Land Use (News)
PLEASANTON -- Pleasanton officials want residents to help plan for nearly 2,000 new homes in town, with 80 percent or more for either low- or very low income households.
As part of a court settlement with Urban Habitat -- an organization that won a suit challenging the city's voter-approved housing cap limiting the number of homes here to 29,000 -- the city agreed to provide a housing plan update to the state by August. The update includes plans to accommodate 1,992 new units, of which 1,661 must be income-restricted.
In Alameda and Contra Costa counties, low-income housing is designated for families with a maximum annual income of a $72,240 for a family of four; families making up to $45,150 qualify as very low income.
If the city fails to meet is Aug. 16 deadline, it could face additional sanctions from the court, including loss of its power to issue building permits and to zone property.
The city established a housing element update task force in October. Over the past four months, it has developed a citywide list of 17 potential sites, with a combined 108 acres of land that could accommodate at least 30 housing units per acre. The city estimates it would have to rezone 70 acres to meet its requirement.
East Palo Alto is moving forward with a long-term strategic planning process that officials hope will bring new money and new life into the city. But it’s not just bureaucrats who are doing the heavy lifting.
Annie Loya, an outspoken 26-year-old native of East Palo Alto, was instrumental in drawing the land-use map that will anchor a specific plan for the city. In a two-year process that paralleled the city’s own, she solicited community input on the map and ultimately advocated for a version that would provide jobs appropriate to community residents; zone for open, civic and mixed-use space; and lay the groundwork for the creation of a new downtown.
Loya, as head of the group Youth United for Community Action, has stepped up in recent years to pester officials on some of the touchiest issues the city faces. She doesn’t shy away from terms like “environmental racism”; nor does she worry about acting the part of the “lobbyist,” which — though it’s not how she’d describe herself — essentially summarizes her job description.
“Happy New Year, everyone!” Loya crooned recently, in a high, sing-songy pitch, hoop earrings swaying as she approached a podium to face East Palo Alto’s planning commissioners. She wore high heels and black stretch pants. “Um, so as you guys know, um, I’m part of a collaboration called Envision, Transform and Build East Palo Alto…”
The Pleasanton City Council Tuesday approved land use changes in Hacienda Business Park that will allow for construction of a high-density, 840-unit housing project with half the units to serve those with low-to moderate incomes.
The complex of two and three story buildings will be constructed on 32 acres of still-vacant land owned by W.P. Carey, Roche and BRE. The three sites are located along Hacienda, Gibraltar and Owens drives close to the Pleasanton BART station with nearby access to I-580.
The council's rezoning of the properties came in response to a ruling by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch last August in favor of suits brought by Urban Habitat and then state Attorney General Jerry Brown. Roesch declared the city's 29,000unit housing cap approved by voters in 1996 in violation of state mandates for affordable and market rate housing requirements imposed by the Bay area Association of Governments. In addition to scuttling the cap, he ordered Pleasanton to come up with a plan to meet its current housing numbers requirements by March 1, and to add another 1,400 units by2014.
HUD has administered the planned obsolescence of public housing for well over 15 years. According to HUD, 150,000 units have been lost to demolition and disposition, although the number of lost units is probably closer to 280,000 if taken from the Millennial Housing Report and Ways and Means Committee’s Green Book. There are also an estimated $20-30 billion in maintenance backlogs. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan argues that things have gotten so bad that we must open up public housing to private capital or “lose these irreplaceable resources forever.” (Click here to read this article on the Huffington Post.)
The pivotal decisions by Congress to cut annual appropriations for the Public Housing Capital Fund and to lift one-for-one replacement for any public housing unit lost to demolition or disposition were neither necessary nor inevitable. They were politically, not economically, determined. Other choices could have been made. For instance, George Romney, HUD Secretary under President Nixon, suggested that, if necessary, money for public housing should come from reforms to Mortgage Interest Deductions, a reasonable alternative considering 75 percent of this expenditure benefits homeowners earning more than $100,000 a year.