The Latest News

March | 2023

Federal News

EPA Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Guidelines Released

Jacqueline Woo, Senior Associate

In February, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released guidance for $27B in Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds (GHGRF), a program authorized through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). These funds aim to speed up the deployment of zero-emission and decarbonization technologies, including residential and community solar, storage technologies, and energy efficiency upgrades, specifically focusing on ensuring that low-income and disadvantaged communities benefit from such funding. Notices of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) are anticipated to be released in early Summer of this year. Read more>>

State News

Dozens of Housing Bills Introduced by the Bill Deadline

Natalie Donlin-Zappella, Principal

Facing a February 17th deadline for the introduction of bills this session, lawmakers unveiled dozens of bills that respond to the State’s housing and homelessness challenges. LeSar Development Consultants will highlight key bills in upcoming newsletters as well as inform our readers about actions taken as the bills move through the legislative process.

One bill that will receive a lot of attention this year is Senate Bill 423 (Weiner, San Francisco), which would amend and make permanent Senate Bill 35 (2017), a bill that required fast-tracking of housing developments in jurisdictions that had not met their Regional Housing Need Assessment (RHNA) goals as long as the developments met specified affordability targets. According to a Terner Center for Housing Innovation report, SB 35 has resulted in the approval of nearly 12,000 new homes. Read more>>

"Builder’s Remedy" Becomes a Reality for Many Jurisdictions

Farzad Mashhood, Senior Associate

The Bay Area’s 101 cities and nine counties had until January 31, 2023, to adopt legally-compliant Housing Elements and receive certification from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) or be subject to what is known as the Builders Remedy. As of mid-February, only four Bay Area cities had received HCD sign-off on their Housing Elements. Southern California communities are also subject to the law and had an October 21, 2021, deadline for Housing Element approval, yet many remain out of compliance nearly 18 months later. Read more>>

Ballot Measure to Block New Taxes Qualifies for the November 2024 Ballot

Natalie Donlin-Zappella, Principal

A ballot measure that would increase the voter threshold on some taxes and fees has qualified for the November 2024 ballot. Backed by the California Business Roundtable, Kilroy Realty, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, among others, the measure - The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act - would require that all new taxes passed by State leaders appear on the California ballot for voter approval. Read more>>

Lawsuit Targets Los Angeles’ Measure ULA

Chul Gugich, Principal

In addition to facing a ballot measure challenge, Measure ULA has been targeted with a lawsuit that attempts to block its implementation. The Howard Jarvis Association and the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles filed a lawsuit in December, claiming that the Measure violates State and local tax law because it is a special tax designated for a special purpose. Measure ULA is expected to go into effect on April 1, 2023. 

Measure ULA supporters, including SCAHPH, the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Association (KIWA), and Service Employees International United (SEIU) Local 2015, in addition to other original backers of the Measure, have joined as defendants to the lawsuit. They argue that the California Supreme Court had already ruled that citizens have the right to place measures on the ballot and that four recent cases before the Court of Appeals agreed that cities cannot limit the initiative power of their residents to place special tax measures on the ballot. To date, no court hearing has been scheduled.

Transitioning to All-Electric New Building in LA City

Jacqueline Woo, Senior Associate

Residential and commercial buildings are responsible for roughly 25% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, and funding such as the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund can potentially support affordable housing developers in addressing the twin goals of climate and housing. On June 1, 2023, all new affordable housing projects proposed in the City of Los Angeles will be required to be all-electric. Read more>>


New United Way Report on Homelessness

United Way of the National Capital Area, which works in the Washington D.C. area, released a report on January 25, 2023 - Vacant Homes Vs. Homelessness in Cities Around the U.S. - which used data from the U.S. Census and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to compare homeless rates and the number of vacant housing units in 100 of the nation’s largest cities. The report includes data from eight California cities—Fresno, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Stockton. Specific California findings included:

  • San Jose has the highest population of transition-aged youth (18-24) in the nation, with nearly 85 unhoused TAY youth per 100,000 residents
  • With the exception of New York City, Los Angeles has the largest number of families experiencing homelessness at 3,907
  • There are 4-5 vacant homes per unhoused resident in Oakland

The NHP Foundation Releases Report Making Findings on Affordable Housing Messaging

The NHP Foundation released an industry report in February entitled Battling Hypocrisy to Build Popular Support for Affordable Housing, which dived into what people hear when they hear the words “affordable housing” and how the housing industry can refine its messaging in response. According to the report “we’ve learned that when we say affordable housing, we hear opportunity and advantages for all; when others hear affordable housing, they hear barriers, obstacles, or illusions.”

Given news reports, it's not a surprise that places that were traditionally thought to be liberal or progressive - think Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, and Berkeley - have a fair share of residents who support the idea of building housing but adamantly oppose placing the housing in their neighborhood. The NPH study found that less than half (44%) of those surveyed reported feeling “comfortable” about new affordable homes in their community. 

The report suggests a number of actions that can be taken to help these neighbors become more accepting, including providing tours of existing affordable housing development, highlighting stories of formerly homeless residents who are now living in the community successfully, showing people the human side of homelessness by directly connecting community members to people with lived experience, and by using messaging that humanizes those being served rather than relying on the use of statistics and facts.

Legislative Analyst Office Reports on Housing and Homelessness

On February 6th, the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee held a hearing on Housing and Homelessness to dig into the state of homelessness and the affordable housing shortage. In advance of the hearing, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released a report that provided data to frame the committee members’ conversation. None of the information included in the report is a surprise, with data showing California housing costs far higher than the national average and the State’s homeless numbers at an all-time high. The report includes helpful charts and information about both the housing and homelessness crisis, including data from the new Homelessness Data Integration System, which went on line in 2021. This is just the first of several anticipated hearings, including a joint hearing of the Senate Housing and the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committees on February 28th.

Terner Center Report on ADUs in San Diego 

Another report from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation - San Diego’s Success in Spurring Missing Middle Housing: The Accessory Dwelling Unit Bonus Program - looks at initial results of an effort to provide incentives for ADU development that is deed-restricted for lower and moderate-income families. According to the report, San Diego was the first city in the nation to offer a density incentive, enabling homeowners to exceed the State law requirements by allowing them to build more ADUs than permitted on their land in exchange for income restrictions. By law, homeowners can build one detached ADU and one junior ADU (a second unit within the main structure) on their lot by right. The report highlights the program incentives and the benefits it has had in helping the City address its RHNA numbers and provide new opportunities for more small-scale homebuilders.

So far, the program has made possible the construction of 548 new homes, with nearly 300 deed-restricted ADUs under development during the first two years of the program, a huge jump from the prior two years when only seven homes were underway. 


Could this Inflatable Factory Reinvent Construction? | Fast Company, January 23, 2023

Social Housing is on the Seattle Ballot, But What is It? | The Seattle Times, February 3, 2021 

Governor Newsom Says Environmental Law Needs to be Modernized to Increase Housing | KQED Podcast, February 3, 2023 

Gentrification by Fire. The West’s New Climate is Exacerbating Housing Inequality in the Quintessentially Blue State of California | The Washington Post, February 10, 2023

Why a California Housing Lawsuit is About More than Income Discrimination | Cal Matters, February 7, 2023

The Fastest-Growing Homeless Population? Seniors | Cal Matters, February 10, 2023

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The Affordable Housing Analyst on the Housing Team will help strategize, create, and execute client-focused scopes of work primarily focused on affordable housing development, finance, and feasibility. 

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