Pleasanton city officials led a presentation at the school board's regular meeting Tuesday evening to discuss state and local housing trends and what residents can expect in terms of growth mandates in the not-too-distant future.
City Manager Nelson Fialho, along with community development director Gerry Beaudin, gave a report to the Pleasanton Unified School District and the community, with one main theme: local jurisdictions will have less and less control as the State Legislature attempts to solve a housing crisis.
"State law is really going to take away a lot of our ability to manage growth. We have a lot of influence and sway currently ... but it continues to be pulled back by the state and we believe that our ability to manage change at a reasonable pace will diminish over time," Beaudin lamented during the nearly 90-minute presentation Tuesday at PUSD headquarters.
According to the California Housing and Community Development Department, the state is truly in the midst of a housing crisis. In 2017, the report found that statewide developers were building approximately 80,000 new units annually -- compared to the estimated 180,000 units needed per year to truly house the state.
"From the state's perspective, there is a housing crisis and it will threaten the overall social and economic vitality of the state if it is not addressed," Beaudin told the school board. "That is why legislators in Sacramento have taken such an interest."
The public discussion last week focused more broadly on what could happen locally and regionally from a policy perspective, and the potential impact on Pleasanton schools largely wasn't addressed.
Regionally, the housing shortage is compounded by the expected growth set to hit the Bay Area. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission projects an additional 1.3 million jobs and 2.4 million people in the Bay Area by 2040. This equates to estimated employment growth of 15% and household growth of 25%.
Issues associated with a lack of housing and a booming population are relevant to Pleasanton as well, where the population has quadrupled since 1970, according to Beaudin's staff report.
Perhaps one of the recent key changes in the Pleasanton housing market is the proportion of single-family houses to units in multi-family complexes.
In 1991, the ratio of single-family to multi-family dwelling units across Pleasanton was 74% to 26%. In 2018, that gap closed to 71% to 29% -- a significant shift, according to city officials, due to an influx of more multi-family developments to single-family housing projects. During that same time, Pleasanton's overall number of housing units grew from 19,891 to 28,054.
Recently passed legislation such as Assembly Bill 2923 -- which allows BART to construct and govern housing on its land within half a mile of its stations such as on parking lots at Pleasanton BART stops -- has served to take local control away from municipalities to solve the housing crisis.
Beaudin says legislation coming from Sacramento to combat the housing crisis is primarily geared toward urban communities in a "one size fits all" type of solution, one that may leave suburban and rural areas floundering.
Regionally the Committee to House the Bay Area (dubbed CASA) was established by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to make recommendations that will achieve the state's goals of making affordable housing available to Bay Area residents.
To do so, CASA established 10 key elements to guide its decision-making:
1. Just cause eviction policy
2. Emergency rent cap
3. Emergency rent assistance and access to legal counsel
4. Remove regulatory barriers to accessory dwelling units
5. Minimize zoning near transit
6. Good government reforms to housing approval process
7. Expedited approvals and financial incentives for select housing
8. Unlock public land for affordable housing
9. Funding and financing the CASA compact
10. Regional housing enterprise.
"These are really important because they will form a lot of the framework for legislation that is going to come out of Sacramento for the next couple of years," Beaudin said, adding that the elements are "relatively urban-centric."
At this point, Pleasanton officials are attempting to anticipate where new housing will be placed, and while they have ideas, final development locations are not yet certain.
"I can assure you that come the calendar year 2022, we will have a map of the city that shows zoning to accommodate the state mandates, because we have to," Fialho said.
Fialho added that the city can expect the most density to be seen around transit centers such as the city's two BART stations, explaining that state legislation will encourage these locations.
"The concerns that I had in putting together the presentation was that it sounds like an alarm bell," Beaudin said. "And to a certain extent it should get everyone's attention, but the market does what the market has always done, which is come and build things."
As the conversation wrapped up, PUSD Trustee Jamie Yee Hintzke discussed options for how the district could respond to state mandates, especially around development on publicly owned land.
"We own a significant amount of property and I'm actually wondering if it is appropriate, for sometime soon, if we had a housing task force or something. Where it's maybe a board subcommittee or staff ... where we can really start digging deeper than this and trying to get some traction," she said. "Because right now we don't even know what to ask."
"We don't know what to ask either," Fialho responded with a chuckle, while also assuring the community that when the city's response to state legislation develops further "it will be a very public process."
More information on the evolving housing market in Pleasanton can be found online via the city of Pleasanton Housing Division.