Image result for scott wienerLA Infill Conference: Thank you to all who attended our annual Infill Conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 24th at UCLA Law, featuring a keynote by State Senator Scott Wiener and a conversation with L.A. Metro CEO Phil Washington. See the agenda and Planning Report article on the event. We will post video from the conference soon.

REPORT RELEASE: “Accelerating Infill in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County: Options to Address the Housing Shortage & Wildfire Rebuilding Effort”

Santa Rosa, CA – The Council of Infill Builders released the new report Accelerating Infill in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County: Options to Address the Housing Shortage & Wildfire Rebuilding Effort. Following the devastating Sonoma County wildfires in October 2017, which destroyed about 6,000 homes county-wide and over 3,000 in the City of Santa Rosa alone (at least 5% of its housing stock), the Council of Infill Builders convened state and local public officials, real estate investors and developers, local business leaders, and other stakeholders to discuss options to rebuild homes in a more sustainable, infill-focused way.

The report finds that to rebuild 30,000 homes over the next five years in existing urbanized downtown neighborhoods to meet demand, stakeholders will need to overcome challenges related to market uncertainty due to unknown demand for infill, a lack of demonstrated viability and financing for infill, a lack of policy and process commitment to support infill development, and high costs and fees on infill.

Accelerating Infill in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County recommends seven priority policy solutions to address the rebuilding challenge in the region:

  1. Pilot projects with public partnership with possible concessions regarding fees, land purchase, and streamlined entitlements.
  2. Rent guarantees for employees from employers to boost demand for infill.
  3. A Joint Powers Agency (JPA)/Renewal Enterprise District (RED) to guide and fund infill development.
  4. Zoning, parking requirement, and development fee reforms to encourage rather than stymie infill development.
  5. Improved availability of public sector infill financing and enhanced access to sales and use taxes.
  6. CEQA streamlining for qualifying infill, as contemplated by legislation like AB 2267 (Wood).
  7. A market study and project development navigator to help streamline infill investment and deployment.

You can read Accelerating Infill in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County here and download the press release.

Governor Brown Signs Council of Infill Builders’ Bill to Create New Financing Tool for Infill Projects

On October 7th, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 1568 (Bloom): “Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvements Act” (NIFTI).  NIFTI authorizes local governments to finance infill projects within an enhanced infrastructure finance district based on future tax revenue increases, such as from sales and occupancy taxes.  This innovative new financing tool will help California’s cities and counties build sustainable, equitable infill projects to address the housing shortage and meet the climate goals in Assembly and Senate Bills 32.

Council of Infill Builders board member Meea Kang led the successful legislative effort for the organization. “NIFTI will be a powerful tool to help finance badly needed infill projects in the state,” Kang said. “We know many pioneering infill projects lack access to upfront capital for supportive infrastructure and other needs, and this bill helps local governments fill that gap without raising taxes or fees.”

The Council of Infill Builders thanks our partner organizations for this legislative success, including Natural Resources Defense Council, Planning and Conservation League, Housing Advocates, Housing California, Public Advocates, and Western Center on Law and Poverty, among others.  For more information, please see the full bill text and fact sheet from the California legislature.

REPORT RELEASE: “Wasted Spaces: Options to Reform Parking Policy in Los Angeles”

Los Angeles, CA – The Council of Infill Builders released the new report Wasted Spaces: Options to Reform Parking Policy in Los Angeles.  Based on an expert convening in January 2017, the report finds that excessive parking requirements for new development, lack of adequate pricing and enforcement for existing parking spaces, and failure to better manage parking assets in the region wastes space, drives up housing prices and rents, and limits overall mobility in the region.

Wasted Spaces contains priority policy solutions to address the parking challenges in Los Angeles:

  • Eliminate, reduce or right-size minimum parking requirements for any new development project;
  • Charge optimal pricing for parking and ensure revenue from enforcement benefits the local community; and
  • Improve parking management rather than mandating new parking requirements in the zoning code, such as through shared parking and transportation demand options.

“Meeting LA’s affordability challenges and growing the city around our transit network will require smart land use policies,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar (District 14), “Wasted Spaces provides meaningful solutions for city leaders to consider in re-assessing and updating our parking policies.”

To implement the solutions, the report recommends that local leaders take the following steps:

  • Reframe parking policy reform as “improving overall mobility and access to destinations” to alleviate local fears, as well as demonstration projects and policies to test out parking reform concepts with concerned neighbors;
  • Gather, curate and centralize parking data in a clearinghouse to educate the public and policy makers about actual parking needs and supply in a given area; and
  • Find common ground on housing and transportation policies with those seeking to leverage high parking requirements for concessions, such as by creating grants or other incentives for local jurisdictions that actively manage parking to address these conflicts.

You can read Wasted Spaces here and download the press release.

EVENT: Los Angeles Parking Policy Reform & Report Release Conference – Tuesday, May 16, 2017, at L.A. City Hall

This interactive conference at Los Angeles City Hall (Bradley Tower room) featured parking reform options to boost transit neighborhoods. The event was co-sponsored by Councilmember Jose Huizar and TransitCenter and launched the Council of Infill Builders report “Wasted Spaces” on parking reform.  Seleta Reynolds, General Manager, Los Angeles Department of Transportation provided the keynote address, followed by a panel discussion.  See the agenda for more details.

Sponsored By:

Office of Councilmember Jose Huizar
Latham & Watkins LLP
Craig Lawson & Co., LLC
Civic Enterprise
American Institute of Architects
Westside Urban Forum

Summary Report to Boost Infill, Renewables, Energy Efficiency and Farmland in Fresno and Beyond

Sustainable Fresno Report -- Feb 2016 CoverFresno, CA – The Council of Infill Builders released a new summary of steps that Fresno leaders and state officials can take to boost infill development, renewable energy deployment, and energy efficiency retrofits, while preserving farmland.  The summary report resulted from an evening discussion at Fresno State on January 21st, featuring state and local officials, business leaders, policy advocates, and other land use experts in Fresno and surrounding communities. You can read more about that event here.  “Sustainable Jobs in Sustainable Industries: Opportunities for Fresno” provides action items for state and local leaders on each of these critical topics.  For more information, please see the PowerPoint presentations from the evening event here.

Governor Brown Signs Council of Infill Builders’ Bill to Limit Parking Requirements for Affordable Housing Near Transit

Meea Kang, DirectorOn October 9th, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 744 (Chau): “Planning and Zoning: Density Bonus,” which will allow developers to request reduced minimum parking requirements for affordable housing projects near transit. The measure will help California implement its climate goals in AB 32 and land use and transportation plans in SB 375. Council of Infill Builders board member Meea Kang was instrumental in achieving this success, which updates California’s Density Bonus law to allow developments to build less parking if they maintain a portion of their units as affordable to low income residents and are near good quality transit. “I am so thrilled the Governor signed AB 744,” commented Kang. “AB 744 is a common sense reform that lowers parking requirements to boost affordable housing production near quality transit.”

The bill also amends the parking ratio for affordable housing and senior housing to require no more than 0.5 parking spaces per unit, and it amends the ratio for special needs housing to require no more than 0.3 parking spaces per unit. Partner organizations were critical to the this success, including AARP, Local Government Commission, TransForm, Circulate San Diego, American Planning Association, California Council for Affordable Housing, California Economic Summit, and Enterprise Community Partners, as well as individuals like Professor Donald Shoup of UCLA and Jeffery Tumlin of Nelson Nygaard, among many others. For more information, please see the full bill text and fact sheet from the California legislature.

New Bringing Downtown Back Report Released
Bringing Downtown Back Report Cover

Sacramento, CA – The Council of Infill Builders released a new report that identifies key barriers and recommends solutions for investing in the once-vibrant city centers of San Joaquin Valley communities. “Bringing Downtown Back: Ways to Boost Infill Development in the San Joaquin Valley” resulted from a convening of Valley builders, public officials, financial leaders, and land use experts in Fresno to identify the challenges cities face in efforts to meet the emerging demand for walkable, convenient neighborhoods. For more details, visit our Bringing Downtown Back page. View the Press Release.

SmartSpace Brings Infill to a New Level

Smart Space CoverSan Francisco, CA – Developer Patrick Kennedy of Panoramic Interests used four years of research and development to design the first pre-fab, micro-apartment project in the United States. The project objectives include: maximizing productive value of a constrained, in-fill development site; delivering car-free, affordable, entry-level housing, close to public transit and jobs; minimizing construction waste, environmental impact, and disruption to neighborhood; achieving LEED Platinum, maximize sustainability, and minimize energy consumption; demonstrating market viability of well-designed micro-apartments. The project has already been recognized for its innovation. Learn more about the project: SmartSpace and its Planning Aspects.

Central Valley Housing Study Released

A Home for Everyone Report CoverBakersfield, CA – The Council of Infill Builders released a new study of forecasted housing demand in the Central Valley through 2050, showing that the Valley will need significantly more compact, walkable homes to meet future demand. For more details, visit our Reports page.