LocationAlhambra , CA
The Alhambra Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the City Council adopt an affordable housing ordinance at a special meeting this week. Although the council will decide the details of the inclusionary housing ordinance, as the measure is called, as part of the city’s overall zoning ordinance, the commission’s specific recommendations push this long-delayed measure forward.
The City Council created the framework for an affordable housing ordinance in February after Marc Castagnola, the city’s director of community development, provided examples of other cities’ affordable housing laws and explained state regulations. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the presentation of the framework to the Planning Commission until July although the City Council had been pressing for action.
The commission began detailed discussion of the draft ordinance August 17, going line by line to address considerable public comment, commission members’ concerns and specific recommendations for changes. This week’s meeting finished the process and, among other changes, lowered the applicability of the proposed ordinance on projects from 10 to five units.
Hanging over the discussion was the applicability of the affordable housing ordinance to The Villages, a proposed 1,061-unit development at Fremont Avenue and Mission Road, requiring the developers to set aside at least 15 percent of the units for low- and moderate-income housing. At this point, the developers have offered to set aside 10 percent of the rental units for moderate-income housing.
If the Planning Commission approves The Villages project before the City Council acts and the new ordinance is in force, the new ordinance will not apply. If the City Council acts first, however, the ordinance will apply.
The Planning Commission will take up The Villages project at a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31, but could defer a decision. The City Council meets again in mid-September, and the ordinance would come into effect 30 days after its adoption.
The Planning Commission recommended that the affordable housing ordinance apply retroactively to all projects awaiting approval unless they had been given some kind of acceptance or pass by the commission, but this issue will get City Council review when the ordinance is discussed there.
The city’s planning staff has asked the commission to make a decision on The Villages project soon since it has been through various stages of review since 2017.
Commission president Allan Sanchez resigned Wednesday, citing personal reasons, and did not participate in the meeting.