Category: California

California governor signs bill to ease parking requirements and create more affordable housing

On Friday California Governor Jerry Brown signed into a law a bill that will help create more affordable housing by easing parking requirements for developers.

The legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 744, Planning and Zoning: Density Bonus, will allow developers to request reduced minimum parking requirements within affordable housing projects. It also amends the parking ratio for affordable housing and senior housing to require no more the 0.5 parking spaces per unit, and amends the ratio for special needs housing to require no more than 0.3 parking spaces per unit.

Developers seeking to use these ratios must meet established guidelines regarding percentage of affordable units in the project, distance and access to a transit stop, availability of paratransit services, and access to fixed bus route services. The emphasis on transit access will bolster other efforts to make public transportation and active transportation options safer, more convenient, and more accessible for low-income families.

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No horsing around on Del Paso Boulevard in Sacramento, CA

CA Sacramento Del Paso after credit Fehr and Peers
Del Paso Boulevard in Sacramento, CA. Photo courtsey of Fehr & Peers.

This post is the sixth in a series of case studies about Complete Streets people, places, and projects. Follow the full series over the next several weeks.

If you’ve walked along Del Paso Boulevard in Sacramento, CA in recent years, you may have noticed horses imprinted on the street’s brickwork. The bricks are a tribute to the area’s ranching history — and a sign of a modern commitment to safety for everyone using the street.

Between 1844 and the early 1900s, in what is today North Sacramento, sat over 40,000 acres of Del Paso Ranch. The ranch’s ownership passed through several hands before it purchased by James B. Haggins, a Kentucky native who earned his fortune in copper mines and railroads. Haggins raised more than 1,000 thoroughbred horses at Del Paso Ranch, including, according to one source, the first Californian horse to win the Kentucky Derby. In 1905, when Haggins announced that he was leaving horse breeding because he was operating at a loss, a New York Times headline proclaimed that that his stock farm was “the Greatest Nursery of Thoroughbreds in the World.”

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Change in plans

CA San Francisco Bus stop on Cesar Chavez credit Aaron Bialick Streetsblog SFA recent redesign of Cesar Chavez Street makes it better for people walking, bicycling, and taking transit and incorporates green infrastructure. Photo: Aaron Bialick, Streetsblog SF

This post is the second in a series of case studies about Complete Streets people, places, and projects. Follow the full series over the next several weeks.

In the late 1930s, the City of San Francisco had grand plans to build a third bridge across the San Francisco Bay. They designed a major arterial to lead to that bridge, but 80 years later those bridge dreams have never been realized—and the arterial was in sore need of an update.

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Councilmember Mike Kasperzak brings a smart growth approach to Mountain View, CA’s boomtown

Google_Campus,_Mountain_View,_CAGoogleplex in the North Bayshore of Mountain View, CA. Photo by Austin McKinley via Wikipedia.

Mountain View, CA, is booming. New companies are brining new residents—and with them worsening traffic congestion and rising home rental prices. Mike Kasperzak, a Councilmember in Mountain View and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is using a smart growth approach to help Mountain View solve these problems now and stay vibrant for the long term.

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Building great places in the Los Angeles area? Join our LOCUS LinkUP on March 26

Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade isn’t the only walkable neighborhood in the Southern California anymore. Photo by LandAinLA.

Southern California is going through an urban transformation that’s making the region more walkable, one city block at a time—and we are bringing together the people making it happen.

Developers and investors working on walkable real estate projects are invited to join us on Thursday, March 26, 2015 for the LOCUS LinkUp: Building the Next Walkable Places in Southern California.

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Councilmember Ali Saleh uses smart growth to build economic resilience in Bell, California

City of Bell, California. Photo via Joshua Orizaga on Google.

The City of Bell is a small two-square-mile suburb on the outskirts of Los Angeles, CA. Following a political scandal in the early 2000s that left the city almost bankrupt, Bell has made a remarkable recovery. With their finances back on track, it is more important than ever for the city to make fiscally responsible decisions and improve the lives of residents. The city is using smart growth to make that happen.

Councilmember Ali Saleh, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, has been instrumental to the City of Bell’s fiscal stability. Elected in 2011, Saleh first served as mayor and now sits on the City Council. Saleh has supported several smart growth strategies that will improve the economy and the day-to-day lives of residents.

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Anderson, CA works to build a resilient economic identity

lake shasta
Impressive natural features such as Lake Shasta surround Anderson, CA. Photo by U.S. Forest Service via Flickr.

Like many small cities in America, Anderson, CA is proud of its unique and welcoming character. Also like many cities, however, the commuter town of 9,900 residents is reliant on local revenue—and needs to ensure dependable revenue growth without sacrificing that character. A former hub of mining and timber activity, Anderson now largely functions as a bedroom community for nearby Redding. But local officials and community members alike aspire to carve out a more coherent and resilient niche in the regional economy. That’s where Smart Growth America came in.

To begin articulating a vision for the city’s long-term economic development, Anderson officials and residents welcomed experts from Smart Growth America on October 14 and 15, 2014. Over the course of a two-day technical assistance workshop, Smart Growth America provided local stakeholders with the tools to begin thinking through scenarios for Anderson’s future economic identity.

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San Diego works to align zoning laws with sustainability goals

Little Italy
A mixed-use development in San Diego, CA’s Little Italy. Image by Chris via Flickr.

If all goes according to plan, San Diego, CA will soon pass a Climate Action Plan full of ambitious goals for reducing emissions. Integral to the plan is a vision of smart growth: adopting more sustainable land use patterns, particularly through walkable mixed-use, transit-oriented development.

In advance of the plan’s passage, the City of San Diego suspected that its zoning code could be doing more to encourage sustainable development. So they brought in the experts.

On October 9, 2014, a technical assistance team from Smart Growth America and Clarion visited San Diego for a Sustainable Land Use Code Audit workshop. The instructors worked with stakeholders to review key portions of the zoning code to identify how they could better support the mixed-use and transit-oriented development envisioned by the City’s General Plan and made all the more urgent by the anticipated Climate Action Plan.

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