This email contains current updates as well as prior updates to create a layered timeline of Housing Element activity. The most recent update by date is included at the top.
Update from September 18, 2023:
Residents are encouraged to participate in the September 20 Regular City Council Meeting (6 pm). At the meeting, the Council will consider a few additions to the Town's CEQA review for the Housing Element. In July, the Council added 4 properties - 999 Ringwood, 352 Bay, 318 Bay, and 296 Bay. These properties had been previously considered. However, the Council also opted to consider 3 properties on Ravenswood - 175, 185, and 197 as well as properties within the Park and Open Space Zone (to be considered for small-scale workforce housing). These additional properties (Ravenswood and Park and Open Space Zones) had not previously been considered; so on September 20, the Council will consider them for final additions to the CEQA review.
At the September 20 meeting, the Council will also consider providing direction to staff regarding engagement of a marketing team, a lobbyist, and a financial feasibility consultant to assist the Town in moving forward with its Housing Element.
Work on the Town's Housing Element continues as the Planning Team works to prepare preliminary drafts of Objective Design Standards for review by the Planning Commission and community. These will be making their way forward through a community workshop, Planning Commission meeting, and ultimately the City Council for review and approval. The Planning Team is also working to complete revisions to the Town's Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance, Inclusionary Ordinance, and initial phases of CEQA Review. All of these preliminary drafts will make their way through the public process ultimately to be finalized by the City Council. The overall target is to complete an update to the Town's 6th Cycle Housing Element in response to the State's comments in April 2023 for resubmission by the end of this year.
Here is a link to the September 20, 2023 HTML Agenda.
Update from July 12, 2023:
Residents are encouraged to participate in the July 19 Regular City Council Meeting (6 pm). At the meeting, the Council will consider the CEQA Project Description and could add policies or properties for additional analysis in order to meet the State's mandates for affordable housing solutions. NOTE: Including the policies or properties as part of the CEQA Project Analysis does not mean inclusion in the Housing Element. As was noted in the June 23 Monthly Matters, as the Council finalizes the Housing Element's CEQA Project Description, any additional policy or site options (such as sites for affordable housing solutions) need to be included in the CEQA review - even if they are not ultimately selected for inclusion in the Housing Element as a local solution. CEQA will help the Council and community better understand potential impacts, such as infrastructure, traffic, density, etc. All things that we cannot answer at this time.
The current Housing Element relies heavily on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and multi-family solutions at Menlo College, Menlo School, and 23 Oakwood to meet the State's mandates. However, the most recent letter from the State (April 2023), advised that the solutions proposed may not be sufficient to satisfy the State's requirements, particularly at the Very Low and Low Income housing categories. If the Council deems it necessary to expand those solutions based on State feedback, the July 19 meeting is the opportunity to add additional solutions for environmental review. It is important to note again that including a potential affordable housing solution (policy or property) in the CEQA Project Description does not necessarily mean that that solution will ultimately be included in the Housing Element that is resubmitted to the State. CEQA provides the Council and community with environmental and feasibility analyses that can be used to narrow down options for inclusion. The goal is to include enough properties in the review to have some options and then to narrow down the list to 2-3 properties, if needed to include in the Housing Element.
The Council and community have been discussing numerous properties for potential inclusion in the Housing Element as part of multi-family solutions. These include, but are not limited to, properties along El Camino Real (1 lot in that front to or back up to ECR), a property on Polhemus, a property on Santiago/Valparaiso, properties on Bay Road, and the Gilmore House in the Park. As has been noted before, over time and based on community feedback, the Council pulled back to focus solely on ADUs, Menlo College, Menlo School and 23 Oakwood. This was with the caveat that while the Town will attempt to gain compliance with that solution, the State may reject it and the Town could be forced to return to the drawing board and reconsider properties that had been set aside or identify other solutions.
The Town is continuing to push forward with ADUs as the highest and best solution in Town and there is a survey (see below) that you can complete to assist us in getting data to the State. But, based on State feedback, staff is advising the Council that we may need to consider other affordable housing solutions. Including options in the CEQA analysis will allow the Council and community to make more informed decisions about whether a property could or should be considered.
Update from June 22, 2023:
Residents are encouraged to participate in the latest round of Housing Element Updates by watching the June 19, 2023 Community Workshop and participating in two open community surveys. The workshop focused on the State's AFFH requirements and how they relate to the Town and its affordable housing strategies - to include any potential for multi-family. Feedback from this Workshop will feed into the City Council's Regular Meeting on July 19 at which the Council must clearly define the required Project Description for the purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of the Town's Housing Element.
June 19, 2023 Community Workshop Materials:
Please fill out the following surveys to help the Town with the Housing Element update.
Update from June 12, 2023:
After the Town certified, adopted and submitted its 6th Cycle Housing Element to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), initial comments were received on April 4, 2023 - here is a link to the letter received from HCD. A Report was presented to the City Council at their May 17 Regular Meeting (Link to Report) outlining HCD's feedback and recommendations.
HCD's comments require the Town to provide further analysis of the following:
- How will the Town address the needs of Extremely Low-Income (ELI) households and Special Needs Populations?
- How will the Town mitigate Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) issues including fair housing, capacity, inventory, and other contributing factors?
- The Town must expand the discussion of housing needs to include specific quantitative data related to income level.
- The Town must further analyze identified SB 9 sites to ensure that the unit yield predicted will achieve the Town's Regional Housing Needs Analysis (RHNA) Goals.
- The Town must further analyze sites and strategies to determine if the overall site inventory meets the Town's RHNA Goals - including capacity, small and large sites, zoning for lower-income households, suitability of non-vacant sites, infrastructure, and site shortfalls.
- The Town must further analyze governmental and non-governmental constraints - local processes, ordinances, densities, and other constraints.
- The Town must assess its multi-family strategy to ensure that it meets the requirements of State law.
- The Town must address HCD's concerns related to its Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) strategy.
On Monday, June 19, the Town's Planning Team will host an Outreach Workshop to discuss the State's AFFH requirements and how they relate to the Town and its affordable housing strategies - to include any potential for multi-family. Feedback from this Workshop will feed into the City Council's Regular Meeting on July 19 at which the Council must clearly define the required Project Description for the purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of the Town's Housing Element.
The Town's Planning Team have numerous concurrent project studies and analysis ongoing in relation to the Housing Element. These include, but are not limited to: necessary CEQA review of the Town's Housing Element; creation of Objective Design Criteria; development of Land Use Ordinances for adoption consistent with the Housing Element Policies and Programs; development of an update to the Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance for consistency with State Law and the Housing Element; and creation of an Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance. All of these studies and analysis will proceed through a public review and engagement process as they matriculate up to the Planning Commission and ultimately the City Council.
One of the key components of the Town's Housing Element is its reliance upon ADUs as a primary means of compliance at the Very Low and Low Income categories. That reliance rests on the community to commit to using ADUs as that viable solution. ADUs offer a practical solution for multi-generational families seeking additional living space. They can provide an opportunity for homeowners to downsize and/or use the ADU to generate rental income. ADUs can be used as shared family space or caretaker space at little or no cost. There are these and other habitation scenarios that exist today that will help the Town reach its State mandate.
To help with that effort, we launched an online survey to determine what's out there now. We need to determine if there are existing ADUs or Junior ADUs that are presently in use; and, if so, at what rate are they provided? If you have an ADU or JADU and have not yet responded, please do so HERE. The Survey will be up through the month of July 2023.
We do not anticipate a formal response back to HCD until the end of 2023 and after we have completed additional outreach workshops, completed CEQA, and completed various ordinance and land use revisions. 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. 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.
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Videos from Council Meetings are available here.