As mentioned in the comments section under yesterday’s post, the City is going to be rebooting the Housing Element process to bring Alameda’s Housing Element into compliance with the state. The Housing Element is part of Alameda’s larger General Plan and the State requires that the Housing Element identify sites in Alameda to fulfill Alameda’s allocated Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).
Previously, it appeared that simply identifying sites was sufficient and that there was no real penalties for jurisdictions that failed to actually build the RHNA identified units. Now, for every unit unbuilt from each seven year cycle, the balance will “carryover” into the next seven year cycle. Did I mention the part about how jurisdictions can be sued if they don’t have an approved Housing Element? And given Alameda’s Measure A elephant in the room, Alameda really doesn’t want to give the State any other reasons to get pissy at Alameda on the subject of housing.
So, the City will be attempting to wrap up this Housing Element process by late next year including identifying certain sites for potential accommodation of housing units. The point of this process is not just to identify any old site and then just skate its way to the next housing cycle and identify that site again to meet the statutory requirement. Because of the carryover, this time Staff is suggesting to not identify North Housing and Alameda Point as potential sites since they probably would be unavailable to develop as housing by 2014 when a new cycle would begin.
If you look at the staff report, parcels that are currently zoned residential would simply not yield a sufficient number of units to meet the RHNA number let alone the carryover amount from last cycle. In fact, the City is banking on relying on rezoning parcels from other uses to residential to meet this need. Remember the units have to be built during the cycle period or the number of units get carried over. Interestingly enough on the proposed other uses sites to be potentially rezoned includes the Neptune Pointe site , Alameda Marina and Shipways at Marina Village, the staff report indicates that an application for residential rezoning is anticipated for the last two and of course Neptune Pointe’s new owners have already submitted a letter requesting rezoning.
What possibly could arise out of this process is a renewed discussion about Measure A and its limitations in meeting statutory requirements like the RHNA. Of course the adoption of the Density Bonus will help out quite a bit in allowing for a diversity of housing types and may be a sufficient program to counter the constraint to multifamily housing that Measure A is, but perhaps in light of the adoption of the Density Bonus it’s time for the City to re-examine the purpose and intent of Measure A.
The first meeting around this topic is scheduled for Monday night’s Planning Board meeting.