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TODAY'S NEWS

 

January 23, 2012

TODAY'S NEWS

HOUSING DEVELOPMENT

INSIDE BAY AREA: Project to revitalize Bay Point stalled indefinitely without redevelopment

By Sean Maher [1/22/12] // A demolished plot of Bay Point land neighbors say is an ugly magnet for transients will likely have to sit fallow while county officials sort through the rubble of Contra Costa's dissolving redevelopment agency. The Orbisonia Heights project proposes to build a hybrid of transit-adjacent housing and retail space on about 8 acres sitting between Ambrose Park and the Safeway shopping center on Bailey Road, just to the east of Highway 4. The Pittsburg/Bay Point BART station sits just about a quarter mile…

 

LAND USE / PLANNING / REGULATION

PALO ALTO ONLINE: Palo Alto braces for battle against housing mandates

By Gennady Sheyner // If one believes regional projections, Palo Alto will have to build 12,500 new homes by 2035 to accommodate job growth and meet California's ambitious green goals. Count the City Council among the skeptics. Over the past two years, city officials have been pushing back against the planning scenarios put forth by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the agencies charged with implementing in the Bay Area the state's landmark greenhouse-gas-reduction law, Senate Bill 375. …

 

SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE: La Verne council begins process of eliminating its redevelopment agency

By Wes Woods II // LA VERNE - The City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved the city's intent to close down its redevelopment agency.  City Manager Bob Russi said La Verne would lose about $4 million in its first year and about $2 million in following years. Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills last year to eliminate redevelopment agencies unless cities or counties agreed to pay a set fee this year and then a regular amount in subsequent years. …

 

MURRIETA PATCH: City Hopes to Protect Redevelopment Projects

By Maggie Avants // With local redevelopment agencies struck down by the California Supreme Court in late December, the Murrieta City Council moved last week to dismantle its own. City Council voted unanimously to transfer more than $26 million in Murrieta Redevelopment Agency assets and obligations to a successor agency dubbed the Murrieta Housing Authority. … The assets to be transferred include $11.1 million in tax increment funding and $15.2 million in bond funding for projects.

 

SANTA ROSA PRESS DEMOCRAT: Santa Rosa redevelopment agency to write its will Monday

By Kevin McCallum // …Beginning at 1:30 p.m., the housing authority will meet to decide whether to become the “successor agency” for the housing functions performed by the redevelopment agency. After that, the five-member redevelopment agency board will review plans to transfer the agency's two main real estate assets – the former AT&T building and Railroad Square property leased to the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel & Spa.

 

HOUSING MARKETS / REAL ESTATE

DATAQUICK NEWS: California December Home Sales

News Release: [1/19/12] // An estimated 37,734 new and resale houses and condos were sold statewide last month. That was up 15.5 percent from 32,669 in November, and up 4.2 percent from 36,215 for December 2010. California sales for the month of December have varied from a low of 25,585 in 2007 to a high of 66,503 in 2003, while the average is 44,063. …

 

MORTGAGE & FORECLOSURE ISSUES

CNN MONEY.COM: Foreclosures: America's hardest hit neighborhoods

By Les Christie // NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The housing collapse has dramatically changed the nation's foreclosure landscape. Neighborhoods boasting modern homes, cul-de-sacs and tree-lined streets in and around Western cities now dominate the list of the top 100 U.S. zip codes hit hardest by foreclosures and claim and comprise all of the top 10 spots, according to data generated for CNNMoney by RealtyTrac. In 2011, Western states claimed 82 of the 100 worst hit zip codes with 38 in California …

 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac revise policies on mortgage forbearance

By Kenneth R. Harney [1/22/12] // If you have lost a job and are in danger of falling behind on mortgage payments, here's some potentially important news: The two largest players in mortgages, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are revising their policies on forbearance when unemployment interferes with the ability to stay current on a home loan. … Forbearance, it should be noted, does not mean a forgiveness or reduction of the principal balance on the mortgage. Think of it instead as a timeout. Whatever amounts go uncollected during the forbearance period must eventually be repaid.

