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California Planning Question

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
My daughter is concerned about a CA city that is allowing development at 4x General Plan densities near her house (160 units per acre vs 40 max in the General Plan) using the state density bonus law as the way to exceed density.

Here's the basic scenario.

The project has 20% low income housing, so it qualifies for density bonus.

The density bonus is allowed "until the project becomes economically feasible" per the state inclusinary housing law.

The city waives all other zoning standards to get to that "feasibility" calculation. (density, height, coverage, parking).

The projects are given categorical exemptions as "infill."

Do any California planners see a legal fallacy in this approach. The city has been approving these developments right an left, and the staff is taking the developer's side against the neighbors (sort of like the FCC). I can't find the "hook" that says the approach is, in fact, illegal.

Any suggestions. I am looking for factual statements in law which would argue with certainty that the excessive density is illegal.

Thanks
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Well, this does sound on the surface "legal." Its a pretty aggressive interpretation of the law, though, and one we would never take this far.

I hope your sister doesn't live in Berkeley, where some homeowners claim that a city of 120,000 in the middle of a seven million person metropplitan region is a "small town" and that ugly 1960s commercial strips should be "preserved" rather than allowing for redevelopment with higher density (and more attractive) mixed use in a city with a housing shortage. :)
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
My daughter might hypothetically live in Berkeley.

She would like to see the Calthorpe-designed plan for University Avenue implemented, which would be 50 units per acre with density bonuses. That:s not quite the NIMBY-ness of the Berkeley hill people.

The Calthorpe plan has decent density, an excellent urban design element, and a program which will result in commercial viability and livability for future residents. The project as proposed is at 160 plus units per acre, has unworkable retail and housing with no amenities or parking. It:s pretty much a warehouse for students.

The Calthorpe plan would distribute the density up and down the Avenue - a pretty workable scheme.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
I didn't mean to be so snarky. :)

Not sure why I care anyway, don't live in Berkeley. :) But, I really like the town (even its wackier elements) and feel more at home there. In a world where 1100 square foot bungalows in a decent part of town don't cost $450,000, Berkeley is probably where I would live.

I like their attempts to urbanize what were frankly somewhat decrepit commercial corridors-something that I would love to see my workplace do but is 20 years away at best (on that scale).

And, I would certainly agree that not all of their recent projects built have been successful during the current "depression" here. Much of the commercial space DOES assume the good old days are still dominant-a lot of very small "shoppe" space that may be absorbed eventually, but is certainly vacant now. And, even vacant, its a big improvement over what was there in the recent past.

I don't consider Patrick Kennedy the Prince of Darkness because he wants his projects to make some profit. That 160 du/acre project does seem unusually dense from what I have observed in Berkeley.
 
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