California Agrihoods

California Agrihoods

Original Blog by Jesamine D.

When people think of California, some often think of celebrities, hipsters, Hollywood, the beach, the traffic and all the vegan yoga teachers that fill the city. While many of these stereotypes may be true, California serves as one of the leading environmentally-friendly states in the nation. A prime example is the rise of local Agrihoods.

Farm to Table Freshness

Though California has a green thumb, the state is taking another step up. To accommodate the housing crisis, as well as serve the environment, developers have established agricultural neighborhoods, or “Agrihoods.” These communities bring together farmland and housing, allowing residents to achieve farm fresh food just steps away from their home.

Luxurious Walden Monterey

A new, luxury Agrihood community called Walden Monterey hopes to attract nearby Silicon Valley residents. Each home in this 22 lot Agrihood will cost around $5 million and provide 20 acres of land. Walden Monterey hopes to attract these wealthy Silicon Valley locals for a peaceful transition when coming home from staring at a computer screen all day. Nick Jekogian, the site’s developer, initially thought of taking the land and creating a golf course. After spending the night in a tent on the land, his motive changed. What were tracks for golf carts, will now be used for dog parks and amenities. Golf posts will be turned into homes and acres of potential room for farmland. This is to provide those with a farm-to-table diet.

Millennial Investors

By combining the amenities of rural farming and modern living, millennials have been fleeing to these Agrihoods. The Ranch at Rancho Mission Viejo, however, is attracting these hipster millennials. Developers initially hoped to create a vibrant and creative way to bring together an engaging community. Since millennials contribute a large percent to today’s new homebuyers, this Agrihood in particular seems to serve all interest. Once completed, the Agrihood will provide 6,000 acres of homes, as well as over 17,000 acres full of natural habitat reserve.

Agrihoods Across the U.S.

While California is no stranger to community gardens, urban agriculture or co-housing, other states have been taking action as well.

    Serenbe, an agrihood in Atlanta, has accommodated locals with a lush community. The natural setting of Serenbe offers green wetland, watershed areas, as well as sloping hills that border the community. The Agrihood offers 1,000 acres of housing, farmland, is 30 minutes from the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and even includes 3 on-site restaurants.

    • Another great example is Vermont’s own South Village. The 4-acre organic farm sets apart from other communities as it also provides its own carbon-free electricity. This is done by utilizing a 528-panel photovoltaic solar array. In addition, South Village residents can cycle across the designated pathways, go cross-country skiing and browse through the community gardens.

    •Lastly, we come across the South Shore of Kaua’i. Here, we find the agrihood of Kukui’ula. This Hawaiian paradise stretches over 20 acres and sits beside a peaceful lake. Here, locals can dig into their roots by cultivating bananas, papayas, chard, citrus, herbs, pineapple, arugula and much more!

Original Blog by Jesamine D.

Rebuilding in a Fire Zone

Carr Fire by Pacific Southwest Region 5 via Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfsregion5/43928965401/in/photolist-29VRqXc-272MitQ-28TgBrQ-2agvdTy-2agtUA3-27nsDBJ-29CeZuR-28XFt7c-2akHDJM-MDXFSw-28JKC2B-28c5Ftf-28XFuAp-27qJ4SQ-29668Vf-27qJ28w-2966j77-2ap78Kp-2aSCuyN-28NsSDx-L9mMYv-5MvNBx-2ajQrCA-27nsDSd-2a8iMxH-29fj95o-5ZAYQE-2aXTUDm-28c5FLQ-2agtU2h-N48xvU-28NLpgE-29JXvpy-MZT7CJ-2ajQqNj-yR4b1z-2965PcJ-MuvHLC-yR2u4o-ybCMzd-ybHV6K-yR3Dxb-yR8dPc-MNTSGw-z7tv63-z9sWRF-z9tcoB-yR4Sns-ybCuAn-z6kzLb

Rebuilding in a Fire Zone

Original Blog by Jesamine D. for The Code Solution

Californians are no stranger to fires. Usually in farmlands or neighborhoods of higher elevation, these wildfires ruin everything in their path – from homes, cars, building structures and even an entire neighborhood. What’s even worse is having no choice but continue rebuilding in a fire zone.

