Development without gentrification? Oakland’s Fruitvale is the model, report says

Oakland’s Fruitvale transit village has been a boon to the surrounding community without gentrification

The cluster of shops, community service organizations and apartments at the Fruitvale BART station may not seem all that different from other commercial plazas, but to some economists and urban planners, it’s the grand prize of development — at least, for now.

Researchers from UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative say the transit village has been a boon to the surrounding neighborhood without resulting in gentrification. As many low-income and working class residents across the state are forced to leave urban areas due to rising rents and home prices, the UCLA researchers said Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood has held onto its existing residents, along with its signature Mexican-American culture.

“It’s the holy grail of urban planning,” said Alexander Quinn, an economist with Hatch, who reviewed the study’s findings, “to say we improved the place and the people who live there are better off.”

But long-time residents, academics and elected officials question whether Oakland’s Mexican-American mecca can continue to withstand the pressure of the region’s booming economy.  And, to them, the tide may already be turning.

Read more from East Bay Times

 

 

California Senate stalls transit-housing bill

Citing not enough affordable housing, vote against leaves Senator Scott Wiener’s signature bill in limbo

After months of public wrangling and amendment, San Francisco’s State Senator Scott Wiener finally brought his signature transit-housing bill SB 827 before the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee in Sacramento Tuesday, where it stalled on a 6-4 vote that leaves it in limbo.

SB 827 would have radically changed how California cities zone for height and density by making it illegal to place height limits below four to five stories (depending on the locale) along major transit routes.

Thanks to San Francisco’s extensive bus network, this would have applied to virtually every parcel in the city. But even cities with far less skin in the game, like Lafayette and Berkeley, complained that the bill redirected too much control from local municipalities to the state.

Calling local control “important but not biblical,” Wiener again labored on Tuesday to frame the bill as a necessary step given the scope of the crisis.

Read more from Curbed SF

 

 

 

San Francisco’s homeless crisis is driving tourists away

San Francisco’s hotels are facing a serious problem.

The city’s idyllic image of the Golden Gate bridge and grandiose views of the bay are being replaced by concerns about needles and feces littering the streets, homeless citizens sleeping on sidewalks or in Bay Area Rapid Transit stations and aggression toward visitors by people with untreated mental illness. Visitors are noticing and rethinking booking events and vacations at hotels around the city.

San Francisco’s homeless population was down by 0.5% in 2017 compared to 2015, but is about 17% higher compared to 2013, according to SFist. While homelessness is nothing new for the city, hoteliers and local business say street conditions have worsened.

Within 153 blocks in downtown, there were over 300 piles of feces, 100 drug needles and trash on every block, a recent report by NBCBayArea revealed. Complaints of poor street conditions to 311 have skyrocketed in recent years. In 2016, 311, a city agency where visitors and residents can report issues or seek information about the city, received 44,000 complaints of encampments, human waste and needles, up from 6,300 complaints in 2011, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“[Visitors] are noticing it and hearing about it and saying, ‘well, why would I bring my conference here?’” Hotel Council of San Francisco Executive Director Kevin Carroll said.

Visitors often have rave reviews for the local restaurants and hotel service, but say they will not come back or will not bring their families here, he said.

San Francisco is not the only major West Coast city dealing with issues of homelessness and street conditions impacting tourism and hospitality. Anaheim, home to Disneyland with its spotless, litter-free Main Street, U.S.A., has the stark contrast of homeless people who live just outside the park. The city has been looking into ways to help its homeless population, such as providing emergency shelter and employment opportunities. Honolulu also took action in recent years on cleaning up the streets, including around its popular Waikiki area.

Read more from Bisnow

 

 

 

Google says it’s close to owning enough downtown San Jose properties for ‘viable’ development

Google is nearing ownership of enough downtown San Jose properties and parcels to create a “viable” transit-oriented development.

The development will take place near the Diridon train station, a top company executive told a key advisory group this week.

During a meeting of the Station Area Advisory Group, formed to gather and process citizen input about Google’s proposal to develop a massive transit village near Diridon Station, Google executives offered the company’s first major presentation of its development philosophies and plans for downtown San Jose. The search giant also indicated that it is creating a critical mass of properties where it could build a transit-oriented community downtown.

“Just to get the sites together by itself is obviously very complicated, and it’s not completed yet, and it’s taking a while,” Mark Golan, Google’s vice president real estate development, told the advisory group during its Monday night meeting. “But we are getting close to having a site that is viable.”

Mountain View-based Google and its development ally Trammell Crow have spent at least $221.6 million buying an array of properties on the western edges of downtown San Jose, within and near a one-mile stretch that begins north of the SAP Center and reaches south nearly to Interstate 280.

Among the major recent deals: The Google and Trammell Crow venture bought a large site that now is occupied by Orchard Supply Hardware, and the search giant has struck a deal to purchase a huge property from Trammell Crow that is approved for 1 million square feet, hundreds of residences and retail.

Despite the extensive work and investments that have occurred already, construction isn’t going to begin tomorrow, Google executives cautioned.

Read more from Santa Cruz Sentinel

 

 

Wiener scales back bill that would allow taller housing near public transit

State Sen. Scott Wiener scales back a controversial housing proposal.

The proposed bill would strip local governments of their ability to block construction of taller and denser apartment and condominium buildings near public transit stops, and conceded the bill might not make it through the Legislature this year.

