Planning Commission Holds Second Public Hearing on Housing Opportunity Sites

Posted on April 13, 2022
Planning Commission Holds Second Public Hearing on Housing Opportunity Sites
Director of Planning and Building Services Greg Wolff discusses RHNA numbers if the northern portion of Plots 1, 3 and 5 are reclassified to 50 dwelling units per acre. Picture provided

In a second Planning Commission public hearing on April 4 regarding potential opportunity sites identified in Lafayette that would meet the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) of 2,114 housing units plus a buffer, the commissioners ended with a recommendation to staff that included property on the BART parking lots, but left out land on the Deer Hill Road corridor and the DeSilva property across from the Oakwood Athletic Club (DeSilva South).

According to the staff report presented by Director of Planning Greg Wolff, Senior Planner Renata Robles and Housing Consultant Diana Elrod, the RHNA process is a requirement for all jurisdictions to plan for future housing needs, ensuring that that development can take place, if an owner or developer wishes. for. However, it is not a mandate for the jurisdictions to actually build the units. “State law requires that the housing unit contain a site-by-site inventory of land suitable for development of all types of housing, referred to as ‘opportunity sites.'”

There are 10 areas where environmental impacts have been assessed as part of the Environmental Impact Report and the Commission needed to identify sufficient area at appropriate densities to accommodate 2,114 housing units, plus a buffer zone. Senior Planner Renata Robles explained at the initial Planning Commission meeting on March 21 that there are limits on the size of plots that are important to meet the city’s RHNA allocation and require income categories. specific and proximity to access to public transportation and goods and services.

The Planning Commission reviewed five scenarios developed by staff following recommendations made by the Master Plan Advisory Committee. GPAC, chaired by Jim Cervantes and Vice President Matt Pease, has spent the past year and a half working extensively with the community to identify sites of opportunity to meet the demands of the 6th cycle, which begins on January 1, 2023 and ends. in 2031.

Planning Commission Chair Anna Radonich began the April 4 discussion by focusing on the three areas that would have the greatest impact on the city’s RHNA allocation – the Deer Hill Corridor, BART and DeSilva. South – and asked if each commissioner supported including these locations in their recommendation. Radonich, Commissioners Farschad Farzan, Gary Huisingh, Karen Maggio, Gregory Mason and Kristina Sturm all supported the inclusion of BART properties, and all accepted the GPAC’s recommendation to exclude the area along the Deer Hill Road corridor, in due to the fact that it culminates in single family homes and would still require rezoning in other areas to achieve the desired number of units. Huisingh and Mason said they were set to support development on the DeSilva property, while the others did not support it, citing the fact that the property is not near public transit or amenities. goods and services, and reduce open space. Vice President Stephen LaBonge was absent.

During the discussion, Sturm asked Wolff if the northern portion of the downtown parcels (Zones 1, 3, and 5) that adjoin Highway 24 could be cut out and zoned at a higher density. Sturm suggested that increasing the density to 45 or 50 housing units per acre from the current 35 du/ac would provide a way for the city to meet its increased housing needs without affecting the appearance of the corridor of the downtown, or need to include changes to the Deer Hill Road Corridor or DeSilva properties.

Wolff agreed that might be an option.

Commissioners also discussed the possibility of increasing the density of the BART parking area from 75 du/ac to 80 du/ac, with the possibility of mixed-use construction.

Housing consultant Diana Elrod, who has worked with the state Department of Housing and Community Development on previous cycles of the housing element, expressed concern that the buffer for very low-cost housing income and low income was not high enough. “I don’t want the city to be forced to rezone or come into compliance eight years from now. The council has always budgeted conservatively, and we’re approaching [the Housing Element] in the same vein,” said Elrod, who noted that the final decision rests with the commissioners and the city.

Commissioners voted unanimously to recommend that staff not zone Zone 8 North of Deer Hill, not zone the DeSilva property south (while maintaining the zoning of DeSilva North at 35 du/ ac), Areas 1, 3 and 5 which must be north near Hwy 24 at 50 du/ac and area BART properties above 80 du/ac, with the understanding that staff will review the settings to ensure that the buffer zone is high enough. Staff will return to the Planning Commission on April 18 to review a full draft of the housing component before a final vote to forward the HE draft to City Council for consideration at its May 9 and May 23 meetings.

The entire meeting is visible on the YouTube channel of the city of Lafayette: