2020 Press & Letters
August 10, 2020: SB 288 (Wiener) would temporarily exempt infill mobility projects, including local actions to reduce parking minimums, from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Read our support letter.
June 23, 2020: We are pleased to support AB 3030 (Kalra), to protect 30% of California’s land and oceans by 2030, improving equitable access to open space for residents of infill communities. Read our support letter.
June 9, 2020: Read our coalition letter to Gov. Newsom and legislative leaders encouraging them to prioritize homeless shelters, renter production, and affordable housing production in the state budget.
May 13, 2020: We support California’s state government proceeding with statewide implementation of SB 743, to streamline environmental review for infill housing.
May 4, 2020: We support AB 2323 (Friedman and Chiu), to expand CEQA infill exemptions to projects in low-vehicle miles traveled (VMT) areas. Read our support letter and request for further changes to improve these exemptions.
March 12, 2020: Missed our LA Infill conference at UCLA Law last year? We’ve now posted video of the conference, divided into Part 1 and Part 2. Speakers included Sen. Scott Wiener, Liam Dillon from the Los Angeles Times, and LA Metro CEO Phil Washington, among others.
January 20, 2020: The Council of Infill Builders submitted a new letter in support of the amended version of Senate Bill 50 (Wiener) to reduce local restrictions on housing near major transit and jobs.
2019 Press & Letters
LA 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. Watch the video of the conference, divided into Part 1 and Part 2.
October 19, 2019: We partnered with SPUR, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, Office of Planning and Research and California High-Speed Rail Authority to recommend to Gov. Newsom actions that the state can take to support cities and fully capture the investment in passenger rail. SPUR summary with graphics here.
September 24, 2019: Watch the Council of Infill Builders and California Lawyers Association webinar discussion with outgoing director Ben Metcalf of the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
August 27, 2019: Board member Meea Kang speaks to California Forward about the need to boost more varieties of infill development through state policy.
July 31, 2019: Our LA Infill conference at UCLA Law on Wednesday, July 24th, featuring a keynote by State Senator Scott Wiener, successfully explored infill challenges and opportunities in Southern California. Read The Planning Report’s summary of our conversation with L.A. Metro CEO Phil Washington during the afternoon panel.
June 17, 2019: Pleased to announce registration is now open for our annual Infill Conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 24th, featuring a keynote by State Senator Scott Wiener and a conversation with L.A. Metro CEO Phil Washington. See the agenda and purchase your ticket (seating is limited). Free & discounted passes available for eligible members.
June 6, 2019: Our advisory committee member Patrick Kennedy and his company Panoramic Interests propose a 1,000-unit housing development next to the West Oakland BART station, complete with 59 parking spaces, retail, parks, and offices, including a 23-story tower, as detailed in the San Francisco Chronicle.
April 26, 2019: Caltrans released a request for proposals to study the relationship between parking and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for a statewide database, as our Wasted Spaces report on parking reform recommended.
March 18, 2019: Los Angeles-based Amped Kitchens, headed by board member Mott Smith, purchases three-parcel industrial complex in Chicago with plans to convert the facility into 64 separate commercial kitchens ranging from 150 to 2,000 square feet, as detailed in Real Deal article.
March 6, 2019: Board member Mott Smith discusses the importance of reducing parking minimums in Los Angeles, following San Diego’s recent lead, on KPCC Radio’s Airtalk.
February 6, 2019: The Council of Infill Builders submits a coalition letter to Caltrans, urging the agency to speed adoption of “vehicles miles traveled” analyses for new roadway projects.
February 5, 2019: Infill project spotlight: Hamilton Cottages in Novato, just steps from the Novato SMART train station, features 16 homes in a 1.5 acre pocket park with shared amenities. A joint project by board member Keith McCoy’s UrbanMix Development and Ryder Homes, homes will be available for sale this spring.
January 18, 2019: The California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) recently released helpful technical guidance outlining the criteria that infill projects must meet to secure exemptions or streamlining under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
2018 Press & Letters
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:
- Pilot projects with public partnership with possible concessions regarding fees, land purchase, and streamlined entitlements.
- Rent guarantees for employees from employers to boost demand for infill.
- A Joint Powers Agency (JPA)/Renewal Enterprise District (RED) to guide and fund infill development.
- Zoning, parking requirement, and development fee reforms to encourage rather than stymie infill development.
- Improved availability of public sector infill financing and enhanced access to sales and use taxes.
- CEQA streamlining for qualifying infill, as contemplated by legislation like AB 2267 (Wood).
- A market study and project development navigator to help streamline infill investment and deployment.
December 5, 2018: The Council of Infill Builders is pleased to support Senate Bill 50 (Wiener) to reduce local restrictions on housing near major transit.
November 30, 2018: Board president Curt Johansen consulted and quoted in major new California Air Resources Board report documenting how the state’s major urban regions are not meeting their vehicle miles traveled targets under SB 375 (Steinberg, 2008).
October 2, 2018: The Council of Infill Builders applauds the passage of Assembly Bill 2923 (Chiu) to boost infill development around select BART rail transit stations in the San Francisco Bay Area. See our original support letter for more information.
August 8, 2018: The Council of Infill Builders is pleased to announce that Keith McCoy, President and a Founding Partner of UrbanMix Development, LLC, has joined the board of directors. Welcome Keith! See our media advisory, and more information can be found on our board of directors here.
July 10, 2018: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development touts our infill parking reduction law for affordable housing, AB 744 (Chau, 2015) and cites director Meea Kang’s work on the legislation, in its spring 2018 newsletter.
June 1, 2018: California’s First District Court of Appeal published Jensen v. City of Santa Rosa (Case No. A144782) after Monchamp Meldrum LLP submitted a letter on behalf of the Council of Infill Builders, which will discourage meritless challenges to infill projects based on noise impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
March 14, 2018: The Council of Infill Builders are pleased to submit this support letter for Assembly Bill 2923 by Assemblymember David Chiu, which will boost infill development around BART rail transit stations.
February 21, 2018: Mott Smith and Ethan Elkind support relaxing zoning restrictions on housing near transit in a Sacramento Bee op-ed, as proposed by Senate Bill 827 (Wiener).
January 9, 2018: The Council of Infill Builders are pleased to submit this support letter for Senate Bill 827 by Sen. Scott Wiener, which will significantly boost housing in transit-and job-rich cities by relaxing local restrictions on height, density and on-site parking.
2017 Press & Letters
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.
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.
December 4, 2017: Read our statement applauding the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research for finalizing guidelines to transition California from an outdated transportation metric privileging automobile traffic to one focused on reducing overall driving miles.
October 18, 2017: With a coalition of Los Angeles nonprofits and academics, we submitted a comment letter today to the City of Los Angeles Department of Planning to encourage greater reform of planned parking requirements in transit-oriented areas under re:code LA.
October 13, 2017: Today we submitted a coalition letter from environmental and real estate nonprofits across California to urge Governor Brown to finalize the long-overdue CEQA guidelines, as required by SB 743 (Sternberg, 2013). These guidelines will help ease environmental review for infill projects throughout the state.
October 7, 2017: Thank you to Governor Jerry Brown for signing our sponsored bill AB 1568 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, which will provide a badly needed financing tool for transit-oriented infill! Learn more about the Neighborhood Infill Finance and Transit Improvements Act (NIFTI) with this fact sheet and FAQ.
September 29, 2017: Board member Meea Kang appears on “Gimme Shelter” housing podcast with L.A. Times and CalMatters housing reporters to discuss our NIFTI bill and the legislative session on housing:
September 20, 2017: Our sponsored bill AB 1568 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, which will provide a needed financing tool for transit-oriented infill, passed the California Legislature and is on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for signature. See the AB 1568 fact sheet and FAQ for more information.