The San Francisco Democrat introduced amendments to his SB827 late Monday that would lower the maximum height of buildings that could go up as a result of the bill to five stories from eight. Also, the bill would take effect in 2021 instead of 2019.

Wiener made the amendments ahead of the bill’s first hearing April 17 in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. If passed, the bill will then head to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.

“The bill is not guaranteed to survive either committee,” Wiener said Tuesday. “It’s a hard bill. Hopefully, we pass through these committees and live to fight another day, but if not, then we will try again next year. It’s very common in the Legislature that for hard bills, sometimes you have to try multiple times.”

The measure would override local height limits on proposed four- and five-story apartment and condo buildings in residential areas if they are within a half mile of major transit hubs, such as a BART or Caltrain station. It also would limit cities’ ability to block denser buildings within a quarter-mile of highly used bus and light-rail stops, but amendments eliminated new height requirements.

Read more from San Francisco Chronicle

 

 

AI is Changing the CRE Game: Here’s 5 Ways

CRE industry leaders using artificial intelligence to analyze and apply data to decision making saw productivity increase of up to 6% compared to competitors.

In a study by Harvard Business Review about the revolution of big data as a management tool, it was found that artificial intelligence used to analyze and apply data to decision making by those at the top of the CRE industry saw an increase of up to 6% in productivity compared to their competitors.

AI is changing the CRE game in several different ways and in turn, having an impact on all CRE sectors in different ways.

Read more from NAI Global

 

 

Scott Wiener’s controversial housing bill gained a big supporter in BART

The fight over SB 827, a proposed law from California State Sen. Scott Wiener to upzone development sites near transit centers, has supporters and detractors lining up in due course.

If approved by the legislature, the law would limit local control over density, parking spaces and heights for housing projects within a certain distance to transit stops. Proponents of the law pitch a symbiosis between housing development and transit options, with the proximity of the two mitigating traffic congestion.

Recently, the effort to pass the law added the region’s most heavily trafficked public transportation system as a proponent: Bay Area Rapid Transit. Earlier this month the BART Board narrowly voted 5-4 to support the measure.

In many cases, building on transit agency sites takes decades, with negotiations with multiple government agencies, substantial community input, difficulties with financing and expensive parking requirements all playing a role.

BART has shown a willingness to support transit oriented development before, approving a policy in 2016 that encourages 20,000 homes to be built on its land by 2040.

Read more from San Francisco Business Times

 

 

MIPIM Day One: Driverless Cars Are Far Off, but Here’s How to Prep

Real estate professionals are eager to discuss the subject of driverless cars.

As self-driving cars slowly transition from fantasy to reality, real estate professionals eagerly crammed into a panel devoted to the subject on the first day of the Marché International des Professionnels de L’immobilier conference in Cannes, France.

But panelists didn’t make bold predictions of massive changes needed for buildings and roads. In fact, the experts were stumped about what would exactly happen as an effect of driverless cars—and when they would take over the streets.

“The key question of will we see more cars or less cars [on the road]—let me tell you we don’t know,” said Carlo Ratti, the director of innovation and design firm Carlo Ratti Associati, which has offices in New York City and Italy.

Speaking hypothetically he added: “According to most estimates if you’ve got self-driving cars moving around, then the cost per mile can decrease significantly. Today an Uber is $2.20 [or] $2.50 per mile in the United States. Well, that number could go down to something like 20 to 60 cents per mile [if the cars were driverless] according to some studies. Well, if that happens then it’s going to be hell, because nobody would want to take the subway anymore. The subway will be more expensive than a car… There will be jams everywhere.”

And when will self-driverless cars be the norm?

Read more from Commercial Observer

Investors are spending big bucks for a piece of Silicon Valley office

It is already proving to be an active year for Silicon Valley office.

In the last few months, investors have spent millions to expand their Silicon Valley office portfolios.

San Jose’s office market, which has been relatively slow in recent years, picked up following Google’s plans to build a massive campus near Diridon Station. The Peninsula, which includes Palo Alto and Menlo Park, also has seen additional activity.

Santa Clara County office vacancies were about 12% in 2017 and the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook continue to buy or lease office space around the county, according to The Mercury News. Adobe Systems bought a parcel at 333 West San Fernando for $68M in January and plans to build a fourth office tower. Google continues its buying spree as it prepares for its Diridon Station campus and early this year bought three North San Jose office buildings at Midpoint@237, a business park developed by Trammell Crow, for over $117M.

Investors are expanding their San Jose office portfolios as well. DivcoWest bought three buildings from Cisco Systems in North San Jose in January, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal. The $50M sale was for the buildings at 10 and 80 West Tasman Drive and 125 Rio Robles Drive, totaling over 313K SF.

Read more from Bisnow

 

 

 

California to allow testing of self-driving cars without a driver present

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles established new rules announced Monday.

These new rules will allow tech companies and others working on driverless vehicle systems to begin trialing their cars without a safety driver at the wheel. The new rules go into effect starting April 2.

Until now, the DMV has allowed companies approved for autonomous vehicle testing to run their cars on the roads, with autonomous driving systems engaged, provided that there’s a trained safety driver behind the wheel ready and able to take over manual control. Now, the regulators are updating their rules to allow for fully driverless test, which is a key step along the route towards actually deploying self-driving vehicles in a commercial capacity.

Read more from TechCrunch