Having invested a billion and a half dollars of public funds in downtown redevelopment, it is worth asking if it helped or hindered in solving the affordable housing crisis that San Diego faces. From the catalytic start of downtown’s boom with the construction of the ballpark to the unceremonious demise of tax increment financing under Governor Brown, there has been a lot of change. [Read more…] about How San Diego’s downtown housing supply boom is making rent less affordable
Nearly a third of all counties in California are proposing a sales tax increase to fund transportation on this November’s ballot. But one stands out with organized opposition from an unprecedented coalition of labor, environmental and community groups. It is perhaps the only transportation measure where both political parties, and the main newspaper opposes it. [Read more…] about Measure A: How SANDAG undermines transit, environmental, and social goals.
Governor Jerry Brown’s “Streamlining Affordable Housing Approvals” proposal will have far-reaching consequences on urban planning in cities and counties across California. However, there has been little discussion about the real-world consequences of this policy on the planning profession with regard to public participation. [Read more…] about Why Gov. Brown’s housing plan is bad for planning
Over 120 cities and counties in California have a climate action plan either completed or in the pipeline. As cities develop these plans and initiatives to address climate change, it is important to emphasize that social equity is integrated within environmental policies. The vulnerabilities, resilience and sustainability of the human ecosystem are as much determined by diversity and inter-dependence as its natural counterpart. As Pope Francis said in Laudato Sí, “a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” [Read more…] about Why climate change action cannot succeed without social equity
With rising inequality, a looming climate change crisis, and persistent state of housing unaffordability being the defining issues in the growth of American cities in the twenty-first century, it is time for urban planners to take social policy seriously. Too often, social policy is relegated to a specialized role for advocacy planners, at other times ignored completely for being too political, and often times dismissed as “creeping socialism” that is inappropriate in land-use planning. This prompted planning legend Norman Krumholtz to call the profession “timid,” not as much to reflect on the work ethics of rank-and-file planners, but the leadership of those in power, who do not allow planning to pursue equity objectives. The most powerful piece on the planning chess-board is unavailable to most urban planners. [Read more…] about Urban planning without social equity is like playing chess without the queen.
“Downtown is for people” wrote legendary urban planner Jane Jacobs in 1958, in response to building-centric redevelopment that was a byproduct of politics and economics seeking to rebuild cities across America. During her lifetime, she advocated for citizens to decide what end results they wanted, pioneering concepts like “social capital,” and advocating for planners to steer the rebuilding machinery to serve the community.
Yet, even today, downtown San Diego is being built as a collection of projects, with an approval process that consistently favors developers. [Read more…] about California lawmakers seek local oversight of downtown planning
As the economy improves, California’s affordable housing crisis is worsening. The average rent in California ($1,240) is almost fifty percent higher than the national average. This is pricing out our state’s low-wage blue collar workers, who have flat incomes and rising commutes. It would take a service worker in San Jose 20 years to save up enough to buy a home. [Read more…] about How to fix California’s Housing Affordability Crisis
There is a building boom across California, but many communities have been historically left behind. Property tax increment has served as a planning and investment tool to provide public benefits such as affordable housing, good jobs and neighborhood amenities. However, with the end of redevelopment, cash-poor cities across California are exploring innovative strategies to fund public benefits. One such strategy is to partner with developers for community benefits in exchange for planning and development rights. [Read more…] about How Communities can Benefit from Private Development in California