Infill Builders at the State Capitol

Part of my work with UC Berkeley and UCLA involves gathering business leaders to discuss opportunities presented by climate change policies.  In the case of real estate development, the common refrain from sustainable developers seems to be to tell government to get out of their way and let them build more walkable, mixed-use communities around the state’s major transit hubs.  That was part of the message we heard back in March 2009 at our first gathering in the series.

But little did we know that the small group gathered that day would decide to form their own advocacy group to fight for policies to benefit sustainable development. Their group, the California Infill Builders Association (abbreviated as “Infill Builders”), has since become deeply involved in land use issues throughout California’s state and local governments. The Infill Builders threw their Sacramento launch party in the building that Governor Jerry Brown now calls home (one of the founding members owns the place) and recently debuted on the Los Angeles scene as well.

The group is now pushing its first bill, AB 710. Authored by Berkeley Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, the bill will reduce parking minimums for development near major transit hubs. The idea is that local governments should not require transit-adjacent properties to build more parking spots than is economically and practically necessary. Each parking spot is expensive and limits the overall size of the project. Of course, a developer could still build more parking than the minimum, but the Infill Builders believe that choice should be up to the market.

AB 710 faces a critical hurdle this afternoon at 1:30pm at the Assembly Local Government Committee. Local governments usually don’t like having the state government tell them what to do when it comes to land use, although the bill has received support from cities like San Bernardino and others that want more infill. You can watch the hearing live or listen here (scroll for the committee link).

To read more about the Infill Builders, the Planning Report interviewed two founding members, who credit our work at the two law schools for sparking the group’s formation.

If you don’t think California needs more lobbyists, we’re sorry. But if you like infill development, you’re welcome.

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