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City Council Adopts Affordable Housing Law

Screen capture of the City Council meeting on Sept. 28.


Alhambra , CA

Alhambra’s City Council passed the hard-fought affordable housing ordinance with virtually no fanfare this week. The battlegrounds for the new law, the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, had been weeks of Planning Commission meetings.

Monday’s agenda included 30 items, and the last was the adoption of the affordable housing regulations as part of the “consent agenda.” The meeting served as the second reading of the ordinance, as required by law. It will go into effect 40 days from Sept. 28.

The affordable housing ordinance boils down to requiring developers to designate 15 percent of the built units as affordable. For example, a 7-unit project would require one affordable unit.

The first reading of the ordinance came at the last council meeting, Sept. 14, where Marc Castagnola, Alhambra’s Community Development director, explained the Planning Commission’s recommended changes to the original ordinance proposed by the council.

The council agreed with the commission’s recommendation to reduce the number of units which requires a development’s inclusion in the affordable housing ordinance. Developments with five or six units are required to pay a yet-to-be-determined fee to a housing trust fund in place of low-rent units. Developments of seven or more are required to build affordable units, either on- or off-site, pay a fee in-lieu of building the number of required units or donate land.

The council also accepted the Planning Commission recommendation to exempt housing projects approved prior to the ordinance taking effect if they had Planning Commission approval.

The council had also agreed to broaden the allowable uses of the housing trust fund.

The Planning Commission’s July 16 agenda has the original framework from City Council.

The only Planning Commission recommendation at which some council members balked during the first reading was the in-lieu fee triggering at 5- or 6-unit developments, arguing that some developers might not want to build with a high fee. Councilman Jeff Maloney strongly argued for the lowest unit trigger to build the trust fund because most housing projects in Alhambra are smaller.

Castagnola assured the council that they can negotiate the fee schedule once the analysis is complete in four weeks. The contract for analysis was awarded to Keyser Marston Associates. The council will most likely solidify an in-lieu fee agreement at their Oct. 26 meeting.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 12.

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