One of the bigger issues that has emerged in the city of Davis is the Affordable Housing Ordinance. With the rise of new apartment proposals that are structured more as student housing complexes, some of which are rent-by-bed configurations, the council has asked a consultant to review the current affordable housing requirement.
Of particular note has been the requirement that “a developer of rental housing developments containing twenty or more units to provide, to the maximum extent feasible, at least twenty-five percent of the units as affordable housing for low-income households and at least ten percent of the units as affordable housing for very-low income households.”
The conundrum from the city’s standpoint has been that no recent developments have accommodated or even approached that 35 percent mark.
Back in October at the Affordable Housing workshop, Councilmember Rochelle Swanson commented, “Thirty-five percent of zero is still zero.” Referring to the fact that if the units are not built because of the requirements, we get no affordable housing, her view was: “It should probably be lower than (35 percent) so that we do see it being built.”
He said, “[I]f our affordable 35 percent (requirement) is meaning that people are not going to build them, then it is time to review that.”
The Social Services Commission gets first crack at that on Monday. At least in their first cut, we don’t get an answer to those questions and, instead of lowering the standard, the proposed ordinance simply gives council more flexibility.
It appears that the 25-10 threshold will continue.
However, they have added language for “alternative” rental housing requirements: “The City Council may, at its discretion, approve alternative affordable housing requirements on a project specific basis that provide for a lesser percentage of the total units to be provided as affordable housing, or provide for affordable housing in an alternative manner, including but not limited to providing affordable housing by bedroom or individual bed, in an amount as deemed appropriate by the City Council.”
The council will consider the following factors:
- Whether the market rate component and/or the affordable component of the proposed development is anticipated to meet a specific housing need as identified in the City’s housing element or general plan policies;
- Whether the market rate units are anticipated to provide housing to low or moderate income households through the incorporation of design components that will encourage greater affordability including reduced units sizes and reduced utility costs;
- The extent to which the proposed development furthers other land use goals of the City, including but not limited to reductions in the need for private vehicles and the encouragement of development consistent with the Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy adopted for the Sacramento Region by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments;
- Whether the proposed market rate development includes unusually high infrastructure costs or other cost burdens as conditions to the development of the project;
- Whether the proposed affordable housing component may be partially funded by public subsidy or other public financing from a source other than the City;
- Whether the affordable component is provided on a bed or bedroom basis, that encourages greater integration of the affordable and market rate components of the project;
- Whether any or all of the affordable housing is provided at a deeper level of affordability (such as Extremely Low Income housing, as defined in California Health & Safety Code Section 50106); and
- Whether the application for the proposed development was submitted to the City for consideration prior to the adoption of AB 1505.
The criteria for on-site construction: “Affordable housing units constructed on-site shall include a mix of unit sizes, dispersed throughout the entire development, as approved by the director of the department of community development, based on the local housing needs of unit sizes. Affordable housing units shall not be clustered together in any building, complex or area of the development. Affordable housing units constructed on-site shall be constructed using the same building materials and including equivalent amenities as the market rate units.”
However, they do have an option for land dedication: “A developer may, as an alternative to constructing the affordable rental units on-site, make an irrevocable offer of dedication to the city of sufficient land to meet the total affordable rental housing units required pursuant to this section.”
The ordinance requires: “Housing built on land dedicated for affordable housing shall be permanently affordable.”
Clearly this gives the council some additional flexibility without eliminating the 35 percent baseline requirement. However, the question I would have is why go to a half-way measure at this point when the half-way measure seems to be the current rule? None of the current projects have come close to meeting the 35 percent requirement.
The council back in October “recognized that the existing inclusionary ordinance requirements should be studied to see if revisions are warranted. The City Council also expressed interest in providing for greater flexibility in how to provide inclusionary housing in various development prototypes…”
What has not been presented here is the consultant report on a financial analysis to inform the decision to determine “what may be an appropriate level of inclusionary housing to be placed on different projects.”
It appears that staff is planning this as an interim ordinance. Writes staff: “The proposed ordinance amendment will effectively serve as a transition to allow Council to act on a project specific affordable program for certain projects that have been in process while Palmer was in effect should they desire to do so on an interim basis prior to potentially adopting a comprehensively revised inclusionary ordinance.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting