Real Estate newsletter: California eyes big housing changes

Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter. Although the housing market slows around the holidays, California officials are busy as ever, introducing proposals that would send ripples through L.A. County communities.

The first comes from state Assembly member Cristina Garcia, who plans to introduce legislation that would block freeway expansions in underserved communities across California. Highway construction has a history of causing racial and health disparities, and Garcia said the impetus for the legislation was a Times investigation that examined the effects of freeway construction over the last 30 years.

The second comes from Martha Guzman Acevez, a member of the California Public Utilities Commission, who wants to slash payments for rooftop solar power. Her goal is to encourage solar customers to add battery storage systems that would bank clean energy after dark, thus reducing demand for fossil fuels, but solar executives are saying the plan would backfire and impede California’s climate goals.

A third proposal comes from a coalition of housing advocates and labor unions, which is collecting signatures for a ballot measure on taxing luxury real estate transactions to fund permanent housing for homeless people. If passed, the measure would add a 4% tax on property sales above $5 million, meaning a buyer or seller would owe at least $200,000.

On the celebrity side, this week also saw a modern beach house rise from the ashes of Suzanne Somers’ burned-down home in Malibu. After a fire destroyed the “Three’s Company” star’s cottage in 2007, the actress sold the land for $12 million, and a developer is now asking $40 million for the newly built home.

In Hollywood Hills, NBA veteran Chandler Parsons got $8 million for his modern spot above the Sunset Strip, or $1.225 million more than he paid for it in 2019. Parsons, who last played for the Atlanta Hawks, still owns a concrete-clad compound in Malibu that he bought for $9.25 million from “CSI” creator Anthony Zuiker.

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Proposed law would limit freeway expansion

California Assembly member Cristina Garcia

California Assembly member Cristina Garcia talks during a news conference in March in South Gate.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A state lawmaker from Los Angeles County plans to introduce legislation that would block freeway expansions in underserved communities across California, write Liam Dillon and Ben Poston.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) said her bill would prohibit the state from funding or permitting highway projects in areas with high rates of pollution and poverty and where residents have suffered negative health effects from living near freeways.

She said state leaders should consider the significant evidence of racial and health disparities caused by highway construction as well as research showing that freeway widenings frequently fail to resolve traffic congestion because they induce more car trips.

“If we have the data and we have the research and we’re ignoring it, that’s when it starts to become criminal when you’re in a position of power,” Garcia said.

Solar incentives could change

Four men work on a solar-panel project at a home in Watts.

David Andrade, top left, Juan Alcantara, top right, Lee Kwok, bottom left, and Darean Nguyen of Grid Alternatives, a nonprofit, install solar panels at a low-income home in Watts in June.

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

California officials want to slash payments for rooftop solar power, saying the changes would help the state achieve 100% clean energy while keeping the lights on, preventing electricity rates from rising and encouraging people to install batteries, writes Sammy Roth.

But solar executives are furious with the changes, saying they would backfire and crater a thriving industry.

The proposal from Martha Guzman Aceves, one of five members of the California Public Utilities Commission, would revamp an incentive program called net energy metering that has helped the state become a national solar power leader, with more than 1.3 million rooftop and other small-scale systems installed. The solar industry and climate change advocacy groups are lobbying Gov. Gavin Newsom and his appointees on the utilities commission to keep the program’s basic tenets unchanged.

Advocates aim to tax luxury real estate deals

In an ambitious effort to address the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, a coalition of housing advocates, labor unions and progressive activist groups planned to file paperwork Thursday for a ballot measure that would increase taxes on real estate transactions in the city to fund permanent housing for homeless people, writes Benjamin Oreskes.

The organizers hope to collect nearly 65,000 signatures by the spring to place the tax proposal on the November 2022 ballot.

The measure, if passed, would levy a 4% tax on property sales above $5 million and then rise to 5.5% on transactions above $10 million. The buyer or seller would owe $200,000 on a $5-million sale, for example.

Burned beach house finds new life

A two-story home overlooks the ocean.

Built in 2021, the two-story home in Malibu overlooks the ocean from a patio with a pool and a rooftop deck with a hot tub.

(Marcelo Lagos and Simon Berlyn)

In 2007, a fire destroyed four homes in Malibu, including the oceanfront cottage of “Three’s Company” star Suzanne Somers. After the beach house burned down, Somers left the land empty and eventually sold the two side-by-side lots for a combined $12.03 million in 2016.

Developers spent the last few years building a sleek, custom home on the double-lot property, and it just surfaced for sale at $40 million.

It will be one of city’s priciest sales of the year if it gets anywhere close to $40 million, but in a year when Malibu redefined the ceiling of the Southern California real estate market, anything is possible. In October, billionaire venture capitalist Marc Andreessen paid a California-record $177 million for a coastal compound on seven acres just a few miles west.

Somers’ former estate is a bit smaller, with the two lots combining for about a third of an acre, but still features 100 feet of beach frontage. Supported by 27 caissons that run 60 feet deep, the two-story home hovers just above the water with multiple decks overlooking the ocean.

NBA vet passes home

A three-story home.

Built in 2018, the three-story home perched above the Sunset Strip ascends to multiple decks overlooking the city.

(Aaron Hoffman)

Two years after scooping up a modern spot in Hollywood Hills, NBA veteran Chandler Parsons has sold it for $8 million.

That’s well-short of the $10.9 million he was asking in January but still $1.225 million more than what he paid in 2019. It was one of two homes he picked up that year; weeks earlier, he dropped $9.25 million on a concrete-clad compound in Malibu owned by “CSI” creator Anthony Zuiker.

Perched above the Sunset Strip, the contemporary home was built in 2018, and Parsons kept things pretty much the same. He made no changes to the living spaces, but managed to cover the back patio in turf and add two wood decks that take in sweeping city views.

What we’re reading

As Christmas approaches, one town is having a mini real estate boom: Santa Claus, Ind. The New York Times says people are flocking to “America’s Christmas Hometown” for a variety of reasons including small-town appeal, low taxes and the lack of judgment upon those who like to celebrate the holiday all year long.

Orange County is behind on its goal of creating 2,700 units of housing for homeless people, but this week, county officials gave their full support to converting rundown motels into housing. They’re currently trying to use grants to convert three motels in Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and Stanton for the initiative. Voice of OC has the story.