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Council Directs City to Prepare Appeal For State’s Housing Requirement Numbers

State's allocation for Pasadena described as ‘unrealistic and unattainable’

Published on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 | 3:00 am

According to the City Council the city has no chance to meet the State’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation which is mandating the city build 9,400 units of housing by October 2029.

If the city does not hit those targets, developers will be allowed to skip parts of the city’s development process and override zoning laws based on how far cities fall short in their RHNA numbers.

“It’s not fair,” said Councilman Victor Gordo, who joined his colleagues on the council in a unanimous vote directing the city’s Planning Department to draft an appeal against the near impossible allocation. “It’s not achievable and I don’t think we should go forward with it without joining others and filing an appeal.”

The city also voted to approve a $374,000 contract with a local consulting firm to provide consulting services on the city’s housing update.

According to the numbers, the city must build 9,408 units of housing by October 2029, including 2,740 units of very-low-income housing, 1,659 of low-income housing, 1,562 moderate-income housing, and 3,447 units of above-moderate income housing.

“These numbers are unrealistic and unattainable,” said Councilman Gene Masuda.

But gaining an appeal could be hard in its own right.

Appeals cannot be granted based on a local jurisdiction’s existing zoning ordinance and land use restrictions, local ordinance, policy, voter-approved measure or standard limiting

residential development, prior underproduction of housing in a jurisdiction from the previous regional housing need allocation.

The numbers are part of a state mandate that requires all California cities and counties to provide capacity for their fair share of existing and future regional housing need.

Every eight years, the fair share assignment is determined through the Regional Housing Needs Assessment.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) determines the share of the state’s housing need for each region based off population projections prepared by the California Department of Finance and other factors identified in recent housing legislation. In turn, the council of governments (COG) for the region allocated to each local jurisdiction its share of the regional housing need.

In the past, the numbers were determined by a local jurisdiction’s growth forecast and included zoning codes, the General Plan, and other factors used to forecast growth. Those figures are still important, but now the state is also considering jobs and transit as growth indicators, which means Pasadena’s housing numbers have increased due to its growth.

The city is not required to build the units but, instead, must have the appropriate zoning ordinances in place to accommodate the number of new units in its RHNA target.

The city already has the zoning ordinances in place that would allow the city to meet the numbers.

In a joint letter, the West Pasadena Residents Association, the Madison Heights Neighborhood Association, and the Linda Vista-Annandale Association called on the city to oppose the allocated numbers.

“Many cities in the [Southern California Association of Governments] jurisdiction, including Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Cerritos, South Pasadena, Alhambra, and West Hollywood, have sent detailed letters of criticism to SGAG and appear ready to formally appeal and resist the new RHNA allocation numbers,” the groups wrote.

The city has until Oct. 26 to file an appeal based upon the application of SCAG’s methodology, local planning factors, or changed circumstances, followed by a 45-day period to file comments.

Final determinations are scheduled to be made by Feb. 4.

“There is another risk: failing to oppose and resist the new allocations may have unexpected consequences. If any cities are successful in reducing their new allocations, the reductions will be reallocated to other cities possibly resulting in an increase in Pasadena’s already-excessive allocation. Even if the argument for appeal is difficult and uncertain, Pasadena needs to act with other similarly situated cities in asserting our similar rights; and it needs to act along with other cities in a manner that makes good political sense and change the situation at SCAG and in Sacramento,” the letter states.

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