Lack of Proper Housing

The housing crisis in California has been a problem that’s failed to see any resolution. In addition, communities are allowing homes to be built in straight up fire hazard zones. When it comes to trying to accommodate the housing crisis, as well as find safe space to do so, challenges are at-hand.

Refilling the Void

After enduring serious wildfires, communities are slowly attempting to rebuild their homes. Though a traumatic experience, many of these communities have no choice but to rebuild their homes and community in the same fire zone area where they lost it all.

Vegetation Loss

A prime example is the town of Montecito near Santa Barbara County. Earlier this 2018, the Thomas Fire scorched over 281,000 acres nearby Montecito, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The aftermath of the fire not only damaged nearby neighborhoods, but completely scorched all vegetation in the surrounding mountains and hillsides.

The Fire’s Comeback

The Thomas Fire caused natural vegetation like soil, plants and other agriculture, to burn to a complete crisp. Soon after the Thomas fire, a mudslide engulfed a nearby town. The vegetation in the surrounding Ventura and Santa Barbara hills usually absorb any incoming rainfall, but given the massive fire that recently burned everything in its path – this incoming storm was going to be different. Rather than the usual leaves or debris that absorb the rainfall, heavy amount of rain were absorbed in all the loose ash, soot and dirt that were leftover from the fire. The heavier it rained, the thicker the mud grew. The Montecito mudslide, like the Thomas fire, destroyed everything it touched and even swept away entire structures. Unfortunately, the mudslide was so destructive that it claimed the lives of 17 individuals, as well as left another 17 unaccounted for.

$421 Million in Damages

Many of the affected neighbors didn’t have flood or mudslide insurance. With little hope of recovering, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones felt otherwise. On January 29th, 2018, Jones sent a formal notice to insurers encouraging proper coverage for mudslide victims, regardless of policy. Knowing many Californians often don’t have mudslide, debris flow or flood coverage on their policy, Jones wanted to stress the urgency in recovering to insurers. The overall amount of damages resulted in $421 million.

Fire Extremity

2017 was California’s hottest year. With hundreds of fires, an increased mortality rate, destruction rate and loss of complete neighborhoods, it’s no telling when it will occur again. Whether it be global warming or human-caused, fires are a norm in California. Though many have lost their lives and property on these high-risk fire areas, why are developers still building on these lands?

Continuing to Build in Fire Prone Areas

Simply put, developers keep building in fire areas because Californians keep paying for it, according to Bloomberg. With the housing epidemic on the rise, Californians still need a place to live. Where are those fire damage victims going to live? These demands have led local officials to to issue permits for re-building in fire zones and even by exempting some building codes, allowing for even bigger homes to be built in these hazardous areas.

Fire Risks and Damages

Though Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones sent a notice to insurers to protect these fire damage victims, policyholders are still making the same decisions that initially put these tenants at risk. Due to 2017’s hottest year on record, insurers are fleeing these fire-prone communities. Some insurance companies have even decided to cancel policies due to the increased risk of more potential fires. With more than 2 million homes at risk, Governor Jerry Brown has claimed this condition is “normal” for California. With fire risks at a new norm, insurers have been cancelling policies left and right.

Rebuilding in Fire Severity Zones

After 2017’s drastic chain of fires, some codes that maintain buildings and developments, have been changed. In order to reduce the likelihood of structures catching fire, newer codes and restrictions have been placed. In order to prevent further fire damage, we can protect ourselves by adhering to the following two standards:

    Creating Defensible Space – though California law already requires 100 feet of space around buildings, a new ordinance requires a reduction of flammable items that surround these structures.
    Exterior Wildfire Exposure Protection – this ordinance was set so that new developments should be built with minimal risk of catching fire from burning embers.

There are over 31 million acres that are classified as “Fire Hazard Severity Zones” or “State Responsibility Areas.” These portions of land were given the name due to its high likelihood and history of catching fire. These areas are where the State has financial responsibility in aiding these wildfire areas.

Project Precaution

Any design or construction for new structures/homes in these severity zones must follow the wildfire exposure protection codes. This means removing any flammable objects or vegetation, using material that is least likely to catch fire from burning embers, as well as full disclosure of the hazardous area when taking part of a real estate transfer. For more information, check out the California Department of Fire & Forestry’s information page.

Before planning your next build, check whether or not
your preferred area is in a high-risk fire severity zone.

Questions or need assistance? Contact us – we can help.

Original Blog by Jesamine D. for The Code Solution

San Jose Proposes to Convert Schools into Teacher Housing

via David Sawyer on Flickr

San Jose Proposes to Convert Schools into Teacher Housing

An Original Blog by Jesamine D.The Code Solution

Housing in California is a crisis that not only exists today, but has also been drastically increasing over time. Los Angeles Times has even noted that 4 out of 10 Californians are living in poverty. this increasing risk places an impact on those that live in the neighborhood including parents, their children and even the teachers at nearby schools. This is especially true for teachers in San Jose’s rising housing cost neighborhoods.

An Attempt for Fair Housing

In midst of the housing crisis, the Northern California District proposed a plan to convert nearby schools into low-income housing for teachers. The district originally proposed to convert 9 properties (including schools and district offices) into housing for nearby teachers in the area. This would be set in place in order to help the many teachers that often live far away from their schools due to soaring housing costs. Many teachers face up to 4 hours daily when commuting to and from work.

Neighborhood Backlash

Though a seemingly supportive proposal, nearby residents felt otherwise. Hundreds of residents voiced their opinion on the matter. In fact, the community back-lashed the overall proposal, stating that by removing these school landmarks and converting them into low-income housing, would decrease the value of its neighborhood.

“It is ridiculous,” former Leland football coach Mike Carrozzo said of the proposal. “You’re going to build low-income housing in one of the more prosperous areas in the Bay Area, which also happens to be the furthest corner of the district for district teachers. It’s crazy.”

Moving School Locations

San Jose’s Unified School District further noted that the housing would not only benefit nearby teachers, but other school employees as well. In the proposal were suggested conversions of the beloved Leland High School and Bret Harte High School in the well-known Almaden Valley, a prestige and wealthy community. Additionally, schools consistently run into the problem of having to hire and retain employees do to long commutes and the rising housing costs near the school.

Declining Enrollment & Employment

The eight schools found in the proposal would later be transferred to another area, if given the opportunity to build for teacher housing. Schools that were brought into the proposal were originally picked due to declining enrollment and employment. Like the long and tedious commute that teachers face daily, parents also have a long commute when dropping off their kids at school. Not only does this affect their kids grades and attendance, but the parents attendance at work, as well. Furthermore, if given the opportunity to build the housing, the schools wouldn’t be shut down at all. Instead, these schools would be moved into other locations.

The Push for Teacher Housing

A proposal to defeat San Jose’s housing problem only brought more problems among the community itself. Though this was freshly proposed, other communities have begun to make an influence out of this, as well. A great example of the like would be Palo Alto’s experimental teacher housing, where they received additional funding to support the project.

Affordable-Housing Developments

Over 200 teachers are replaced yearly in San Jose’s school district. If supportive teacher housing isn’t in place, will this jeopardize the future of our schools? Whether it takes converting schools or some other plan, something must be done to save these high-risk schools.

An Original Blog by Jesamine D.The Code Solution

Questions or need assistance? Contact us immediately – We’re here to help.

Palo Alto Affordable Housing Wins RARE Zone Change

3705 El Camino Real by Pyatok Architecture & Urban Design - Palo Alto Online

https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2018/09/26/affordable-housing-project-scores-zoning-victory-in-palo-alto

(Above image): 3705 El Camino Real Affordable Housing Development in Palo Alto by Pyatok Architecture + Urban Design | Source: Palo Alto Online

Palo Alto Affordable Housing Wins Rare Zone Change

Original Blog by Jesamine D. | The Code Solution

After 7 long years, Palo Alto’s affordable housing developments have received a rare zone change from the Planning and Transportation Commission.

