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Oakland’s growing pains could stifle future development

Dozens of cranes dot Oakland’s skyline and thousands of new housing units are in the works, making the current cycle one of the most robust in Oakland’s history.

As more people and businesses turn toward Oakland as a cheaper area to live and work, Oakland has struggled to keep up with both office and housing demand. Downtown Oakland is one of the tightest office markets in the country and multifamily rents have risen 51% since the start of the cycle.

Developers and designers are looking for ways to build more efficiently to keep rents down, but growing community activism, overworked city planning staff and tightening financing could stall future growth in Oakland.

Panelists discussed these topics as well as the impact of modular units and designing housing to meet residents’ changing needs during Bisnow’s Oakland Construction and Development Update event Thursday.

With 900 housing units delivering this year and 2,400 next year, the city is undergoing rapid change.

“Instead of the city [staff] focusing on department stores and auto dealerships, they’re making Oakland a very vibrant place to live,” Junction Properties owner Charles Long said during the event.

The increased development has spurred an anti-displacement movement and a backlash over a lack of affordable housing, which could shut down the future fulfillment of housing that Oakland has in its pipeline, he said.

Developers need to be more cognizant of working with the city and other stakeholders to better address the anti-displacement backlash, he said.

 

Read more on Bisnow

 

 

Modular units make their debut at Oakland housing project

Modular units are being installed at Coliseum Connections in Oakland.

The $53M project, developed by a JV of UrbanCore and Oakland Economic Development Corp., will create 110 mixed-income units on a 1.3-acre Bay Area Rapid Transit-owned parking lot ground-leased to the JV.

The modular units were built by Guerdon Enterprises out of Boise, Idaho. Completion of the modular unit placement is expected on June 29. The project is expected to be completed in January when occupancy also is expected to begin.

Coliseum Connections is one of a handful of modular projects in the works or being planned in Oakland. Panoramic Interests plans to build over 1,000 units in West Oakland next to BART, and RAD Urban is planning two high-rises from steel modular units.

The project at Snell Street and 71st Avenue will have 55 market-rate units with rents ranging from $1,900 to $2,400 for households earning 80% to 120% of the area median income; the other 55 units will be affordable with rents from $1,100 to $1,600 for households earning 50% to 60% of the area median income.

 

Read more on Bisnow

 

 

Modular construction to be used in high-rise housing in Oakland

Oakland will soon have the tallest prefab modular high-rise apartment complex in the country.

RAD Urban is pushing forward with plans to build two 29-story high-rises with 200 units of housing using steel-framed modular units.

Unlike projects built with wood-framed modular units that top off at mid-rise level, projects built with steel-framed modular units can reach much higher, RAD Urban Senior Vice President, Construction and Operations Jason Laub said.

Modular isn’t new to construction and it has been around for decades, Laub said. Modular construction and other emerging construction technologies will be discussed at Bisnow’s upcoming Oakland Construction and Development Update! June 14.

The increased costs of construction has caused more people to look at modular as a solution and cost savings, Laub said.

“Developers are increasingly not able to make projects pencil,” he said. “We need to … look for creative technologies to advance the industry and lower the cost to build and deliver housing.”

Steel modular construction saves 20% on construction costs and time to completion compared to conventional stick-built construction.

Modular construction is quickly becoming an alternative to traditional construction to save time and money throughout the Bay Area.

 

 

Read more from Bisnow

 

 

Oakland, A’s begin Coliseum ballpark negotiations

The Oakland A’s now have the blessing to study both the Coliseum and Howard Terminal in their quest to build a new ballpark in Oakland.

The Oakland City Council on Tuesday night approved an “exclusive negotiating agreement” with the A’s, allowing the two to begin talks about constructing a ballpark at the Coliseum, the MLB team’s home for 50 years.

In vote taken just before midnight, the council entered into an agreement to negotiate with the A’s over the next nine months, while President Dave Kaval studies if the 112-acre East Oakland site is the right fit. The city can extend the negotiations for an additional three months.

“This decision about a new privately-financed ballpark is a really important moment not only for the A’s but our community,” Kaval told council. “We look forward to working together not only this year but for many years to come.”

