So says Scott Raty, president and CEO of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce: "This year, we're going to see continued pressure from the state for local municipalities to meet housing objectives that are statewide."
Pleasanton offers a good example of what state mandates mean for a city.
Over the last three years, high-density apartment complexes have been built on some of the 70 acres the council rezoned to meet numbers imposed by the state's Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) and requirements by a Superior Court judge and state housing authorities.
That followed a lawsuit the city lost to an Oakland-based affordable housing coalition over a 1996 voter-approved 29,000 housing cap which, the court ruled, discriminated against those who want to live here but can't find affordable housing.
Now, Raty points out, the housing issue -- at least as far as Pleasanton is concerned -- has moved out of the courtroom and to Sacramento.
In an attempt to address the state's housing shortage, lawmakers introduced more than 130 bills during the 2017 legislative session, with many focused on constraining local land-use authority or eliminating local discretion.
A total of 15 bills made it into the "housing package" and were signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Among these is a $4 billion general obligation bond on the November ballot that would fund so-called workforce (affordable) housing. Another would impose new, onerous real estate recording fees on a permanent, ongoing basis. It's projected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually for affordable housing.
Although most of this money won't do much to make housing more affordable, the legislation now on the books includes measures to force cities like Pleasanton to make land available for more high-density housing.
Legislation (Senate Bill 35) by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) provides the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) new broad authority to make sure cities meet their "fair share" affordable housing requirements. It also requires that developers pay prevailing (union) wages.
"SB 35 shuts down critical local input on housing and its effects on local communities, and unnecessarily adds to the cost of housing with rigid state mandates," said Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon).
Raty believes Pleasanton should lock up available residential land with acceptable zoning and development plans before RHNA requirements take hold.
That includes the East Side, where three years ago the City Council halted a task force's planning for this largely empty 400-acre site that, if developed, could have included more than 800 homes.
Since then, developer Steve Dunn of SteelWave has met with Alameda County authorities on his plan to build 200 homes on the unincorporated part of that site. That could encourage the state's HCD to add the rest of the East Side to its list of new housing mandates for Pleasanton.
Although a chief reason the task force study was halted was because, at that time, new RHNA requirements wouldn't take hold before 2023, recently approved legislation now gives RHNA authority to review housing needs on an annual basis.
That means that it might be time to restart the East Side planning so that Pleasanton is ahead of the pack before state mandates hit us again.
"In 2018, we're going to see continued pressure from the state for local municipalities to meet housing objectives that are statewide," Raty warns. "With the state's continued emphasis on housing, we need to return to a discussion about the East Side before Gov. (Jerry) Brown decides what's the best use of that acreage."