The Camino Real Development

The Commission will apply the key zone change to Palo Alto’s non-profit housing on 3705 Camino Real beginning this 2018. In addition, this low-income project will soon house residents that make in income of 30 to 60 percent of the overall area’s median. With 65 units in place, 30 of the units will also be designated for residents with disability.

Overcoming Project Discouragement

Though commissioners were skeptical about the zone change, city councilors went ahead and created it anyway. With a 7-2 vote, council agreed to pursue the “Affordable Housing Combing District.” These were initially created to promote more low-income housing projects with higher level allowance, greater density, as well as less-strict parking restrictions. When word of the new change was spread throughout town, many emails urging to push the affordable housing were received. Others were weary that the zone’s overlay would affect other neighboring areas, as well. But – given the 100% dedication to the zone’s purpose of fulfilling affordable housing, everyone was soon on board.

“I don’t think we should be treating housing as a luxury, and we’re far behind on our housing production as a state,” Monk said. “We are seeing people living on the streets in numbers that just keep growing. We do need to do our part to address that problem.”

Failed Projects

Palo Alto’s newest affordable-housing project will be the first of its kind since the 45-unit Treehouse development on Charleston Road in 2011. Additionally, the city attempted to build another 60 units for low-income seniors and 12 single family homes in 2013. Unfortunately, the council-approved zoning was overturned by city voters.

Creating More Affordable Housing

Other neighborhoods should see Palo Alto’s rare zone change as motivation to continue building these much-needed affordable-housing projects. Even after having the proposal of the housing be overturned or discouraged, the low-income development proved to be worthy.

Questions or need assistance? Contact us, we’re here to help.

Original Blog by Jesamine D. | The Code Solution

Costa Hawkins and Voting NO on Prop 10

Activists disappointed after an Assembly committee blocked a bill to
lift statewide restrictions on types rent control demonstrate in
California’s Capitol on Thursday. (Katy Murphy - Bay Area News Group)
source: mercury news

Costa Hawkins and Voting NO on Prop 10

In 1995, California passed a statute allowing landlords to charge “market” rent whenever a new tenant enters a lease. The Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act permits this rent alteration, just as long as written notice is properly given. Though the Rent Adjustment Commission hasn’t reported more than 5% of rent increase since 1985, rent prices would still increase anywhere from 3-5%. This includes potential increase in single-family homes, most condominiums and multi-family rental units that were built after 1995.

Los Angeles Housing Crisis

A large amount of Los Angeles residents spend more than half of their income on rent. With housing rates this extreme, it’s now evident why one in four LA residents are living in poverty. Unfortunately, the Act only increases the risk in Los Angeles’ current housing crisis. Though the need for affordable housing is apparent, the Act severely impacted a 2009 court decision,which would’ve required developers to include affordable housing units in their resident projects.

Restoring Affordable Housing

The Court responded by stating Los Angeles’ violated the Costa Hawkins Act by allowing lower rent rates for newly constructed units. In contrast of this, Governor Jerry Brown (thankfully) signed a bill that restored the permission to pursue building affordable units in new rental developments.

Pursuing Low-Income Residential Projects

While the demand for affordable housing continues to grow, new housing developments are increasing at an even slower pace. This sufficient lack leaves California’s rate of new housing projects short of demand. Even for homeowners who are subleasing even a single room in their residence, they may still be subject to increases in their rent. Though repealing an act will take time to display results, it all starts with a “no.”

What is Prop 10?

Prop 10 is a statute that was presented to California courts when determining whether local governments should step into place for adopting rent control ordinances. The proposition would repeal the Costa Hawkins Act, reversing many of its requirements. In addition, the proposition includes flaws such as not increase housing for affordable spending, will not force local communities to build affordable housing and finally, the prop will not provide any instant relief for those facing higher housing rates.

“NO” on Prop. 10

When getting your ballot in the mail, it’s important to understand what each prop represents before voting. For example, prop 10 provide doesn’t provide protection for renters, seniors, veterans, the disabled, nor does the prop provide affordable housing or rent rollbacks, either. Overall, renters will immediately feel the effects of prop 10’s harmful output. Having such in effect will cause landlords to convert their apartments into potential condominiums, increasing rent prices and vacation opportunities. This will push many of California’s renters in a state of “where do I go now?” To better our community, we can stop this reduction of affordable and middle-class housing by voting “no” on prop 10.

Original Blog by Jesamine D.


Questions or need assistance?
Contact us immediately, we’re here to help.

A Beginner’s Guide to TOC

TOC

TOC Apartments in North Santa Fe, by Community Housing Works (CHW)

Discussing Transit-Oriented Communities (TOC)

Living in Los Angeles has its ups and downs. For one, anyone who is a Los Angeles native knows all about the frequent congestion in traffic. When sitting at a complete standstill on the freeway, we’ve all often thought, “where did all these people come from?” Moreover, “where do all these people live?” As California keeps growing, the need for proper housing accommodations keeps rising. Given this urgency, the city of Los Angeles has passed an ordinance to benefit residential developers in an effort to provide more housing for all.

Intent

Overall, the ordinance gives developers the opportunity to create a much larger-scale project than what is normally allowed. The underlying hope is to build more affordable housing in close proximity to major transit stops so that there will be a lesser need for Angelinos to rely on their cars for traversing the city. This opportunity should push investors to build these larger projects, all while benefiting the community’s current affordable housing need. Every lot within a TOC Affordable Housing Incentive Area will be determined by the shortest distance between any point on the lot and the major transit stop. In addition, the developer has a responsibility to provide documentation which states their desired project is within a TOC-permitted area. Development of the residency will take effect once the city has given its approval.

TOC Incentive Requirements

In order to completely satisfy Los Angeles’ ordinance requirements, several qualifying factors must be met. These are the nuts and bolts of getting a TOC project approved by the city:

1. On-Site Affordable Housing – Every tier will have On-Site Restricted Affordable Housing, as determined by the Housing Development. The minimum number of affordable units will be determined by the overall number of units in the final project. These On-Site Affordable Housing Units will be available at the below percentage rates:

Tier 1

    1. : 8% of these units should be available to those of the Extremely Low Income (ELI) households, or 11% of these units for Very Low-Income households, or 20% of the units for Lower Income households.

Tier 2

    1. : 9% for the Extremely Low-Income households, or 12% for Very Low-Income households, or 21% for Low Income households.

Tier 3

    1. : 10% for the Extremely Low-Income households, 14% for Very Low-Income households, or 23% for Lower-Income households; and

Tier 4

    : 11% for Extremely Low-Income Households, 15% Very Low-Income households, or 25% for Lower-Income households.

2. One-Half Mile from Major Transit Stop – This is perhaps one of the most crucial elements when planning a development with TOC-supplied incentives. Each residential project must be within 2,640 square feet from a major transit stop. When referring to bus stops, such development must be within at least two major bus stops. This does not include bus stops along the same road, as it must be perpendicular.

TOC Tier, TOC Guidelines, TOC, TOC Los Angeles

TOC guidelines by City of Los Angeles

3. Housing Replacement – In order for the development to be effective, such must be able to fulfill the applicable housing replacement requirements set forth by the California Government Code Section 65915(c)(3). In addition, prior to obtaining the building permit, the Department of Housing and Community Investment must first verify you meet the affordable housing replacement needs.
4. Density and Development Bonus Restrictions – Under the California Government Code Section 65915, the housing development under TOC compliance is not permitted to receive other density or development bonuses. This includes restriction from any other State or local programs that typically provide such development incentives. Lastly, these restrictions apply to bonuses or incentives that would grant additional units through a General Plan Amendment, Zone Change, or Height District Change. Affordable housing development bonuses within a Transit Neighborhood Plan, Specific Plan, overlay district, or Community Plan Implementation Overlay (CPIO), will not be permitted to request nor obtain, either.

