Land Use and Planning

Overview

Land Use and Planning

Apartment complex exterior
Article Features By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

As housing challenges reach new heights, cities pave the way for millions of homes

The supply and affordability of housing is one of California’s most persistent, high-profile issues. Cities are actively planning, zoning, and approving millions of new homes, but even in the highest-producing cities, there is still an acute lack of housing. This begs a figurative, and increasingly literal, million-dollar question: Why?

Women on computers
Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Melissa Kuehne

Planning for the future: New land use and housing resources for cities

To help support planning commissioners, their staff, and other officials interested in land use and planning, the Institute for Local Government has updated its flagship Planning Commissioners Handbook and compiled a list of related resources. The update is intended to help local officials understand the planning process and provide a window into future planning challenges on the horizon.

City officials at ribbon cutting
Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Eddie Fenton

Buena Park Navigation Center transforms shipping containers into new possibilities for unhoused residents

The city of Buena Park is no stranger to the nationwide homelessness crisis. A 2019 Orange County Point in Time Count Report found that 6,860 people in the county were experiencing homelessness. However, thanks to a collaborative, regional effort, the city is now part of an effective, cost-efficient solution that looks to permanently break the cycle of homelessness.

Aerial view of affordable apartments
Article Local Works By Anita D. Gutierrez

Pomona’s housing toolbox: A holistic, long-term plan for housing construction

To address its housing shortfall, Pomona has adopted a set of holistic housing and land use policies. The tools help address a range of related issues, including housing, racial inequity, accessibility, and transportation. When used together, they can boost production and ensure that housing is safe, affordable, and supports a higher quality of life.

Man on computer

Irvine’s building and planning portal saves time and trees

As part of an ongoing effort to enhance customer service, the city of Irvine launched a new, streamlined, web-based platform for planning, building, and engineering applications. Launched in 2019, IrvineREADY! is a web-based platform that provides a portal for customers to upload plans and pay fees online using either credit card or electronic check.

Article By Cal Cities Annual Conference and Expo speakers

Tools for California’s housing crisis: Surplus land requirements, sortition, and short-term rental policies

The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated California’s housing crisis, adding even more urgency and complexity to an already dire situation. Land availability and housing affordability continue to dominate local policy discussions, while at the same time city leaders grapple with the best way to implement regulations for the growing short-term rental industry. Moreover, all of these decisions require significant public input. During the League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo, hear from city leaders and industry experts about ways in which cities throughout the state can tackle the myriad of housing issues facing their communities.

Article By Cal Cities Annual Conference and Expo speakers

New challenges, new solutions: How city leaders are creating safer communities

Keeping families and communities safe is one of the primary functions of city government. The last few years have brought new challenges, such as a sharp increase in cybercrimes, a lack of dedicated resources for critical issues, and recent legislative changes that require new ways of approaching old problems. Here are three ways city leaders and industry experts are increasing public safety in California’s cities.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President and El Centro Mayor Cheryl Viegas Walker

Cal Cities delivers on local control, funding, and resources for cities

The decisions that we make every day as city leaders, especially housing and land use decisions, cannot be made in a vacuum. All city services and programs must be viewed through a lens of equity, and this new Advancing Equity Advisory Committee will play an integral role in identifying how cities can recognize and eliminate disparities in our systems.

Exterior view of Sacramento fourplex.
Article News from the Institute for the Local Government by Karalee Browne

Beyond the short term: Land use principles to advance fair housing goals

Over the past year, cities have implemented a variety of programs to help keep vulnerable populations housed, but cities need to look beyond short-term relief. Local planning and policy decisions present some unique opportunities to remedy longstanding inequities, specifically through the housing element update process and activities related to AB 686.

Exterior view of St. Paul’s Commons in Walnut Creek, CA.
Article Local Works by Jill Oviatt

A community partnership brings a transformative affordable housing development to Walnut Creek

A dynamic group of committed religious, community, housing, and local government leaders in Walnut Creek came together to solve one of our state’s most pressing problems: the need for more affordable housing. Working together they created St. Paul’s Commons, a mixed-use, transit-oriented affordable housing development that opened its doors to residents in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit.

Exterior view of El Centro "tiny home."
Article Features by Lisa Yarbrough

Tiny homes in El Centro provide housing for former foster youth attending the local college

El Centro was one of the first recipients of funding under Homekey, a statewide program designed to house those experiencing homelessness. Through a partnership between the city and a local college, the funding was leveraged to construct 26 tiny homes that will provide two years of permanent housing for college students who are former foster youths and are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.

Courson Arts interior of art gallery.

Palmdale’s latest housing innovation: the Courson Arts Colony

In recent years, the city of Palmdale saw housing costs outpace the area’s income levels, resulting in a shortage of affordable housing in the area. The Courson Arts Colony, the latest component of Palmdale’s city center revitalization and housing innovation, provides affordable housing and incorporates an arts component to serve as a healing element for veterans who may be suffering from PTSD.

Alisal Vibrancy Plan Addresses Equity Issues in Salinas

This plan is the result of advocacy and a collaborative process with city staff, community-based organizations, and residents that increased public engagement, public dialogue, and trust and brought new leadership into planning processes.

Article Legal Notes by Valerie Escalante Troesh and Matthew R. Silver

SB 450: A Path Toward Improving Communities

By waiving environmental review for qualifying projects and incentivizing investments, SB 450 may aid cities’ efforts to combat homelessness.

Article Features

Tips on Temporary Use of Public Property for Private Business

What cities should know about accommodating businesses in public spaces.

Article Features by Stephanie Hunting and Liz Moody

From Vision to Reality: Lessons Learned in Complete Street Implementation

These projects can be challenging, but they improve traffic and support healthy lifestyles.

Article Features by Curtis Wright

Code Enforcement During a Pandemic: Lessons Learned

Many cities have employed code enforcement staff in unique ways to protect the public and advance pandemic protocols.

Article Local Works

Affordable Housing: More Than a Mandate in San Marcos
How San Marcos Leveraged Affordable Housing for Smart Growth

In an area that lacked basic infrastructure, two mixed-use affordable housing developments brought improvements including new streets, drainage, and lighting. A complex mix of federal, state, and city funding, matched with private-sector loans, covered the costs.

Article Features by Jill Oviatt

Redwood City’s Quest to Bring Back Missing Middle Housing

Reducing the minimum lot size for duplexes and triplexes and revising current open-space requirements are among the city’s proposed zoning updates.

Article Features by Daniel Parolek and Tony Perez

How to Ensure That Missing Middle Housing Is Not Missing From Your City’s Policy, Planning, and Zoning

“Missing middle” housing helps to address the growing demand for walkable communities, respond to shifting household demographics, and meet the need for more housing choices.