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The original item was published from 5/11/2023 11:02:00 AM to 5/11/2023 11:04:06 AM.

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City Manager's Office

Posted on: May 11, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Housing Element Update - May 11, 2023

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Housing Element updateThe Town certified, adopted and submitted its Housing Element for the 2023-2031 Housing Cycle to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for its review on January 31, 2023. Comments were received from HCD on April 4, 2023 - here is a link to the letter received from HCD.  A Report will be provided to the City Council at their May 17 Regular Meeting with a review of HCD's feedback and recommendations for next steps. On May 17, the Council will also review for consideration the finalized Opportunity Site Criteria. 

HCD's letter highlights many areas that will need to be addressed by the Town as the Town seeks to revise the Housing Element for resubmission. Among the topics in the letter were:

  • requests for more analysis of the various programs and objectives from the 5th Cycle Housing Element;
  • analysis related to concentrations of race and familial status geographically within the Town as well as analyzing the differences between the Town and surrounding region;
  • analysis related to local unique attributes that impact the Town's ability to provide fair housing;
  • analysis related to extremely-low income households and an examination of their tenure (renters and owners);
  • an evaluation of sites identified as developable and their capacity for development of low income housing;
  • demonstrate zoning that accommodates housing for lower income households in sufficient number to meet the State mandate;
  • list all identified SB 9 sites and demonstrate the likelihood of redevelopment, including a demonstration of interest from the property owners;
  • reconcile ADU trends with HCD records;
  • analyze and demonstrate realistic opportunities for multi-family zoning development;
  • identify actions to be taken to facilitate and encourage the development of a variety of housing types for all income levels, including multi-family rental housing, factory built housing, mobile homes, etc. 

Over the next several 6-8 months, the Town will be working to address the issues raised and ensure that the Town's Housing Element is comprehensive enough to meet the State's requirements. The Town has initiated the required California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review process for the Housing Element and soon will begin steps toward development of the policy objectives set forth in the Housing Element. These include development of Objective Design Standards, Updates to the Town's Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance, creation of an Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance and Development Fee, and updates to the Town's Land Use and Zoning to ensure consistency with the Housing Element Policies and Objectives. All of these efforts will involve a public process via community workshops, Public Hearings, and review by the Planning Commission prior to submission to the City Council for consideration. This work will be concurrent with the Town's CEQA review and review of revisions to the Housing Element for the next submittal to the State. To stay abreast of these meetings and issues, please be sure to sign up for the Town's News Flashes and Public Notices and watch the Agendas and Minutes page for meeting information.  

On May 3, the City Council hosted a Joint public meeting with the Planning Commission to begin discussions around revisions to the Town's ADU Ordinance. This meeting was a continuation of the Planning Commission's Public Engagement meeting hosted in January where there were numerous public comments and suggestions received. These comments and suggestions were incorporated into a Report to the City Council and Planning Commission at the May 3 meeting. At the May 3 meeting, there were numerous public in attendance that provided additional feedback as the Council and Commission moved through some of the ADU material. However, the meeting did not provide sufficient time to move through all of the materials and provide sufficient feedback to staff so the Council continued the meeting to May 10 at 4 pm. Staff polled the members to ensure that there would be a quorum on May 10 to host the meeting. Staff also asked that the members of the Council and Commission individually provide staff with policy questions that would assist staff in framing the discussion on May 10 so that the group could move through the material and provide policy feedback.  

On May 10, the City Council hosted the continued public meeting with the Planning Commission. At the meeting, staff moved through a series of 43 policy questions (linked HERE). Staff also provided the Council and Commission links to relevant sections of California Law - Government Code Section 65852.2 ADUs and Section 65852.22 Junior ADU Efficiency Kitchens. Once staff is able to process the meeting video, it will be available online HERE. The Council and Commission moved efficiently through the 43 policy questions. Key areas of feedback included: 

  • Limitations on ADU Size (the State maximum is 1,200 square feet)
  • Consideration of Deed Restrictions (for 2+ acre parcels with a 2nd ADU)
  • Development of objective standards, to include higher fence heights and ingress/egress preferences
  • Streamlining the permit process as well as fee reductions
  • Eliminating or reducing some requirements for tree protection and/or removal
  • Using State definitions for kitchens (less restrictive) but providing examples of kitchen expectations
  • Parking requirements (State limits)
  • Height requirements (State limits)  

The next stop for the draft ADU Ordinance is for staff to consolidate the feedback, craft an ordinance(s) to incorporate the feedback and then return the entire discussion back to the Planning Commission for further public input and direction. Following those public meeting(s), the Commission is expected to recommend consideration of the changes to the City Council who will then conduct a series of further public meetings for input before taking action on any ordinance. Once the Ordinance is formally introduced for its 1st Reading at a Public Hearing, it then must go to a 2nd Meeting for 2nd Reading and Adoption and then would be effective 30-days later. This entire public process of 4-5+ public meeting is anticipated to conclude sometime in mid-Fall. The ADU Ordinance is one component of a host of other requirements, ordinances, policies, and housing element items that will be making their way through the public engagement process over the next 6-8 months through open and noticed public meetings.     

For more than two years, the stakeholders, community, and Town officials have been engaged in a planning and public engagement process for the 6th Cycle Housing Element. That process will continue for the better part of 2023 as we seek to develop a Housing Element that meets the Town's assigned RHNA of 348 new housing units across all income levels over an 8-year period. To that end, I encourage you to subscribe to Town notifications and regularly check the Town's Agendas/Minutes website to review Council and Commission Agenda packet materials. While there will also be a few specific public engagement workshops over the next 6-8 months, many of the Regular Meetings and Special Meetings of the Council and Commission will include some facet of housing discussion. 

The City Council meets regularly on the 1st Wednesday of each month at 4 pm for a Study Session and on the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 6 pm for a Regular Meeting. The Planning Commission meets regularly on the 4th Wednesday of each month at 6 pm. 

To stay engaged on Town topics and issues, sign up for the Town's E-News here. Comments may be sent to council@ci.atherton.ca.us.

Website Resources:

Videos from Council Meetings are available here

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