About Sustainable Development

Goodwin Procter's Sustainable Development blog features news and resources to help professionals navigate the rapidly evolving green building and sustainable development sectors in today's real estate market, including information on:
  • Build America Bonds (BABs)
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
  • climate change
  • infrastructure
  • LEED compliance
  • project financing
  • public-private partnerships
  • regulatory demands
  • renewable energy
  • Stimulus funds
  • sustainable financing
  • transit-oriented development
  • transportation initiatives
Please send your comments, ideas and suggestions for future topics to the editors at sustainabledevelopment@goodwinprocter.com.

About the Editors

Lewis Feldman
Lewis G. Feldman
Partner/Los Angeles Office Chair


Lew Feldman is a member of Goodwin Procter's Real Estate, REITs & Real Estate Capital Markets Group. He serves as the Chair of Goodwin Procter's Los Angeles offices and heads the firm's Public/Private Development Practice. Mr. Feldman is considered to be among the nation's leading real estate and public finance attorneys, specializing in structuring, entitling and executing large-scale financings for real estate industry participants and the public sector.

He is an active participant in many of the industry's most eminent associations and groups, including California's Coalition for Adequate School Housing, the International Council of Shopping Centers, Urban Land Institute's Public-Private Partnership Council, University of Southern California's Lusk Center for Real Estate, and the National Association of Bond Lawyers. He is a founding member of the University of California, Los Angeles' Ziman Center for Real Estate and serves on the boards of the Milken Institute California Center Advisory Council and the Los Angeles County Housing Development Corporation.

Lew works in the firm's Los Angeles office and can be reached by email or at (213) 426-2688.
Doug Praw
Douglas A. Praw
Partner


Doug Praw is a member of Goodwin Procter's Real Estate, REITs & Real Estate Capital Markets Group. He has extensive experience in a wide range of real estate and public finance matters. His expertise in public finance projects includes public infrastructure, sustainable project financing, utilities, multifamily housing projects, single-family master-planned communities and industrial projects. He has provided counsel to various sectors of the real estate industry, including developers, buyers and sellers, lenders and borrowers, underwriters and municipalities and special districts and other governmental agencies in the States of California, Nevada and New Mexico.

He is a member of the Urban Land Institute, U.S. Green Building Council – Los Angeles, National Association of Bond Lawyers and the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Doug works in the firm';s Los Angeles office and can be reached by email or at (213) 426-2664.


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New Concepts in Clean Technology

The term “clean technology” can be used to describe a wide range of infrastructural development, such as clean energy, advanced transportation, manufacturing water technology, sustainable materials and waste recycling. According to a study conducted by The Brookings Institution, California is reportedly leading in the green job sector. Efforts involving clean technology have sprouted across the state, translating into 320,000 new jobs related to the installment of solar panels, creation of electric vehicles and running organic farms.

The Report claims there is a strong correlation between the metropolitan area’s clean economic performance and the strong industry clusters within that area. For example, another report by the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), states that Los Angeles is home to the most ENERGY STAR-certified buildings in the nation, reporting “more than 30 biomass facilities (including landfills), 28 hydrogen...

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Updated Plan on LACMA Building Structure

Famed Swiss architect Peter Zumthor wasted little time in adapting his original plans for the redesign of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to address the concerns of critics. After scientists from the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits expressed apprehension over Zumthor’s original plans released last year, due to their potential impact on active research sites at the tar pits Zumthor shifted his proposed new building away from the tar pits and instead across Wilshire Boulevard. While the building as modified will preserve the free-form shape that Zumthor originally envisioned, it will now include a glass encapsulated walkway raised about 30 feet above Wilshire, allowing museum visitors to look down at the cars passing below their feet. 

The walkway will extend to land currently used as a parking lot at the southeast corner of Wilshire and Spaulding Avenue, where a wing constituting about a quarter of the building’s 410,000 square feet will reside.

Although the design is...

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California Drought

California faces a great challenge: drought.  Reservoirs across the state are at a historic low.  Wildfires have increased significantlyHome foundations are cracking because of dried soil.  And even the State’s pistachio crop is suffering, leading to increased prices for consumers.  With the difficulties mounting, California’s Governor Brown declared a drought State of Emergency this past January.

While some pray for rain, others are looking to novel, if historic, solutions.  The West Basin Municipal Water District, servicing 185-square miles in Southwest Los Angeles, constructed a pilot desalination plant.  The plant, located in Redondo Beach, employs micro-filtration and reverse osmosis and is intended to be the first step toward West Basin’s goal of producing at least 20 million gallons a day through desalination.