June 30, 2017: Congratulations to board member Meea Kang, who joined Related California last month as Senior Vice President. Related California develops affordable multifamily residential and mixed-use properties in California. “I am looking forward to working in tandem with the company’s excellent leadership team,” Kang said, “to achieve increased sustainability and affordability for California’s housing market.”
May 5, 2017: Strong coalition support letter for Council of Infill Builders-sponsored AB 1568 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, which will provide important financing tool for transit-oriented infill and workforce housing.
April 19, 2017: Council of Infill Builders submits a support letter for State Senator Nancy Skinner’s SB 167 to strengthen the Housing Accountability Act as a valuable tool to ensure that localities do not reduce housing production at the expense of California’s renters, home buyers, and economic growth.
April 7, 2017: Council of Infill Builders submits a support letter for Assemblymembers Richard Bloom, David Chiu and Todd Gloria’s AB 1505, which would restore the authority of local governments to choose to require the inclusion of affordable rental units as one component of their local inclusionary housing policies.
2016 Press & Letters
Council Comments on Caldrons Local Development Program – December 20, 2016
Council of Infill Builders submits letter to Caltrans on the agency’s new Local Development – Intergovernmental Review Program to incorporate state-mandated transition from “level of service” or auto-delay analysis to a regional vehicle miles traveled assessment.
Council Submits Comments on California Air Resources Board Climate Change Scoping Plan – September 30, 2016
Council of Infill Builders submits comments on the California Air Resources Board scoping plan to meet 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets through the transportation and land use sectors.
Council Sponsors Los Angeles Business Council’s Housing and Transportation Summit – September 7, 2016
Register now for the Los Angeles Business Council’s annual housing and transportation summit on October 28th, featuring LA Metro CEO Phil Washington. We are proud to be a cooperating organization for this event.
Mott Smith Op-Ed on LA Planning for Infill – August 1, 2016
Mott Smith co-wrote an op-ed with Mark Vallianatos in the Los Angeles Times on why Los Angeles doesn’t need more zoning and instead should focus on planning for its public spaces.
Patrick Kennedy Profiled on Microhousing for the Homeless – June 29, 2016
Patrick Kennedy sees microhousing as a solution to homelessness in San Francisco, as documented in the San Francisco Chronicle’s extensive coverage on the homeless challenge.
Council Supports Governor Brown’s “By-Right” Housing Proposal – June 9, 2016
Council of Infill Builders submits support letter for Governor Brown’s “by-right” approval proposal for multi-family housing close to transit, provided it does not preclude local governments from granting density bonuses.
US Treasury Secretary Meets with Director Smith on LA Prep Project – May 20, 2016
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Congressman Xavier Becerra meet with Mott Smitth at “L.A. Prep” to discuss federal tax credits for infill projects.
Council Director Mott Smith Interviewed on new LA Prep Project – March 23, 2016
Mott Smith is interviewed by The Planning Report about his “L.A. Prep” commercial kitchen infill project.
Council Director Mott Smith on LA’s Anti-Housing Initiative – February 16, 2016
Mott Smith discusses the negative consequences of a proposed ballot initiative to roll back infill development in the City of Los Angeles on KCRW radio.
Materials on Sustainable Jobs for Fresno – January 25, 2016
Event PowerPoint slides from the “Sustainable Jobs For Fresno” January 21st discussion now available.
2015 Press & Letters
Council’s Comments to the Strategic Growth Council – 10/30/15
The Council of Infill Builders submitted comments on the Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing & Sustainable Communities (AHSC) draft revised program guidelines, which will govern the distribution of cap-and-trade auction revenue to meritorious infill projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Council’s Comments on the CEQA Guidelines – 10/29/15
The Council of Infill Builders submitted comments on the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines amendments.
Council’s Smith LA Prep Infill Project Featured on New – 07/31/15
Mott Smith’s “LA Prep” infill commercial kitchen project has a ribbon-cutting featured on CBS News Los Angeles.
Council’s Johansen Project Featured on Radio – 07/29/15
Curt Johansen’s Reedley project featured on National Public Radio.
