increase investment in affordable housing and updating local land use and zoning laws to encourage more housing near transit. The Council is also beginning to examine how parochial traffic regulations, infrastructure and ordinances contribute to increased auto emissions, a topic not addressed in the CARB report. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

BAC_lrg

Members Making News: Sutter Health, Heller Manus

Sutter Health’s Mills-Peninsula Medical Center recently announced the launch of a new groundbreaking approach to avoid delays in treating strokes, which are the fifth leading cause of death and the top contributor to long-term disability in the U.S. In a public private partnership, Sutter Health will pilot a new specially-equipped and -staffed ambulance, called a mobile stroke unit (MSU). The goal is to test whether bringing stroke diagnosis and treatment to patients—rather than waiting for them to arrive at the emergency department—improves outcomes. From the outside the MSU resembles a standard ambulance, but inside it equipped with a CT scanner and other technology critical for diagnosing stroke. Initially, a stroke neurologist will ride in the Mobile Stroke Unit. Data gathered through the Mills-Peninsula pilot will contribute to national efforts aimed at demonstrating the mobile stroke unit’s ability.

 

Heller Manus Founder and President and Bay Area Council board member Jeffrey Heller recently was awarded one of the top honors in architecture, the MIT Architecture Alumni Lifetime Achievement award. Heller joined I.M Pei in receiving the illustrious honor. In making the award, MIT said: Since its beginning in 1984, Heller Manus has established a reputation for influencing architecture and urban design in the Bay Area, nationally and internationally. Heller is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Heller is a major supporter of MIT’s Department of Architecture, where his Jeffrey D. Heller Fund provides graduate student financial support and is helping MIT move the needle on its goal of making the School of Architecture and Planning tuition free for all graduate students. Congratulations, Jeff!

UpforGrowth[1]

California’s Housing Horrors

California is producing just seven units of housing for every 10 new households, according to a report by Up for Growth that was the focus of a discussion the Bay Area Council convened on Halloween with top state and regional leaders. State Board of Equalization Chair Fiona Ma, Assemblymember David Chiu, TMG Partners executive and former Council Housing Committee co-Chair Denise Pinkston and UC Berkeley Terner Center leader Carol Galante headlined the event hosted by Council member Reed Smith. The report found that high rents are a top driver of homelessness statewide and that the housing crisis is gives California the highest level of out-migration among all western states. The panelists, in a discussion moderated by Council CEO Jim Wunderman, outlined a number of solutions to spurring new production, including regionalizing housing responsibilities, reducing construction cost using innovative building practices, and using tax policies to help make building middle income housing feasible. Read the full report here>>

Homeless

Council-Backed Bills Provide New Tools to Combat Homelessness

This year’s legislative session closed with Governor Brown signing three Bay Area Council-backed bills aimed at easing California’s spiraling homelessness crisis. SB 1045 (Wiener) creates a five-year pilot program for San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego counties to experiment with stronger conservatorship laws to remove people with severe mental illnesses from the streets. SB 918 (Wiener) requires state agencies to better track outreach and effectiveness of programs targeting homeless youth. AB 2162 (Chiu) provides expedited permitting for new housing developments that set aside certain percentages of their units for permanent supportive housing.

The Bay Area has the third largest homeless population in the United States behind New York City and Los Angeles County. In recent surveys of Bay Area Council member companies, solving chronic homelessness has emerged as one of the highest public policy priorities. This year, the Bay Area Council formed a homelessness task force to guide the Council on regional homelessness policies, and we are working with McKinsey & Co. to produce a first-of-its-kind regional assessment of homelessness in the Bay Area to be completed in early 2019. To engage with the Council’s homelessness policy work, please contact Vice President, Public Policy Adrian Covert.

lafayette

City Manager Resignation Highlights Housing Frustration

The city manager of tony Lafayette submitted his resignation this week in a move that reflected the growing frustration many in the Bay Area feel about local resistance to sensible new housing, particularly near transit. City Manager Steve Falk’s resignation letter generated considerable media interest as it struck a chord with so many residents in the Bay Area struggling to find affordable housing.

“All cities—even small ones—have a responsibility to address the most significant challenges of our time: climate change, income inequality, and housing affordability,” Falk wrote. He referred in his letter to the defeat of a recent ballot measure that would have authorized new housing and the opposition by Lafayette Mayor Don Tatzin and other East Bay elected officials to legislation (SB 2923) the Bay Area Council supported that would allow BART to develop new housing near its stations. “I believe that adding multifamily housing at the BART station is the best way for Lafayette to do its part, and it has therefore become increasingly difficult for me to support, advocate for, or implement policies that would thwart transit density. My conscience won’t allow it.”

To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.