I’m not sure if anyone has been following the news about Pleasanton’s housing cap being ruled illegal. On Friday Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch declared that a housing cap that was voter enacted in 1996 that capped off all new housing in Pleasanton was in violation of state housing laws.
…The ruling is the first by a California judge to require a city to change its zoning to accommodate new housing, said attorney Richard Marcantonio of the nonprofit Public Advocates firm, which represented the plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the cap.
Those plaintiffs said Pleasanton was welcoming employees to office parks and other businesses, but forcing other cities to house them.
Pleasanton can’t comply with the state law requiring it to build its fair share of housing because of a ballot measure, passed in 1996 and reaffirmed by voters in 2008, that allows no more than 29,000 units in the city, Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch said Friday.
Roesch ordered the city to disregard the limit and remove regulatory barriers to construction of about 4,000 new housing units by 2014. At least three-quarters of them must be affordable for low- to moderate-income residents…
So this is a really interesting case if it doesn’t get overturned on appeal. Essentially this says that when cities craft their housing elements, then the lots of land identified to fill the allotted Regional Housing Needs Allocation must be zone to accommodate the housing. In fact, in the Judge’s ruling it says:
Respondents [Pleasanton] must implement non-illusory zoning changes sufficient to accommodate the unmet RHNA for the 1997-2007 Planning Period. That is, the zoning and land-use changes need to be implemented such that they are without condition or need of future discretionary approval.
This may prove problematic for cities like Alameda which barely eek by with their Housing Elements by literally identifying every single parcel of land and saying, “here is where we promise to building housing to meet the RHNA goals!”
Only, Housing Element after Housing Element Alameda continues to identify the same parcels of land (Alameda Point, Collins property, Alameda Landing) but without any actual building occurring on these parcels. And, many of the larger parcels: Alameda Point (1800), 1523 Entrance Rd and 1527 Buena Vista Ave (165), Federal Land on McKay (105), Singleton Ave (72), 1835 and 1849 Oak St (81), 2201 Clement Ave and 2189 Walnut St (76)…not one is actually currently zoned for housing right now, putting it in a similar position as Pleasanton.
Of course, the Pleasanton situation is much more extreme than that of Alameda and Alameda’s housing limiting ordinance, Measure A, but in setting this precedence, this could put other cities, including Alameda, in danger of severe censure. In the case of Pleasanton, not only did the Judge overturn the ordinance, but until Pleasanton brings its General Plan into compliance with State Law all building, they can’t issue any more non residential building permits.
John King of the Chronicle also comments on this issue and has this quote by Cathy Cresswell of the Department of Housing and Community Development:
“The next few weeks, everyone is going to take a look at this and see what it might mean,” said Cathy Cresswell, the deputy director for housing policy development at the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development. “Some might want to take another look at how they’ve addressed this very important state requirement.”