CP&DR News Briefs March 15, 2022: Transport & Climate; Expansion of San José BART; High-speed rail costs; and more


State examines impact of transportation spending on climate goals
The Strategic Growth Council (SGC) released the California Transportation Assessment (AB 285 Report), assessing how planning and funding for transportation in California supports common long-term goals, including building and maintaining a system that advances the state’s climate goals and meets transportation needs. needs of Californians. The AB 285 report, authored by researchers at the University of California’s Institute for Transportation Studies, analyzes state and regional transportation plans and institutions, funding allocations to various transportation programs, and funding sources state, regional, and local, as well as the legal frameworks that govern how transportation funds are spent in California. Additionally, the report identifies initial actions that all levels of government and legislators can take to improve the quality, sustainability, and equity of transportation in California.

BART San Jose extension faces delay
The Federal Transit Administration released a 145-page report that suggests the San Jose BART expansion will likely be delayed four years to 2034. Officials have raised concerns about the complexity of the project and the issues of Valley Transit Authority’s time and budget. The report explains why the project could total $9.1 billion, $4.4 billion more than the VTA’s initial projection and $2.2 billion more than its most recent estimate, noting that the VTA acted both “insufficiently” and “illogically”. The FTA’s review of the project acts as part of a federal pilot program to streamline funding for new transit proposals, which resulted in $2.3 billion in funding for the expansion of San Joseph. In response to the FTA report, VTA officials indicated that they would not currently change their estimated cost and schedule.

Expected costs for high-speed rail segments rise again
According to a new environmental report, a Bay Area addition to California’s high-speed rail will cost $19 billion, or 40% more than expected by the High-Speed ​​Rail Authority. The cost is also much higher than what can be made available. The report included the environmental clearance process for a 90-mile segment that would connect Merced County to San Jose. The route would also include a 13.5-mile tunnel, the longest underground rail passage in North America, which crosses an active seismic fault. In 2008, voters approved $9.95 billion to build a high-speed train from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Now the whole project may cost $105 billion. The authority blames rising inflation and high land costs for the extreme price increase.

Climate change report bodes ill for Central Valley
A UC Merced report suggests that the average annual temperature in the San Joaquin Valley could rise by 4 degrees by 2050, putting low-income farming communities with insufficient resources to adapt at high risk in an environment with detrimental water quality, extreme heat and health problems. The report is part of California’s fourth climate change assessment and envisions the worst-case scenario by mid-century for life in the southern Central Valley, where many residents rely financially on agriculture, 55% of the population lives in poverty and water sources are already running out. . The report makes several recommendations to reverse this outcome, primarily relying on clean energy and green space initiatives that would advance environmental justice for area residents.

State Suit targets Inland Empire logistics hub for environmental impacts
Attorney General Rob Bonta and the State of California are challenging a decision that allowed the operation of the $200 million Eastgate Air Cargo Logistics Center, a formative aspect of Amazon’s Air Parcel Network, at the International Airport of San Bernardino, arguing that the decision is inconsistent with current environmental law and affects the health of nearby residents due to emissions from trucks and planes and particulates. The Federal Aviation Administration approved the development in 2019, and a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reapproved the project in 2020, allowing Amazon to perform dozens of flights and hundreds of truck rides a day from by the middle of the decade and generate at least 1 ton of toxic air pollutants that would have a significant impact on low-income communities and communities of color. (See related CP&DR coverage.)

CP&DR Coverage: Pending Land Use Legislation
After a few years of big, controversial housing bills, this year’s land use legislation looks more subtle. Potentially the most significant bill would establish a statewide housing authority that would actually build housing. Other bills would make it easier for cities to convert golf courses into housing and facilitate adaptive reuse. A bill limiting parking requirements is back, as is a bill promoting active transportation. For the full recap, click here.

Quick hits and updates

Governor Newsom signed SB 118, which ensures that student enrollment on a college campus is not considered a project under California’s Environmental Quality Act, while preserving requirements that long-term campus development plans are thoroughly reviewed for environmental impacts. The bill was introduced in response to a recent court order that could have forced UC Berkeley to close the door to thousands of potential freshmen and transfer students, disproportionately affecting students from from underprivileged or underrepresented backgrounds.

Pleasanton officials have rejected a proposed five-story mixed-use building in the city’s downtown area, saying the project failed to meet SB35 and housing density bonus requirements as well as local objective standards and therefore could not receive ministerial approval. The project would have included a 48,000 square foot building with 3,000 square feet of retail space and 37 affordable units near the Pleasanton Public Library.

The City of San Diego and the Padres development team hope to close the escrow by the end of the year now that they have agreed to the $35 million sale and development terms. for the four-block Tailgate Park. The developer has a $1.5 billion plan to build a 1.3-acre community park and 1,800 apartments, 15% of which would be affordable.

Santa Cruz County staff released a 15-page report that imagines the impacts of a June ballot measure introduced by Santa Cruz County Greenway Inc. on county government and a proposed trail along the Branch Rail Line . The measure would change the county’s general plan to make way for two lanes for bikes, a divider and a walkway. The Regional Transport Commission has also presented a “provisional plan” for cyclists and pedestrians.

The Coast Commission unanimously approved a cap on short-term rentals in San Diego after agreeing to a provision that the city reviews new restrictions in seven years. Stewards have warned that restricting short-term rentals could impact access to the coast, so the new policy would need to be reviewed after a substantial period of time with the rule in place.

The Oakland City Council has voted against a sixth expansion of a two-building, 360-unit housing development with affordable, market-priced housing near Lake Merritt on city-owned land, with members saying the land should be used for purely affordable housing. The lot sat empty for six years until a council member started a small welcoming village for the homeless population.

A mid-size concert venue could come to Sacramento after SKK Developments proposed a live music, comedy and events theater that seats 2,300 in the city’s downtown. The development would replace a vacant industrial building, cover approximately 43,000 square feet and accompany a nearby light rail station.


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