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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’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

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

 

 

Housing for North Berkeley BART?

BART and city leaders recently took the first steps toward a mixed-use housing development on the station’s parking lots, but there’s still a long road ahead.

In its early days, BART bulldozed houses to build massive parking lots for commuters to San Francisco, devastating several low-income communities in the East Bay. But then in the mid-1990s, the transit agency started a shift toward building housing, office, and retail around its stations instead. And during the past 15 years or so, the agency has been planning developments at most of its stations with surface parking lots — including projects at Ashby station in Berkeley and at most of its above-ground Oakland stations.

But the stations surrounding some of BART’s most desirable real estate have been excluded from development planning so far. For example, despite high home prices around the Rockridge BART station in North Oakland and the fact that it’s only a 20-minute ride to downtown San Francisco, BART has produced no development plans for the area to date.

For North Berkeley, a 25-minute ride from San Francisco, BART has at least considered building on the land. An overview of BART’s transit-oriented development strategy provided to this reporter last year included a map of existing, planned, and future development. North Berkeley was listed as a site for potential future development with 100-percent affordable housing, but BART had no more specific plans than that.

Read more from East Bay Express

 

 

San Francisco and Oakland Rents Inch up but Remain below Peak

Having ended last year lower than where they started, asking rents for apartments in San Francisco have inched up around one percent over the past two months, in part due to the typical seasonality in rents.

And in fact, based on a comparison of roughly 2,600 listings, the weighted average asking rent for an apartment in San Francisco, including one-off rentals as well as units in larger developments, is currently running around $4,100 a month, which is 0.9 percent lower versus the same time last year and 8.5 percent below its peak in the fourth quarter of 2015 with the average asking rent for a one-bedroom still running around $3,400 a month having ticked down from around $3,650.

At the same time, the weighted average asking rent for an apartment in Oakland is currently running around $2,450 a month which is 0.5 percent higher than at the same time last year but still 18 percent lower than a mid-2016 peak with the average asking rent for a one-bedroom still running around $2,100 a month, which remains around 40 percent cheaper than in San Francisco.

Read more from SocketSite

 

 

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