By Craig Benedetto & Marshall Anderson, Legislative Advocates
MAYOR GLORIA LAYS OUT 2023 OBJECTIVES IN ANNUAL STATE OF THE CITY
Mayor Gloria struck an optimistic tone one year after calling the state of the city “fragile.” While the Mayor admitted that the city still faces many difficult problems, he claimed that broad-based initiatives he has implemented have begun to yield results, particularly around homelessness, infrastructure, affordable housing, and new park development. The Mayor highlighted commitments to address infrastructure repair, housing development, public safety, and homelessness.
- Sidewalk policy reform: The Mayor announced reforms to the city’s sidewalk policy, which requires adjacent property owners to make repairs. Reforms are expected to streamline permitting and reduce fees for residents and businesses wishing to fix broken sidewalks in front of one’s property. Additionally, the city will be establishing a city-managed contract that property owners can tap into to make repairs at a lower cost.
- Street repair: Gloria stated that the city will allocate more dollars to street repair in FY 2024. For reference, 283 miles of streets have been repaired in the current fiscal year.
- Street Preservation Ordinance amendment: The Ordinance, which requires that crews and contractors who excavate in the right of way make complete and timely repairs, is expected to be updated requiring higher quality resurfacing after trenching and tighter time limits for temporary asphalt patches. Major excavation will be redefined to include trenches greater than six inches wide or greater than three feet in depth. Moratoriums on asphalt overlay will shift from five years to three years with slurry seal moving from three years to one. Under the proposal, most trenching and restoration work would need to be completed within 180 days. The street damage fee is also expected to increase.
- Public safety: The Mayor touted pay raises and a first-in-the-nation childcare facility for SDPD officers. While no new measures were announced, the Mayor was stern in declaring that “crime would not rule the day in our city,” and recalled a November executive order that prioritized enforcement around illicit fentanyl. The Mayor did state that he would advocate for fentanyl to be reclassified as a Schedule 1 drug on the federal level.
- Behavioral health: Conservatorship, which can be used to place those who are a danger to self and others in a guardianship program, has been a hot-button issue, politically. The Mayor offered support for statewide bills that would reform California’s conservatorship laws and make it easier for the state to take those with extreme mental illness and substance abuse issues off the street.
- Homelessness: The order to take down tents during the daytime will remain in place. Over 2,800 tons of refuse has been removed during encampment abatements. A new motel has been secured that will serve families experiencing homelessness. A fourth parking lot will be added as a place to stay for those living in their vehicles. The old Central Library, downtown, will be turned into an emergency shelter.
- Tentant protections: The Mayor referenced his recently announced Tenant-Protection Framework, which would provide just cause protections beginning day 1 of tenancy, require additional time for renters to remedy violations, and additional time for seniors and disabled residents to find new housing when receiving a no-fault termination notice.
- Affordable housing production: An executive order was signed directing Development Services to expedite the review and issuance of housing permits. While the order also allows for the hiring of new positions to help address the permitting backlog, officials noted that this new directive would not have an impact on permitting times for other projects.
- Civic Center Redevelopment: The Mayor noted the civic center revitalization efforts remain a priority. Any future development is anticipated to include a new tower for all city employees and thousands of affordable units.
BOMA’s legislative advocates will continue to monitor these items and more throughout the year. You can watch the video or read the full speech, HERE.
2022 LAND DEVELOPMENT CODE UPDATE PASSES 3-1 AT LAND USE & HOUSING COMMITTEE
The City of San Diego’s Land Use & Housing Committee voted 3-1 in favor of a code update package, which is brought forward annually to help maintain the Land Development Code (LDC), simplify the City’s development regulations, and make the code more adaptable. Joe LaCava cast the lone “no” vote saying that a proposal to redefine transit priority areas needs more analysis.
The proposed amendments typically streamline regulatory requirements, reduce constraints, and provide additional incentives to increase the supply of housing. Issue items are separated into five categories; regulatory reforms, compliance with state law, corrections, clarifications, and amendments to align the code with the City’s climate, equity, and housing goals:
Redefinition of Transit Priority Areas (TPA): Staff has come up with a newly defined designation called “Sustainable Development Area” or SDA to replace TPA’s for the purposes of the City’s Complete Communities program. Complete Communities allows for more density in certain areas of the city that are adjacent to transit. The original SDA proposal indicated a significant reduction in net developable acreage. Staff went back and made some adjustments in certain areas of the city to better reflect transit access and, more importantly, increase the acreage available for development. The new map shows a net difference of over 5,000 acres. There are pipeline protections for properties that might no longer be covered for the purposes of the city’s Complete Communities program, but that would require a submitted application before January 1, 2024. BOMA strongly encourages members to check these maps against their properties to ensure their interests are protected. To access the interactive map, please CLICK HERE.
