Clarity Blog

Clarity Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Development’

Prop 26 – A New Way To Stop Projects?

Given how deft Sacramento is at hiding taxes as fees in order to avoid the mandatory two-thirds vote for taxes, who didn’t vote for Prop 26, so fees will also be subject to a two-thirds vote?  Well, actually 4.3 million Californians didn’t, by current count. Fortunately for wallet-watchers, 4.7 million voted yes.

But California is nothing if not the Land of Unintended Consequences.  Now it looks like Prop 26 could be a nifty new way for state regulatory boards like the California Coastal Commission or a Regional Water Quality Control Board, which are subject to its provisions, to delay new development projects.

Development fees are not subject to Prop 26, so if a new project is dinged a nice little bucket of cash to improve signals at some intersections it’s impacting, no special vote  is required.  That’s fine – the authors of the California Chamber-sponsored proposition anticipated that, and wrote the measure to protect developers.

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Land Weekly 3: Friendlier or Snippier Times Ahead?

What were the three biggest California water stories of the past seven days?  Well, the news-heads and policy wonks here at Laer Pearce & Associates have compiled them for you here.  You’ll find the Big Three here every Thursday, or you can follow LPALand on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and analysis. You can also sign up to receive the Weekly 3 via email here.  This week:

Friendlier Feds, Snippier State Regulators?

According to political insiders – and pretty much anybody who’s ever dealt with an appointed regulatory body – having more Republicans in office generally is good news for permit-seekers in the housing industry.  So the outcome of last week’s election should bring some hopey, changey prospects in the short-term nationwide, as the GOP takes over key committee posts in the House and a slew of new Republican governors take office.  Here in California, it’s a whole different story.  Tuesday meant at least four more years of Jerry Brown, whose agenda will be topped, said CalWatchdog’s Steven Greenhut at a recent luncheon, by environmental issues and slowing (or stopping!) new development.  That’s not exactly change we can believe in.

Read the Real Estate Channel‘s take on the GOP win

Read MSNBC’s take

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Local Land-Use Matters Split November Ballot

The San Diego Union Tribune identified 17 key local land-use matters before California voters on Tuesday.  After all the votes were cast, nine resulted in positive news for the building industry, while eight weren’t so great.  See the rundown below.

Merced County Measure C: Voter Confirmation of Zoning Changes - Failed

Considered a slow growth initiative and known originally as the “Save Farmland Initiative,” Measure C would amend the county’s general plan to require voter approval whenever ten or more acres would be converted from agricultural or open space to residential use.

Yes 43.84%

No 56.16%

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The Weekly 3 Land: Red tape and NIMBYs galore

What were the three biggest California land development stories of the past seven days?  Well, the news-heads and policy wonks here at Laer Pearce & Associates have compiled them for you here.  You’ll find the Big Three here, or you can follow LPALand on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and analysis. You can also sign up to receive the Weekly 3 via email here. This week:

Red Tape…Fuggedaboudit

It’s a rare day when California can learn something from the state of New Jersey.  We’ll take the California shore over Jersey’s version any day, but Californians should be paying attention to what New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is up to.  The state’s newly elected leader is proposing the merger or elimination of nearly 300 boards and commissions – including many inactive or defunct groups created years ago, and some that have never met at all.  Sacramento, are you listening?

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The Weekly 3: Land Development

August 9, 2010

What are the three biggest stories each week in the world of California land development?  You’ll find them right here each Monday, or follow LP&A all week long on Twitter at @LPALand for up-to-the-minute news and analysis.  This week:

1. Will the Drought Contingency Plan squeeze future land uses?

The California Department of Water Resources didn’t go so far as to blame your picket-fenced bit of the ‘burbs for causing the state’s ongoing water crisis, but it is looking at limiting future land uses as part of the solution.  According to its newly released Drought Contingency Plan, “development intensity has a direct relationship to water supply,” and since the state’s thirst for water outstrips available resources, that means builders best prepare for more regulation and limits on what they can do with their property.

>> Read the Full Report

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The Weekly 3: Land Development

August 2, 2010

What are the three biggest stories each week in the world of California land development?  You’ll find them right here each Monday, or follow LP&A all week long on Twitter at @LPALand for up-to-the-minute news and analysis.  This week:

What could you do with this raw land?

1. Builders beginning to buy raw land with eye on market turnaround.

Standard Pacific CEO Ken Campbell made the news recently when he predicted a 2014 housing comeback and said he’s buying raw land in a big way.  That’s a sure sign the supply of already-approved lots is drying up … and it also means there will be a new wave of activism from the environmentalist/NIMBY cabal.  New legislation and policy have prioritized infill development and attempted to make greenfield development neighborhood non grata in California.  That will make entitlement a challenge … but one with great potential financial upsides for those who purchase wisely.

