Jun 19 2022

OPINION: More Work Needed by Council on Housing Element

“Embracing SB9 is a more realistic and sensible approach than envisioning multi-unit dwellings in church parking lots, City Center, 801 Magnolia Avenue next to the new pool, or the Highland Avenue median, as now included in the draft HE before you.”

Letter sent to the Piedmont City Council:
June 15, 2022
Re: June 20 Housing Element Hearing
Dear Mayor King and Council,
At the last Planning Commission meeting concerning the Housing Element (“HE”) draft, Kathryn Slama of Lisa Wise consulting was asking about the potential of satisfying Piedmont’s RHNA (Regional Housing Need Allocation) by the potential of SB9.  Her response was that the State only allows numbers based on past production.  Planning Director Kevin Jackson repeated this information June 7, 2022: “Where SB9 is concerned, the State will only allow a jurisdiction to project future housing development at the current rate of production.” This production answer is contrary to published HCD (California Department of Housing and Community Development ) SB9 guidelines.
Attached is the HCD SB9 March 2022 Fact Sheet, and kindly view the bottom of page 6 “HOUSING ELEMENT LAW: To utilize projections (italics added) based on SB9 toward a jurisdiction’s regional housing need allocation (RHNA). . .”  HCD then lists four elements needed in a Housing Element to have projections count towards a RHNA reductions: site specific inventory, undeveloped site analysis, identify government restrain and show policies that establish zoning standards early in the process. All are well within the ability of the consultants to include in the draft Housing Element.  Explicitly,  HCD has stated a process for potential housing under SB9 to be used to partially satisfy Piedmont’s RHNA. Other Cities such as affluent Atherton are including this element.
For Piedmont, a fundamental positive aspect of embracing SB9 is that new small sized homes still require Piedmont’s thoughtful and neighbor involved design review. Embracing SB9 is a more realistic and sensible approach than envisioning multi-unit dwellings in church parking lots, City Center, 801 Magnolia Avenue next to the new pool or the Highland Avenue median as now included in the draft HE before you.
Finally, the HCD time frame includes minimally two examination and revision phases and further phases are permitted. There is no downside by including SB9 projections, as HCD can simply ask for further analysis if needed.
Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident

June 20, 2022 Council Agenda >  62022 Council Agenda

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

One Response to “OPINION: More Work Needed by Council on Housing Element”

  1. This is how easy it would be for the City of Piedmont to prepare a SB 9 housing projection. From the Atherton 2023-2031 June 2022 draft Housing Element:

    “This projected interest in pursuing SB 9 projects in Atherton has been borne out in the first few months of the law’s applicability. During the first four months of calendar year 2022 Atherton received four applications for SB 9 subdivisions that would result in a total of 7 net new dwelling units as listed in Table HE-13

    During the same period the Town Staff has had discussions with three additional property owners about potential applications in the earlier exploratory stages that would result in another 6 net new dwelling units. All of these SB 9 units would be in the above moderate-income category. Assuming this trend continues, Atherton should receive applications resulting in an average of 9 to 32 net new dwelling units per year in the future. Projecting forward, as awareness around SB 9 increases, the Town reasonably expects the number of such applications to increase in kind.

    Atherton conservatively projects an average of ten net new dwelling units per year will result from SB 9 property divisions and construction of two homes on a single parcel. Therefore, over the 2023-2031 RHNA cycle a total of 80 net new homes are forecasted to be constructed in Atherton as a result of SB 9. All of these are projected to be in the above moderate- income category.”

    It’s fair to assume that some of Piedmont’s SB 9 units will be moderate income and were staff to estimate these in the HE many of the civic sites would not need to be considered. Staff should disclose how many inquiries it has received about SB 9 projects.

    The HE also fails to properly estimate ADU. One of the biggest sources of very low income units in the next cycle could be conversion of garages to ADU. The HE proposes to allow garages to be built to 24 feet if the unit is rented to very low income tenants for 10 years. The city likely has a record of inquiries about garage conversions and using the current rate of very low income ADU production (10%) could estimate very low income units for the next cycle.

    In the end,it would be better for the City to include these SB 9 and ADU growth estimates in the 2023 HE. It’s remarkable that the City will pay consultant costs of $1M and not have theses estimates included. HCD can always remove them later.

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