A housing shortage? Develop infill projects. An economic development crisis? Infill development. Traffic congestion? Yep, more infill development. Infill development has become the go-to solution to our land-use ills. It seems so easy—just gather up those odd lots and abandoned properties and create a brand-new project with ready-made customers and retail businesses right next door. If only it was so easy.
Here’s a summary of the findings:
The report includes a number of significant findings, including:
- There is no quantitative evidence that CEQA has a retarding effect on the state’s economic prosperity.
- Legislative changes to CEQA aimed at streamlining the CEQA process to encourage infill development are working. In San Francisco, only 14 environmental impact reports were prepared in the last three years. In that time, 100 projects proceeded with CEQA exemptions or expedited review.
- Despite rapid population growth and development, the number of CEQA lawsuits statewide has remained constant over the past 14 years. Between 2013 and 2015, legal challenges were filed in 0.7 percent of projects subject to CEQA review.
- Less than one percent of projects subject to CEQA review face litigation.
- Direct costs for complete environmental reviews under CEQA typically range from 0.025% to 0.5% of total development costs.
- California is the 11th most densely populated state in the nation. Its urban areas compare favorably to cities around the country with regard to the rate of infill vs. greenfield development.
- The state’s largest cities show ongoing improvement in walkability. California is home to 12 of the nation’s 50 most walkable cities.
- CEQA does not hamper the development of affordable housing in urban areas. Although the need to provide more affordable housing in California is undisputed, when compared to other states, California produces the second highest number of affordable housing units per 100,000 residents in the nation.
Davis has not been able to develop larger tracts of land to attract firms working on innovation and partnering with UC Davis. Opponents of several proposed projects have claimed that developers can instead assemble the numerous infill parcels that already exist within city limits to create the needed innovation parks. Now a new study in the leading journal, American Economics Review, finds that in Los Angeles, assembling a group of parcels for such projects faces sale prices 15% to 40% more than a single parcel project. And that doesn’t include the typical per parcel transaction costs that are compounded by multiple purchases. The bottom line is that infill development for larger projects face a high cost premium that must be acknowledged.