>> Read More

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The Weekly 3: Land Development

What are the three biggest stories each week in the world of California land development?  You’ll find them right here each Monday, or follow LP&A all week long on Twitter at @LPALand for up-to-the-minute news and analysis.  This week:

1. Is Developing Alameda Point worth the hassle?

Alameda Point - What Could Have Been

The city of Alameda voted last week to terminate an exclusive negotiating agreement with SunCal for development of the city’s former Navy base, which closed 15 years ago.  SunCal invested nearly $15 million during its four-year process, but was stymied by ever-changing political winds, a city staff with personal agendas and a public that’s not happy without a fight on its hands.  SunCal came on board in 2006 after a partnership of Shea and Catellus got fed up and walked away, which begs the question:  Is developing Alameda Point worth the hassle?  >>Read More

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Quantifying Your Economic Message – Full Version

As featured by the Orange County chapter of the Building Industry Association

Jobs, jobs, jobs – It’s a winning message for developers and builders right now. We are seeing this message resonate with all of the industry’s key target audiences more than ever, from decision-makers and city staffs to the general public and media. But how can you emphasize jobs when a full economic impact analysis isn’t part of your budget?

Enter the Center for Strategic Economic Research – or CSER.

The Center’s study on the economic “ripple effect” of homebuilding is quantitative confirmation of what we’ve always known: New homes mean more jobs.

Specifically:

  • Every home built creates 2.4 jobs
  • For every $1 spent building a home, $0.9 is generated 
  • Each home generates more than $360,000 in economic activity, excluding the selling price

These are terrific metrics. They are also being used by builders across the state as confirmation of their project’s economic benefit. In fact, the CSER’s Deputy Director, Helen Schaubmayer recently told us that the study could be an immensely valuable tool for builders.

“As a result of this study being updated and published for several years, we are seeing builders leverage jobs-creation messages that they were previously unable to quantify. But builders also need to realize how to package and present these findings to the right audience. If they do, it could go a long way.”

We agree. Even the best jobs message can get cluttered with industry jargon. And having clarity to your message – especially one as important as jobs – is critical to a successful project.

Take a moment to review the study. We’ve also been told by the research director that a 2010 study is in the works and may be available this summer, so we’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Furry Vengeance: Anti-Growth Activism with a Side of Chocolate Milk

A new, kid-friendly comedy, Furry Vengeance, hits theaters April 30, chronicling a cast of loveable critters as they conspire to make the life of a developer (played with maximum evil buffoonery by Brendan Fraser) a living hell.  But don’t take it from me, here’s how this lovely bit of slam-the-developer is being marketed:

This hilarious film depicts the inventive and clever ways forest animals fight back against thoughtless humans whose development plans encroach on their habitat.

Of course the story line doesn’t mention EIRs, open space dedications with management endowments in perpetuity, or any of that boring stuff.  Instead, it’s another piece from the same folks that brought us An Inconvenient Truth, targeting our kids with an eco-activism message. The movie’s marketing plans include a “Social Action Network” complete with materials and games to teach kids how to vilify development.  No, really.  Its goal is to “educate and engage future environmentalists” and to help kids – your kids – “develop skills and deeper knowledge of habitat and animal protection issues.”

Here at LP&A, we happen to think habitat and animal protection is a stellar idea.  We’ve been involved in the approvals of new communities whose developers have set aside a combined 350 square miles of protected open space – more by far than the producers of Furry Vengeance have protected, we’ll wager.  We just don’t like it when one-sided messages go straight from Hollywood to the next generation, complete with suggested school curricula and Furry Vengeance stuffed animals and lunch boxes.

Kids are Key

While we disagree with their one-sided, anti-development message, the Earth Goddess evangelists of Furry Vengeance got one thing right: Young kids are a powerful audience that shouldn’t be overlooked.  Reaching out to them can spread goodwill, combat rumors, and have a surprisingly positive impact on your approval process.  The alternative is to let a talking squirrel from Hollywood get the last word on your well-balanced proposed project.

An Unhealthy Development

City planners in the Bay Area city of Richmond are putting the finishing touches on the town’s new general plan and hope to include a first-in-the-nation “wellness element” in the document, which will guide how new development is processed.  Writes HealthyCal.org:

The new rules would require builders to show that residents have adequate access to healthy foods, medical services, public transit, affordable housing, recreation and open space, economic opportunity, safe neighborhoods, and environmentally sound, sustainable buildings.

Excuse us, but isn’t it the free market’s responsibility to provide residents with services like groceries (healthy or not), doctors and jobs? Isn’t it Richmond’s responsibility to make sure neighborhoods are safe? Aren’t homebuyers still free to choose whether to pay more for a recreation-rich neighborhood or less for one that’s not so well equipped? And ditto for the added price for “environmentally sound, sustainable buildings?” Whatever that means.

Richmond city planners need to realize that starry-eyed idealism comes at a cost.  Unless it dies a welcome death, the “wellness element” of Richmond’s draft general plan will not make Richmond’s economy any healthier. It will make the city less attractive to developers, who are likely to take their business – and the revenue new development generates for cities – elsewhere.