Oct 17 2010

City Council to Consider State Requirements for Housing Element

On Monday, October 11, 2010 Piedmont’s Planning Commission considered the October 7  response letter from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to the City’s second version of its draft 2010 General Plan Housing Element. Piedmont’s first 2010 Housing Element draft was submitted on March 26 and not approved on May 25. The Planning Commission has forwarded the matter to the Piedmont City Council.

The City Council will take up the matter on Monday, October 18, 2010. The State has requested further alterations to the picturesque Piedmont Draft Housing Element before it is resubmitted to HCD “to be reviewed on an informal ‘ad hoc’ basis” according to the October 18, 2010 Council staff report. The HCD reviewer has suggested that the City send proposed revisions to the State in the next few weeks, and has promised a quick turn-around to indicate whether the changes are satisfactory. Additional minor edits will be made as needed through this process.  Once the State has determined that the edits are satisfactory, it will issue a “precertification letter” to the City.  At that time, the Housing Element will be brought back to the City Council for adoption.  The full  October 18  staff report to the City Council can be found here.

Among the further changes suggested “[t]he State would like the City to add an action program to monitor the effects of the Piedmont City Charter on the cost and supply of multi-family housing, and to commit to taking action in the event the Charter is determined to be a constraint in the future.”   The full text of HCD’s  October 7 letter can be read here.

As for another HCD request, that Piedmont eliminate single-family use from one entire Piedmont zone to encourage the development of multi-family housing within the zone, Charter language states that such an action would require approval by a public vote.  The language of the City Charter that discusses the zoning system reads in part:

The Council may classify and reclassify the zones established, but no existing zones shall be reduced or enlarged with respect to size or area, and no zones shall be reclassified without submitting the question to a vote at a general or special election.  (Section 9.02 of the Charter of the City of Piedmont, (As Amended March 2008))

During the past year of Housing Element reviews, all the cities in some California counties (Calaveras, Del Norte, Glenn, Imperial, Inyo, Kings, Nevada, Yolo) were quickly approved. While a number of small affluent cities (Lafayette, Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Palm Desert, Del Mar, Woodside, Santa Barbara, Los Altos, Ross, San Marino) are “out of compliance” because the State has rejected their Housing Elements. Some very expensive communities (Saratoga, Dana Point, Belvedere) with lower densities than Piedmont found successful strategies for quick approval. Menlo Park has submitted nothing to the State since 1992.  Interestingly enough because Piedmont had its Housing Element approved in 2002 and has submitted draft Housing Element in 2010, the City finds itself categorized by HCD as “out of compliance”  while Menlo Park is in the “due” category.

Leave a Comment