The Livermore City Council last week considered its latest housing update report that includes anticipated construction of seven new residential complexes to help Livermore reach the roughly 1,500 new units required by 2022 under the regional housing needs allocation (RHNA).
The 2018 Housing Element Annual Progress Report, which was presented by city principal planner Steve Riley and assistant planner Trisha Pontau on March 25, is based on existing and projected housing needs in the city, and is one of nine state-mandated elements of the city’s General Plan.
In accordance with the RHNA, the groundwork for quantifying housing need by income of projected growth population, Livermore must increase the housing for people of low-income households Housing needs are divided into four income brackets: Extremely low/very low, low, moderate and above moderate, according to Pontau.
According to the report, three of the seven new complexes will be built later this year. The Chestnut Square Senior Building offers 72 units for seniors aged 62 and up of low, very low and extremely low income; five of which are for homeless seniors. Ageno Apartments will have 171 units, 34 of which are very low income; Auburn Grove will provide 100 townhouses, 15 of which are moderate income units.
The buildings still under review are Legacy Livermore, featuring 222 market-rate units; Vineyard Housing and Services Site, which will provide 24 units of “permanent supportive housing;” Downtown Workforce Housing, with 130 workforce units downtown; and Pacific Avenue Senior Housing, providing 140 senior housing units within the low, very low and extremely low income brackets.
The population of Livermore is 90,29 -- 11,100 of whom are seniors, according to a 2017 U.S. Census Bureau report.
According to city developers, the application process for Chestnut Square ended last month, and 653 applications from prospective residents were received for the 72 units.
While Livermore is on track to meet the required number of units, housing is still “heavily skewed” toward the moderate end of the spectrum, according to city staff.
“I recognize the frustration of people in Livermore,” Councilwoman Trish Munro said of the report findings. “I could not afford my house, and I don’t know many people my age who could, were we trying to buy them today.”
Only 86 units building permits were issued for the extremely low and very low income brackets. Fifty-two were issued for low income, 450 for moderate, and 981 for above moderate income brackets.
“We’re having difficulty meeting our lower income category units," Riley said last week.
For homeless or single occupancy residents, housing still poses a challenge.
While the city isn’t required to construct the housing addressed in the plan, it needs to show that there is adequate land zoning in the city to accommodate private residential development, according to the staff report.
Councilman Bob Coomber asked city staff about the number of single-family units to be built, saying, “It’s disconcerting that when we consider only income level -- that’s probably what the state requires -- but for those of us who the second floor is just a backpacking trip, it would be nice to have single-story homes included in planning.”
According to city staff, accessory dwelling units -- also known as “in law” or “granny units” are encouraged as a solution for more affordable housing options in the city at lower income levels. Last year, 18 permits were issued last year for accessory dwelling units, which usually qualify as moderate income bracket based on market prices.
“While we actually produce a lot of affordable housing, compared to our neighbors, as you can see, it is far short of the demand,” Riley said.
City officials were required to send the report to the California Department of Housing and Community Development and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research by April 1 pending council approval, which was unanimous last week.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly characterized the city of Livermore's overall RHNA count for the 2015-22 (2,700 new units) as the total pending/still to be constructed as of now through 2022. The city is roughly 1,500 units away from fulfilling its RHNA obligation for the current term. The Pleasanton Weekly regrets the error.