The pilot desalination plant is neither California’s first nor last desalination plant.  Presently construction of desalination plants has been proposed in Dana Point,...

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Los Angeles' Walkable Urbanism

A recent report ranked Los Angeles’ walkability among the thirty largest U.S. metropolitan areas.  Washington D.C., New York, and Boston topped the list, while Los Angeles landed in the middle of the pack.  Though presently ranked only 18th, Los Angeles’ walkability shows great potential.  The report, published by Smart Growth America and George Washington University, forecasts Los Angeles climbing in rank to 11th. Los Angeles’ rail and rapid transit expansion and the continued development of walkable town centers account for the city’s forecasted rise in the ranks.                            

In addition to noting Los Angeles’ potential, the report highlights the benefits of walkable urban development.  First, the report notes the existence of a positive correlation between “walkable urbanism and per capita GDP.”  The report attributes this relationship in part to another correlation: the positive correlation between walkable urbanism and higher educational attainment.  In addition to a...

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Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium Goes Green

With ribbon-cutting ceremonies scheduled for July 17th, Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium is rapidly approaching its grand unveiling. More than two years in the making, the 1.85 million square foot stadium will be the new home of the San Francisco 49ers and will host Super Bowl 50 in 2016.

Given its location in the heart of Silicon Valley, it makes sense that architecture firm HNTB designed and built the stadium with sustainability in mind. In fact, the 49ers hope that the stadium will achieve LEED Gold certification, making it one of the first NFL stadiums to do so. Levi’s Stadium incorporates a variety of “green” elements, including nearly 20,000 feet of solar panels, a 27,000 foot living roof planted with California native species, and the use of LED bulbs in 40% of the stadium’s lighting. The owner’s suites use reclaimed wood from the Moffatt Field airplane hangar and recycled materials played a large role in the stadium’s construction.  In terms of transportation, the stadium houses...

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New Measures Under California’s Uniform Limited Liability Company Act May Complicate Contracts For Real Estate Companies

On January 1, 2014, The California Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (popularly known as RULLCA; Cal. Corp. Code §§17701.01-17713.13) went into effect. RULLCA, a modified version of the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act first promulgated by the National Conference of Commissioners in 2006, was intended to bring California’s Limited Liability Company laws more in line with the Limited Liability Company (LLC) laws of other states, making it easier for multi-state businesses to operate within, and outside of California.

However, many real estate companies are confused and left in the dark on the new limitations, especially since the new law applies automatically to existing LLCs.

For example, unless a specific alternative arrangement is incorporated into the operating agreement, a default provision allows the selection or removal of a manager by a majority of the members of an LLC, irrespective of reason or timing. Regardless, if the company controls the real estate...

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Sacramento Kings Acquire Shopping Plaza in Preparation for Stadium Development

In connection with the development of a new downtown arena, the Sacramento Kings announced recently that the team had agreed to purchase the Sacramento Downtown Plaza mall, a 14 acre development occupying 6 city blocks near the proposed arena site.  The purchase facilitates the development of a 1.5 million square-foot mixed-use space which will connect to the new arena.

The seller of the mall was a joint venture between JMA Ventures LLC and a unit of Gaw Capital Partners which had purchased the mall in 2012.  After the sale closes, JMA will continue to manage the mall and will develop the proposed mixed use space which could include a hotel, apartment building, retail and office space.

The mall acquisition was announced by the team shortly before a Sacramento planning commission vote to pursue a special planning district for the stadium project.  The commission had previously voted in favor of taking such steps, but it was revealed that errors had existed in the public notices related to...

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UCLA Hosts FREE Green Building Symposium - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Our friends at the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate and the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, will co-host a Green Building Symposium on Wednesday, February 26th.  The Symposium will take place from 12:30 to 4pm on the 3rd Floor of Korn Convocation Hall on the UCLA Campus.  The event will feature a keynote address by Jeffrey Mezger, President, CEO and Director of KB Home and a panel discussion.  Admission to the symposium is free and a reception with complimentary refreshments will follow.

KEYNOTE

Jeffrey T. Mezger, President, Chief Executive Officer and Director, KB Home

MODERATOR

David Hodgins, President and CEO, Sustento Group, LCC

PANELISTS

Matthew E. Kahn, Director of Research, UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate; and Professor, UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

Daniele Horton, Founder and Principal, Verdani Partners

Peter T. Belisle II, Southwest Market Director, Jones Lange LaSalle

Adhamina Rodriguez, Director of Sustainability, Swinerton Builders

Matt...

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New York’s New Housing Marketplace Plan

Launched in 2003, by the Bloomberg administration, the New Housing Marketplace Plan set a goal for the creation and preservation of 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014.  According to a new report, through 2013, the City has succeeded in creating or preserving 160,000 such units at a total cost of $23.6 billion – the largest municipal housing effort in America’s history.

The Plan provides 500,000 New Yorkers – a community the size of Atlanta – with affordable housing.  In addition, the Plan resulted in the creation of 150,000 construction related jobs.  Through June of 2013, every dollar invested in the Plan by the City was leveraged with funding from other public and private sources.

Many of the developments created as part of the Plan are “green buildings.” Two examples are Arbor House in the South Bronx, a LEED Platinum development with a rooftop farm and Via Verde, a LEED Gold development also in the South Bronx which includes a roof-top vegetable garden and orchard.  The...

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Hollywood Community Plan rejected

On December 11, Judge Goodman issued a 41-page ruling claiming the zoning blueprints for the Hollywood Community Plan are "fatally flawed" and should be repealed. Causing a serious setback to the City’s development and growth plans, Goodman said city leaders failed to comply with state environmental law when they approved the project in June 2012.

The recent ruling could delay the approval of a revised development plan for two years.

This long debate is nothing new. From concerns over traffic and infrastructure to skyrocketing growth in population, many neighborhood groups have been resistant to the project. The city, however, views the project as a step towards "smart growth" - the practice of clustering higher density development around major transit stops. The last update to the plan came in 1988, before the arrival of the Red Line.

To read the blog mentioned above, click here.

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Bidding process for construction of Sacramento Kings stadium streamlined by City Council

On Tuesday of this week, the Sacramento City Council voted to suspend the traditional competitive bidding process for the planned construction of a new stadium for the Sacramento Kings.  The push will allow the bidding process to move forward at an accelerated pace as the team will not be required to comply with the traditional formal bidding process in place for public-private projects.

Proponents of the decision have argued that a competitive bid process will continue to exist, even in the absence of a formalized process and that the move was necessary to meet the time table for the planned construction.

“In order for the Kings to meet the aggressive schedule and to have flexibility in selecting contractors on a best value basis ... rather than on a low bid basis, staff is recommending the suspension of formal competitive bidding. Again, there will still be rigorous outreach and competitive bidding,” said Assistant City Manager, John Dangberg.

City officials further emphasized that...

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Creative financing used to structure new stadium deal for Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Cobb County, Georgia for a new stadium in the northern Atlanta suburb to be completed in time for the 2017 season.  The deal moves the Braves out of downtown Atlanta for the first time since they moved from Milwaukee in 1966.

The project, which was approved by the Cobb County Commission by a 4-1 vote, follows months of negotiation between the County and the team.

The stadium is expected to seat 41,500 at a total cost of $672 million.  Under the terms of the deal, the Braves and County will split the cost of the new stadium with the Braves spending 55% and the County 45%.  The Braves will make an initial contribution of $280 million and the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority will issue a $368 million dollar revenue bond of which the Braves will cover $92 million through income over 30 years and the County will pay the rest through tax revenue.  The County will allocate existing property, lodging, and rental...

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Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Sues to Block City of Richmond’s Condemnation of Home Loans

The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (BNY) is seeking an injunction to prevent the City of Richmond, California from using eminent domain powers to seize and refinance more than 600 home loans with outstanding balances greater than the value of the homes securing the loans.

The City of Richmond threatened to take such action in a letter sent to BNY indicating that should the parties be unable to reach a negotiated agreement, the City would consider using its eminent domain powers to condemn the loans. The City has argued that BNY should not be able to secure an injunction because the claim depends on “future events that may never occur.”

The City is seeking to take control of the mortgages from BNY in order to refinance the loans, and provide the homeowners with equity. The City believes such an approach will prevent foreclosures and resulting blight in the area. BNY argues that the City’s plan will harm investors in the loans, many of which it asserts are still preforming, and...

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Judge Kenny rejects bond sale to fund California’s high-speed rail line

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny overruled a request from the California High-Speed Rail Authority to sell $8 billion of the $10 billion in bonds approved by voters in 2008.

Kenny issued two decisions on Monday, based on findings that the project violates promises made to voters: (1) Kenny ruled that the rail authority failed to comply with the requirements under Proposition 1A  (clear necessary environmental permits and specify source of funding for the rail line); and (2) Kenny requested that the state rail agency redo its $68 billion funding plan as it is estimated to be $25 billion short of the amount needed to complete a first working section of the line.

In 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1029, which allowed the state to begin spending $2.6 billion in bonds for construction. The appropriation unlocked $3.3 billion in promised U.S funds, out of $8 billion for a high-speed passenger rail program included in President Barack Obama’s 2009...