Change in uses allowed in RMX / EMX zone: Staff also, in response to stakeholder input, chose to withdraw the proposal to prohibit self-storage and certain auto-related uses, like sales and repairs, in the EMX and RMX zones. They did continue to include prohibitions on self-storage in areas covered by the Prime Industrial Land (PIL) designation. Staff did note the withdrawn proposal could be considered in next year’s code update package but has said that if it does come back in some form, stakeholders would be included earlier in that process.
To review the code update package from the City’s code update webpage, please click HERE. The code update package will go to full Council for consideration in February.
CITY OF SAN DIEGO CONTRACTOR TRANSPARENCY ORDINANCE NOW IN EFFECT
Effective January 1, 2023, specific projects deemed complete after December 31, 2022, will be required to verify that all contractors and subcontractors working on projects have a current and valid: license with the Contractors State License Board, worker’s compensation insurance, a City Business Tax Certificate, State Tax ID Number, and Federal Tax ID Number. Additionally, applicants are now required to update contractor and subcontractor information for any additions or changes using the online permitting portal before conducting any work. Projects that require verification include: residential and mixed-use development projects of 20 or more dwelling units, commercial and industrial developments that contemplate construction of 20,000 square feet of new gross floor area or developments that propose 20,000 square feet or more of tenant improvements. Prior to its adoption in August, a coalition of groups expressed concern over the impacts and unintended consequences of this new bureaucratic requirement. The city indicated that it would omit Stop Work Orders as an enforcement mechanism for violations. To learn more, click HERE.
FELONIES UP, OVERALL CRIME DOWN ACCORDING TO SANDAG REPORT
A San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) analysis found that arrest rates in San Diego County reached a seven-year low in 2021; however, there was a spike in violent crime and weapons offenses. Arrests related to the latter jumped by 17% among adults and 98% among juveniles, likely due to a proliferation of untraceable ghost guns. Additionally, law enforcement agencies are finding it difficult to attract and retain officers, with SDPD short more than 240 officers. The full report can be found HERE.
NOTICE ANY NEW POTHOLES? REPORT THEM HERE
Additional work crews are being sent out to fix a citywide increase in potholes that followed recent weather events. While there are typically up to nine two-person teams assigned to fix potholes, "dozens of additional teams" will be deployed. BOMA members are encouraged to report potholes by calling: (619) 527-7500 or by using the Get-it-Done app, which can be downloaded HERE.
NEW FEE MULLED FOR PUBLIC RESTROOMS
San Diego electeds are urging state leaders to repeal a nearly 50-year-old ban on pay-to-use bathrooms. According to city officials, San Diego could build and maintain more safe, well-lit bathrooms throughout the downtown area and other pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods by imposing a small fee per user. City officials say it costs around $30,000 per month to operate portable toilets.
HEAVY STORMS DRIVE MOST OF CALIFORNIA OUT OF SEVERE DROUGHT CATEGORY
The state’s historic drought, which has resulted in severe water shortages and conservation requirements, has been substantially reduced in recent weeks due to recent rain and snow. A month ago, more than one-third of the state was in the extreme drought category, the second-highest designation on the drought monitor scale. California is now considered to be in the moderate or severe drought category with some reservoirs returning to “normal” levels.
COUNTY TO HOLD LAST TWO REGIONAL DECARBONIZATION COMMUNITY MEETINGS
The County will be holding its last two in-person community meetings on plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the region. The Decarbonization Framework examines how to reduce carbon emissions through land use, construction and existing buildings, transportation, energy production, and other natural resources, as well as from food systems and resource reuse or recycling. The proposed plan includes new options for adding more rooftop and urban solar, purchasing power from the Imperial Valley, and new energy facilities on hazardous "brownfields." The has held public meetings in each supervisorial district, with districts 2 and 5 slated as follows:
- January 30, 6PM-8PM – District 2
- January 31, 6PM-8PM – District 5
For more information, click HERE.
INDEPENDENT BUDGET ANALYST HIGHLIGHTS POTENTIAL REVENUE SOURCES TO OFFSET BUDGET DEFICIT
The City of San Diego’s Independent Budget Analyst (IBA) has released a report on potential revenue enhancements the City could consider to help close its structural budget deficit. Notwithstanding the passage of Measure B and the potential to create some form of trash collection fee, the city is still projecting deficits for years to come due to rising costs and pension obligations. The IBA’s report indicates a number of increases or new charges could help provide revenue including raising the tourism occupancy tax, increasing the number of parking meters (and raising their price), rental car taxes, or increasing sponsorship and advertising opportunities. In response, City Council President Elo-Rivera indicated they intend to look at any and all options, including those that might require voter approval. The IBA’s report may be found HERE.