Last month, the A’s and the Port of Oakland agreed to study Howard Terminal, located near Jack London Square and the estuary. Kaval has called the study of two sites “parallel paths” to keep the team in Oakland.

Though an aging complex, the Coliseum has had some bites from developers lately. Walnut Creek developer Mark Hall approached the city to build a 15,000-18,000 seat soccer stadium for a United Soccer League franchise. The city said another person proposed to build a corporate campus at the Coliseum.

While Howard Terminal needs environmental review and has access issues, an environmental review for the Coliseum is already completed. It’s also favored for its proximity to BART, Interstate 880 and the Oakland International Airport.

 

 

Read more from East Bay Times

 

 

Oakland’s exclusive deal to sell city-owned land to charter school draws opposition

The City of Oakland is poised to sell a large plot of land it owns in the Fruitvale neighborhood to a private developer for the purpose of building a new charter school campus.

But the project — and the city’s years-long involvement in it — is suddenly drawing criticism from education and affordable housing activists who say it reflects Oakland’s lack of transparency when deciding how to use public property.

Under the proposed terms of the deal, the city will sell a 9,000-square-foot parcel on Derby Avenue between International Boulevard and E. 15th Street for $450,000. The buyer, an Idaho-based company called Pacific West Communities, Inc. plans to construct a new school campus on the site for the Aspire charter organization’s ERES Academy, a K-8th grade school. The campus was approved by the city planning commission last month.

ERES Academy’s staff say the new facility is critical because the building they’re currently in — located one mile away on Courtland Avenue and leased from a church — is too small.

“The physical nature of the classrooms is super-constrained,” Aspire’s Dean of Students Jesse Johnson told the city planning commission last month. “The children are bumping into each other. It’s crammed.”

ERES Academy currently has 217 students, according to state records, but Aspire, which operates 40 charter schools in California and Tennessee, hopes to grow. The proposed new school campus could accommodate more than 600 students.

City staff say the land deal will put the property, which used to be part of an auto dealership, back into productive use, and that new charter school is in the public’s interest. They also say the city is coming out financially ahead by selling the land.

 

Read more from East Bay Express

 

 

San Jose makes changes to housing policy

The San Jose City Council voted to allow landlords to evict tenants convicted of violent felonies.

As development in San Jose explodes and housing prices continue to soar, the City Council on Tuesday night adopted changes to the city’s housing policies that could benefit renters and provide protections for landlords.

At the Housing Department’s recommendation, the council agreed to prohibit landlords of rent-controlled apartments from dividing utility costs based on how many people live in each apartment and the unit’s size rather than how much gas or electricity they actually use. So the council is asking property owners to install sub meters at each apartment so families are charged only for what they actually use.

The council also tweaked the tenant protection ordinance it adopted last year, and will now prevent landlords from threatening to share information about their tenants’ immigration status with immigration authorities.

The city also will let landlords evict tenants with serious or violent felonies. Acknowledging concerns about the displacement of families, landlords must give renters a chance to evict such felons before ousting an entire family. Mayor Sam Liccardo supported the idea, and asked the city to provide an exception for children convicted of such crimes.

Also up for debate was an issue around the Ellis Act, which outlines when and how the owners of some rent-controlled apartments in the city — generally those built before September 1979 — can take them off the market.

Read more from The Mercury News

Builders, Developers Focus On Ways To Save Costs, Build More Housing Units In Oakland, Bay Area

With rising construction costs, a costly entitlement process and labor shortages, Bay Area developers are looking into new ways to build housing more cost-effectively.

Developers are utilizing density bonuses, adding more efficiencies into construction, exploring modular units and prefab and experimenting with new techniques to keep costs down and get more projects off the ground.

Even though there are 17,000 units at different planning stages in Oakland, many of these units rent in the $3K to $4K range, which is not affordable for a majority of people in the Bay Area, oWow founder Danny Haber said during Bisnow’s Alameda County Multifamily and Mixed-Use event in Oakland.

His company’s focus has been on creating macro-units with efficient design that lead to three- and four-bedroom units that are more cost-effective to build and end up being 50% more affordable than their market-rate counterparts.

“The biggest amenity today … is affordable housing and access to jobs and opportunities to work,” Haber said.

Read more from Bisnow

 

 

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

 

 

 

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