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St. Louis commits to transit-oriented development projects

Earlier this month, St. Louis Mayor, Francis Slay, announced that St. Louis’ Affordable Housing Commission would dedicate $1 million to fund transit oriented development (TOD) in St. Louis.  In making this commitment, St. Louis joins a growing number of cities across the country committed to developing transit oriented communities.

St. Louis defines eligible locations for TOD as those within a half-mile of a light-rail stop or a “high-frequency” bus line.  The St. Louis Metro has targeted these areas in order to  promote communities with a transit station at the heart of the community, with a focus on walkability and pedestrian access.  Metro believes that these characteristics foster, healthier, more sustainable communities.

Cities across the country have been making similar commitments in recent years.  In October, the Los Angeles Business Council and Paul Habibi released “The 2013 Livable Communities Report” calling for collaboration between policy makers and developers to promote TOD...

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USGBC-NCC Launches Building Health Initiative

The U.S. Green Building Council-Northern California Chapter (USGBC-NCC), part of the organization responsible for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rankings, recently launched the Building Health Initiative. The Initiative, which is consists of 27 prominent corporations including, Adobe, CalPERS, Google, Kaiser Permanente, and salesforce.com, seeks to address the topic of green building from a health prospective.

The Initiative builds on anecdotal evidence suggesting that LEED-certified buildings improve concentration and productivity levels among people. As a part of the Initiative, Adobe will study its LEED certified workplaces to determine the correlation between employee performance and health. Other participants will engage in similar studies during the course of the Initiative.

The Initiative is part of an effort to expand the conversation surrounding green building to emphasize the impact of the built environment on human health, happiness, and performance and...

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2013 Livable Communities Study Released

On October 18, the Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) and UCLA professor, Paul Habibi, released the 2013 Livable Communities Report: A Call to Action. The report picks up from Habibi’s 2012 analysis, Building Livable Communities: Enhancing Economic Competitiveness in Los Angeles in which Habibi concludes Angelenos are generally unable to afford to live close to where they work. The new report released this year, identifies and ranks neighborhoods best suited for transit-oriented development to alleviate this problem. The report bases its ranking on six demographic and market indicators and evaluates the placement of 104 potential stations. The report includes case studies of two particularly promising locations, the areas around the Van Nuys Orange Line Station and the area surrounding the Florence/La Brea Crenshaw Station in Inglewood. The report indicates that the promising opportunities are spread throughout LA County.

In the report, Habibi calls on policy makers to support...

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AB 440: What does it all mean?

Governor Jerry Brown passes bill that renews the Polanco Redevelopment Act* to give local government the ability to clean up and develop sites that suffer from environmental contamination.

Earlier this month, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 440 (Gatto), a bill authorizing local agencies to exercise the Polanco environmental remediation powers previously enjoyed by redevelopment agencies (RDAs) prior to their termination in 2012.

Unlike RDAs which were empowered to use eminent domain powers to take control of blighted areas, under the new law, local agencies have a right of entry to such properties. However, such power extends to all blighted property within the purview of the local agencies and is not limited to the former redevelopment areas, which gives the local agencies broader jurisdictional authority. The new legislation becomes effective January 1, 2014 and will be codified as Health and Safety Code Section 25403.

AB 440 represents a significant step in regaining...

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Liverpool: Green Like LA

Liverpool is going green with the help of Los Angeles. Since the idea that sustainability hinders economic growth has been discredited, Liverpool is following patterns of sustainable development that other major cities (LA, Hamburg, New York, etc.) are following.

Several groups including the University of Liverpool and the mayor have enlisted to help with this endeavor. The new effort is titled, “Liverpool Green Partnership,” and is still in the planning stages of the new city, pending the mayor’s approval.

The Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability group is doing much to involve businesses and working to reduce the impact of climate change. Liverpool launched this project on July 25.

For more information, visit here.

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Southwest Amps up Sustainability

The Southwest is heating up in its sustainable development endeavors thanks to the USGBC.

New Mexico’s governor Susana Martinez signed SB 14 on April 1, extending the Sustainable Building Tax Credit and creating $12 million for single-family residential green construction and an additional $3 million for commercial and multifamily opportunities.

Nevada’s AB33 became a law in June, bringing back a tax incentive for all LEED-certified buildings and also for investments in retrofitting. The more efficient the building, the better the cut.

Arizona’s HB 2009, which was signed last month, offers a similar tax-related cut for LEED-certified datacenters moving into vacant buildings.

Utah’s representative Jim Matheson did much to encourage the development of high-performing schools and celebrated the 2013 Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges debut.

Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado signed SB 279 into law last month to increase energy efficiency in public schools. Also, the state...

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