5. Base and Additional Incentives – Housing Developments involved with the TOC ordinance are able to receive Base Incentives, or “Base Units,” which are the maximum allowed density for its zoning. On-Site Restricted Affordable Housing Units may also be applicable to the affordable housing units in its section. For more detailed information on the allowable incentives, please refer to the city of Los Angeles’ TOC Guidelines.

6. Projects Adhering to Labor Standards – For projects that have accommodated the required labor standards, the grant of two additional incentives (or a total of five incentives) may be permitted.
7. 100% Affordable Housing Developments – An increase in tier will be permitted to Eligible Housing Development buildings that contain 100% On-Site Affordable Housing Units.

TOC Tiers

The incentives offered to developers increases dependant upon how close, or hor how far a parcel is from a particular type of transit. The specifics are detailed in the chart above. Closer proximity will put a project in a higher tier, thus allowing for the development of a larger, more dense structure. When exploring your options for a TOC project, it’s important to understand what tier specifications are available. In order for your development to build efficiently, it’s important to set your project in an R3 tier (at minimum). Though R4 tiers are preferred, establishing such in any Tier 4 may be nearly impossible. The higher the Tier the better. Tier 3’s may be of great benefit to developers, especially given this factor will allow a maximum of 0.5 spaces per unit, regardless of bedroom count.

There are two main base incentives that have the largest impact on the size and scope of a TOC project. They are an increase in the number of dwelling units (density), and and increase in the buildable square footage (floor area ratio, or, FAR). Once you break it down, it may look like this:

    1. Tier 1 – 50% increase in density / 40% increase in FAR
    1. Tier 2 – 60% increase in density / 45% increase in FAR
    1. Tier 3 – 70% increase in density / 50% increase in FAR
    Tier 4 – 80% increase in density / 55% increase in FAR

In-Lieu Fee

For developers to begin executing the TOC residency, they must build units off-site or on-site, obtain and preserve at-risk (affordable) properties, or pay an in-lieu fee. As stated in Measure JJJ, the in-lieu fee would be 1.1 multiplied by the number of units provided by the developer, then multiplied by the region’s “affordability gap.” The development’s number of bedrooms and other underlying factors must coincide with the in-lieu fees the project. Such in-lieu fees would consist of the following:

$43,695

    1. per studio unit

$46,350

    1. per one-bedroom unit

$51,313

    1. per two-bedroom unit

$56,965

    per three-bedroom unit

The above fees in-lieu pertain to 5% of units that are designated for extremely low-income and low-income households, thus granting the lower fee amount. In contrast, for projects that are being executed in regions where residential use was not previously permitted, the in-lieu fees are as follows:

$62,826

    1. per studio unit

$66,585

    1. per one-bedroom unit

$73,704

    1. per two-bedroom unit

$81,817

    per three-bedroom unit

Los Angeles Transit-Oriented Communities

Overall, investors and developers in Los Angeles should be aware of the city’s great incentive. Los Angeles itself is a city that keeps growing and growing. With the extreme housing need filling our community, it’s important developers consider a residential project that will not only benefit their development, but benefit the community, as well.

Original Blog by Jesamine D.

For any questions you may have, or for assistance in planning your TOC project, contact us immediately – we’re here to help.

City Officials Make Plans to Reevaluate Parking Minimums

Jaymantri | Pexels

Jaymantri | Pexels

As a multi-family and mixed use developer, getting the most units out of your project is your number one goal. Being able to fully maximize your space and increase income revenue is an important aspect to consider when developing your architectural plans. One of the sources of wasted space, especially for smaller developments, are parking minimums. Developers must now reserve space for parking cutting into potential unit space. Read more

Multifamily: A Rise in Rents and Micro Apartments

The Code Solution is excited to announce our first guest post from our friends at The Llenrock Group! The following post was originally published on Llenrock Blog. 

If you’ve heard anything about housing trends, you know that multi-family developments are on the rise. And the American dream seems like just that – a dream. More residents are renting rather than buying. There’s also been a huge influx of “micro” apartments. What does that mean for you? If you’re in the market to rent (or buy), you’ll want to read on!

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