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

EUREKA TIMES-STANDARD: Three Humboldt County programs receive Federal Emergency Shelter Grants

Three Humboldt County homeless assistance programs will receive more than $340,000 this year to provide shelter and services to adults, children and families without regular housing. The one-year awards are part of $6.6 million in grants from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). HCD's Federal Emergency Shelter Grants (FESG) were recently awarded to 62 nonprofit programs and local governments in California for emergency shelter, transitional housing programs and shelter for victims of domestic violence. …

 

HOMELESSNESS

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Plazas and parklets the latest battleground in homeless war

Posted by Heather Knight // All those new plazas and “parklets” across the city may seem downright adorable, but they’re the unlikely new hotspot in the never-ending battle over the city’s homeless policy. … The idea was to set some guidelines for the plazas which are in a sort of no-man’s land because they’re not technically parks, streets or sidewalks, all of which are governed by different city codes.

 

INFRASTRUCTURE / BONDS

SACRAMENTO BEE: Gov. Jerry Brown once again seeks to sell Californians on big projects

By David Siders [1/22/12] // …Brown is expected by summer to propose a peripheral canal or another way to move water through or around the Delta, a project he said will cost water users "well over $10 billion." He persuaded the Legislature when he was governor before to approve such a canal, but it was defeated in a referendum in 1982. Three years earlier, in his State of the State address, Brown had called the project "an investment in the future," a refrain he repeated this week, more than 30 years later.

 

EMPLOYMENT / ECONOMY

THE DESERT SUN: California unemployment rate drops to 11.1 percent

(AP) // Buoyed by seasonal hiring, California’s unemployment rate dipped slightly in December to 11.1 percent, down two-tenths of a percent from the previous month. Non-farm payroll jobs increased by 10,700 last month for a total gain of 240,300 jobs in 2011. Officials at the Employment Development Department said Friday’s report shows California is continuing a gradual economic improvement. …

 

TRANSPORTATION / TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT

SAN JOSE MERCURY: Car-sharing networks flourish in Bay Area

By Dana Hull // Donnie Fowler owns a 2006 Saab that's fully paid for, but he almost never drives it. A self-employed consultant who lives in San Francisco, he often works from home and takes public transportation to most of his meetings. But his car does not sit idle -- it's out on the streets earning money. … The car-sharing services vary in prices and policies -- PATS requires drivers to be at least 21 -- but all were founded on the same realization: Most cars sit unused much of the time and many two-car families don't need both vehicles on the weekends.

 

REDEVELOPMENT / INFILL / REVITALIZATION

FRESNO BEE: Friant got little for $1 Million in redevelopment

By Kurtis Alexander // FRIANT -- This foothill community with its old houses, sleepy shops and vintage diner hasn't seen much change over the decades, beyond a wider road through town and a new gas station. And major change isn't likely to come soon. The little-known redevelopment agency set up by Fresno County 20 years ago to help modernize the small town is being shut down, in part because of state law and in part because of its failure. …

 

DAILY PILOT: Community Commentary: Ending redevelopment has devastating consequences

By Patricia Whitaker [1/21/12] // In an effort to balance the state budget, the California Supreme Court voted at the end of December to eliminate redevelopment agencies across the state effective Jan. 31. It further struck down a separate law that would have allowed agencies to stay afloat if they paid more than $1 billion to the state. The decision has understandably caused a reverberation of panic from proponents desperate to find an amicable way to salvage redevelopment in some form …

 

NATIONAL HOUSING-RELATED NEWS

WASHINGTON POST: $25B deal with banks over deceptive foreclosure practices sent to AGs as settlement nears

(AP) // WASHINGTON — The nation’s five largest mortgage lenders have agreed to overhaul their industry after deceptive foreclosure practices drove homeowners out of their homes, government officials said Monday. A draft settlement between the banks and U.S. states has been sent to state officials for review. …

 

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY SUN: Home sales up at end of dismal year, offering hope

By Derek Kravitz [1/20/12] // WASHINGTON - Home sales in December reached their highest pace in nearly a year. The gain coincided with other signs that the troubled housing market improved at the end of last year. Analysts cautioned that sales remain historically low and that it will take years for the home market to return to full health. Still, the third straight monthly sales increase was encouraging. And economists noted that conditions are in place for further gains this year. …

 

ENVIRONMENT / CLIMATE CHANGE

CENTRAL VALLEY BUSINESS TIMES: Court tosses San Joaquin Valley air pollution control plan

San Francisco 1/20/12 // A federal appeals court has shot down the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of an air pollution cleanup plan for the San Joaquin Valley. “We should not silently rubber stamp agency action that is arbitrary and capricious in its reliance on old data without meaningful comment on the significance of more current compiled data,” says the decision Friday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. …

 

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