[UPDATED] Representatives of a coalition of local housing advocacy groups stood on the steps of City Hall Monday to announce plans for an upcoming rally for housing rights to be held next Monday, August 2, before the meeting of the City Council.
According to the statement from the Pasadena Affordable Housing Coalition, they are demanding the City Council revise the Draft Housing Element recently released by City staff.
The City Council is scheduled to review the Draft Housing Element at their August 2 meeting.
“The Housing Element is a tool to get the City to do more for housing,” said Kimberly Douglas of POP!, Pasadenans Organizing for Progress. “Pasadena, over multiple cycles , has not met its Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA)for low-income housing.”
The Pasadena Affordable Housing Coalition includes nine civic organizations—All Saints Church, Making Housing and Community Happen, NAACP, League of Women Voters-Pasadena Area, Pasadena For All, POP!, Democrats of Pasadena Foothills, Complete Streets Coalition, and Abundant Housing LA).
All Southern California cities are required to revise their Housing Elements as blueprints for citywide housing policies over the next eight years, including demonstrating to the State that they can produce the target number of new units required by the Regional Housing Assessment (RHNA).
Pasadena’s nearly impossible RHNA allocation is 9,408 units, 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.
Washatka compared the effort to the religious reforms of Martin Luther, who petitioned the papacy for changes in the Catholic Church, and said Monday, “This is something that needs to be taken care of. The City can do this. We can do this. We just have to put our minds to it.”
The coalition is demanding 25 specific policies be incorporated into the Housing Element draft by the City Council before it is submitted to the State Department of Housing and Community Development for review.
Among the mission objectives of the Coalition is to provide housing security to Pasadena’s rent-burdened tenants, make affordable housing easier and less expensive to build in Pasadena; provide augmented local funding to help bridge the gap between the cost of providing affordable housing and the current resources available
The Coalition is also demanding that the City “enable ordinances that provide Tenant Protection Solutions; enact just cause eviction and anti-harassment tenant protections, establish rent control to stop pricing tenants out of their homes, mandate a rental registry of all rental properties to ensure transparency, and provide for tenant’s right to legal counsel.”
‘We don’t think the City Council is listening to us,” Washatka added. “The Planning Department and the Planning Commission are not listening to the people. We have to stop thinking about the impossible, and the improbable, and the unlikely, and start thinking about the possible.”
The speakers displayed an eight-foot scroll signed by coalition members and supporters highlighting the specific policies the coalition members want to see the Council approve.
The 25 demands include:
- Just cause eviction and anti-harassment tenant protections.
- Rent control to stop pricing tenants out of their homes.
- Rental registry of all rental properties to ensure transparency.
- Providing for a tenant’s right to legal counsel.
- Amending zoning code to permit churches and houses of faith to build affordable housing on excess land.
- Incentivizing building affordable accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior ADUs by removing restrictions and fees.
- Removing parking minimums citywide to lower the cost of housing.
- Creating an affordable housing overlay zone.
- Providing a local density bonus program near transit.
- Allowing housing in commercially zoned areas and adaptive reuse of commercial buildings.
- Streamlining the cumbersome approval process for all deed-restricted, affordable housing, and permanent supportive housing.
- Enacting a form-based code to focus on building form, not the number of units.
- Removing regulatory barriers to promote “Missing Middle Housing.”
- Dedicating vacant and underutilized public land (city, school district, etc.) for affordable housing.
- Enacting a dedicated funding source for an affordable housing fund (impact fees, housing bond, a vacancy tax, property transfer tax, and/or vacancy tax).
- Unbundling parking cost from rent cost.
- Increasing general funds to the housing department so that it is fully staffed to be open to the public during all City business days.
- Forgiving back rents /reimburse economic losses due to COVID-19 pandemic.
- Ending homelessness
- Providing “bridge housing” or “tiny homes” and supportive services to the unhoused.
- Expanding the supply of permanent supportive housing and interim/transitional housing.
- Creating community land trusts to ensure affordable housing and ownership of the land.
- Establishing city purchase mechanisms and covenants (preserve naturally occurring affordable housing and prevent the displacement of low-income households).
- Enforcing existing codes. (Lax code enforcement results in poor living conditions.)
- Mandating on-site affordable housing in the inclusionary housing ordinance.
- Ensuring new affordable housing is built throughout the community.