Pleasanton's newest Housing Element has been officially certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development after the state had previously sent the document back to the city for revisions, city officials confirmed last week.
The mandated 2023-2031 Housing Element update is now compliant with the state law, which means the city will not have to worry about things like the builder's remedy. According to the city press release, it will now help ensure that the city's plans and goals "address the housing needs of Pleasanton residents and provide fair housing options."
"Housing is a key priority in Pleasanton, and a certified Housing Element update demonstrates our continued commitment to this priority," Mayor Karla Brown stated in the Aug. 29 press release. "An outstanding quality of life for our city is closely connected to quality housing, and this update is an important step to keeping Pleasanton a desirable place to live and work for everyone."
The city has been working on its Housing Element update for nearly two years in order to get to this point.
The City Council had adopted the document on Jan. 26 after years of deliberation on which occupied and vacant sites to zone in order to meet the city's assigned Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) counts for new residential units within designated affordability categories.
Pleasanton's Housing Element will serve as a plan to address the city's assigned RHNA tally of 5,965 new units -- 2,758 of which are targeted toward lower-income households -- over the next eight years through the rezoning of 19 sites for housing.
The city had originally resubmitted the Housing Element on Feb. 14 so that state officials could review and approve the document. While HCD officials found that most of the document complied with state Housing Element law statutory requirements, a notice letter from HCD sent to City Manager Gerry Beaudin on April 10 noted that the city needed to make some additional revisions in order for the document to be certified.
Since then, city staff have been working to address those issues that the state pointed out.
Those issues included three major topics, according to the state: information to demonstrate viability of some of the non-vacant housing sites; program modifications to address environmental and regulatory constraints to housing development; and enhancement of Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) policies and programs.
In terms of the sites inventory, the changes that HCD outlined in the notice letter are that the city needed to better demonstrate the potential for redevelopment at specific sites such as the 10.68-acre Pleasanton Unified School District headquarters on Bernal Avenue and the 7-acre PUSD Vineyard site, located between Thiessen Street and Manoir Lane.
Apart from providing more evidence and context into potential sites for redevelopment, HCD was also looking for more clarity on the timelines for developing housing on those sites.
As for program modifications for the planned unit development process, the notice letter also outlined issues that might arise depending on the results of the city having to reanalyze its sites list, which the city had to address in order to be compliant with the state's housing laws.
One major talking point during this current Housing Element cycle -- which had many municipalities scrambling to reach official certification with the state -- was the lurking possibility of the builder's remedy.
The builder's remedy states that if a jurisdiction fails to adopt a compliant update by the statutory deadline -- Jan. 31 for the Bay Area municipalities -- local governments could lose the authority to deny certain development proposals based on inconsistencies with their zoning and General Plan requirements, if presented with a proposed development that meets state affordable housing rules.
But now that the city has a state-certified Housing Element as of Aug. 25, Pleasanton will not have to worry about the builder's remedy, according to city officials. Instead, the city will have to look to potential developers to come in and propose housing projects on the sites listed in the Housing Element.
Final site inventory list
Stoneridge Shopping Center
Muslim Community Center of the East Bay
St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church
St. Augustine Catholic Church
Black Avenue area
Kiewit affordable housing site
Kiewit market-rate housing sites
Sunol Boulevard area
Pleasanton Unified School District headquarters
PUSD's Vineyard Avenue property