Lofts on 18th Approved – 07/23/15
Eydie Gibson’s downtown Bakersfield “Lofts on 18th” project was supported by the Council of Infill Builders and then approved by the Bakersfield City Council.
Low Income Housing Project Receives State Funding – 07/10/15
Meea Kang of Domus Development receives coveted cap-and-trade funding for affordable housing development in Stockton.
Council Supports Bakersfield Lofts on 18th – 06/01/15
The Council of Infill Builders is pleased to support Viridian’s “Lofts on 18th” housing proposal to revitalize downtown Bakersfield.
High Speed Rail and Infill – 05/25/15
Curt Johansen pens a Sacramento Bee op-ed to discuss the benefits of high speed rail and infill for California.
Challenges of Infill Building in Hollywood – 05/05/15
Mott Smith discusses the challenges of building infill in Hollywood and beyond on KCRW radio in Los Angeles.
Council Letter on AB 779 – 04/24/15
The Council of Infill Builders opposes AB 779 (Garcia) which seeks to roll back badly needed CEQA reform for infill.
Cap and Trade Comment Letter- 01/16/15
The Council of Infill Builders submitted comments on the Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing & Sustainable Communities (AHSC) draft program guidelines, which will govern the distribution of $130 million in cap-and-trade auction revenue to meritorious infill projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
2014 Press & Letters
Coalition Letter on SB 743 Implementation – 11/21/14
The Council of Infill Builders also signed on to a coalition letter on SB 743 implementation of environmental and housing advocates.
Council Comments on SB 743 – 11/20/14
The Council of Infill Builders submitted comments on SB 743 (Steinberg) implementation by the Governor’s Office of Planning and research, which promises to streamline CEQA analysis of transportation impacts for infill projects.
“Driving Miles” is Best Measure of New Development – 11/19/14
In this San Francisco Gate op-ed, Council of Infill Builders board president Curt Johansen pens about on SB 743 and CEQA reform with Jeremy Madsen of Greenbelt Alliance.
ViewPoints: Livable Communities at Stake if Fuels Aren’t in Cap and Trade – 08/22/14
In this Sacramento Bee op-ed, Council of Infill Builders board president Curt Johansen argues that California should not delay including transportation fuels in the cap-and-trade program. The revenue will help fund transit and affordable housing and will put California on a path to a sustainable future.
Council Comments on Small Lot Ordinance – 07/30/14
The Coucil stands behind the principle that small lot development will be one of the most important tools cities have to meet changing demand for housing as well as the mandated outcomes of AB 32 and SB 375.
Council Signs On to ARB Letter – 05/19/14
ClimatePlan and its partners commend the Air Resources Board for its great work on the San Joaquin Valley greenhouse gas reductions work. However, concerns remain about transportation plans, modeling and accountability.
Partnership Comments on Kern County Plans – 05/05/14
The Southern Sierra Partnership, including the Council, submitted a letter to the Kern Council of Governments. This letter outlined how the Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy did not take advantage of opportunities for economic and environmental resilience.
Council Supports Infill in San Joaquin County – 04/22/14
The Council supports the inclusion of infill development over the traditional suburbs in the County’s Sustainable Communities Strategy, which would align with market trends for walkable communities.
Downtown Fresno is Ripe for Boom – 04/20/14
Fresno Bee – Fresno may be poised for a comeback but will it take the opportunity, asks Council of Infill Builders President Curt Johansen. Consumers want walkable neighborhoods, but land use laws and regulations are holding Fresno back. Leaders are now revamping those development codes to revitalize the region.
Valley Cities Can See Rebirth, Report Says – 04/17/14
Central Valley Business Times – A new report released by the Council of Infill Builders including input from builders, public officials, and financial leaders outlines how to overcome challenges in creating compact development.
Revitalizing City Centers is key to managing growth in San Joaquin Valley – 04/17/14
Press Release – The Council of Infill Builders today released a new report, which identifies key barriers and recommends solutions for investing in the once-vibrant city centers of San Joaquin Valley communities.
Reviving the Valley’s Downtowns – 04/13/14
Bakersfield Californian – The Council’s Curt Johansen outlines how the Valley’s downtown had seen underinvestment and deterioration but they are now thriving and will become California’s fastest growing region.
2013 Press & Letters
Council Supports Infill Scenario in Valley COG RTP – 11/21/13
The Council supports a preferred scenario in the Regional Transportation Plan that advances infill-oriented infrastructure over the coming decades in order to realize its many economic benefits for cities and towns in Fresno County.
ViewPoints: CEQA Reform is No Longer Stuck in Traffic – 09/10/13
Sacramento Bee – The Council’s Curt Johansen provides a much needed Op-Ed relaying the car-centric approach of the California Environmental Quality Act needs to be revised.
Council Supports Amended SB 731 – 08/26/13
The Council supports the goals of Senate Bill 731 to modernize the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by preserving CEQA’s longstanding role in protecting the environment and providing the public with a voice in decision-making, while addressing the law’s sometimes unintended effect of disproportionately burdening infill projects.
Study to SJ: Build Smaller Homes – 01/24/13
Recordnet – Key findings in a Council of Infill Builders report shows that the Central Valley will grow by three-quarters, while the state averages a one-quarter growth rate.
Two New Research Reports on Housing and Farmland Inform Valley Policymakers – 01/24/13
Groundswell – The American Farmland Trust and Council of Infill Builders released reports ahead of the California Air Resources Board that advocate a policy redirection.
Report: Demand for Infill Development Rising While Support For Sprawl Wanes in Central Valley – 01/24/13
Stockton City Limits – The Council of Infill Builders report outlines key findings for Central Valley including that residents are more in favor of supporting ag land preservation and there are enough large lot single family homes to support demand through 2050.
NRDC: Demand For Infill Housing to Grow – 01/24/13
Housing Alliance of Fresno – A key finding in a report released by the Council of Infill Builders shows that consumer preference data and housing trends indicate the majority of future housing demand will be for apartments, condominiums and townhomes.
Build Smaller Dwellings in San Joaquin Valley, Study Says – 01/23/13
Modesto Bee – The Council of Infill Builders report says to meet housing needs of empty nesters and growing minorities the San Joaquin Valley should adjust the home types it offers.
New Central Valley Housing Study Shows Increasing Demand For City-Centered, Walkable Neighborhoods Near Jobs – 01/23/13
Press Release – The Council of Infill Builders today released a new study of forecasted housing demand in the Central Valley through 2050.
Study: Growing Numbers of Valley Residents Want Walkable Neighborhoods – 01/23/13
Central Valley Business Times – The Central Valley could look very different if a study released by the Council of Infill Builders pans out.
New Report Details Shifting Housing Demand In California’s Central Valley Communities – 01/22/13
NRDC Blog – The Central Valley is estimated to increase its population by 72% by 2050 and the Council of Infill Builders shows in its recent study the Valley can accomodate the growth with infill development.
Joe Minicozzi: Downtown Offers Economic Opportunity for Stockton – 07/18/12
Stockton Journal – Behind those tall historic buildings of Stockton there is a potential economic boon in Stockton.
Merced Mulls New Vision of Downtown – 07/05/12
Merced County Times – A revitalized downtown offers higher property taxes for the City and County according to research by Urban3.
Expert Takes a Look at the Value of Downtown Turlock – 06/29/12
Turlock City News – There is a real importance in investing in the downtown instead of big box stores–the power of investing in the downtown is huge.
Invest in Downtown, Expert Says – 06/26/12
Turlock Journal – Cities tend to chase big sprawling developments when instead they should focus on dense urban environments because they pay off better.
Build Up Downtown To Boost Tax Revenue, Expert Says – 04/20/12
Modesto Bee – County officials have heard plenty of advice of the years about where to build houses, but Joe Minicozzi said to build in the center of the San Joaquin Valley to build up the area’s downtowns.