Millions in Planning Grants Awarded to Nine Cities, Davis Awaits Theirs

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On Monday, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) announced awards totaling more than $2.3 million to local governments that are working to streamline housing approvals and accelerate housing production.

These are the first awards from the HCD Planning Grants Program which was created in 2018 as part of SB 2.

SB 2 marked a significant step toward finding solutions for the construction of affordable housing, giving cities greater access to funding in order to streamline housing approvals as well as update land-use plans and zoning to meet the needs of housing in local communities.

HCD awarded grants to nine communities, including most notably $310,000 to Woodland.

Among the others are $625,000 to the city of Long Beach, and $310,000 also went to Redlands and Folsom.  And $160,000 went to the cities of Shasta Lake, Monterey, Gonzales, San Jacinto, and Banning.

According to a release, “The local governments will use the grants for a variety of planning documents and process improvements that increase the supply of affordable homes and apartments while reducing costs and saving processing time.”

“We’re excited to see these first grants go out the door and provide this financial support to cities and counties that are working to meet the housing needs of Californians,” said HCD Director Ben Metcalf. “The team at HCD is highly focused on providing proactive support to local jurisdictions, so they are well-positioned for success as they apply for funds.”

All cities and counties in California will be eligible for these non-competitive funds, provided the jurisdiction has an HCD-approved housing plan (Housing Element); has submitted their 2017 or 2018 annual progress reports, showing how the jurisdiction is pacing against their housing plan; and demonstrates in their application that grants will be used to work toward accelerated approvals and production.

The city of Davis put in for their grant application in June – requesting the maximum award of $310,000 for a medium-sized jurisdiction.  The grant amount is determined by the size of the locality, with large localities like Long Beach – those with more than 200,000 – entitled to up to $625,000.  Medium localities are 60,000 to 200,000 people and entitled to $310,000 with small localities, less than 60,000 people, entitled to $160,000.

The grant does not include a local match.  According to the city’s staff report, these are “noncompetitive” for an eight-month period ending November 2019.

The city had an item in June which authorized the application for the SB 2 planning grant funds.

The city is looking to utilize the funding for three projects:

  • Developing pre-approved accessory dwelling unit plans and construction drawings
  • Establishing a stormwater treatment plan for the Downtown Plan
  • Completing financial modeling for specific development scenarios

Staff notes: “In an effort to further streamline process and reduce the upfront costs associated with preparing and processing architectural drawings for accessory dwelling units (ADUs), the City is seeking SB 2 funding to support a Request for Proposal (RFP) process where one to two qualified architects would be selected to develop ADU plans and construction drawings with varying elevations and structural option opportunities.

“The ADU plans would be developed to fit on minimum lot sizes that are common throughout the City.”

Second, the city has already appropriated around $1.6 million to develop the new Downtown Specific Plan and an accompanying form-based code for a 152-acre area that represents the downtown core of Davis.

The city believes there are “great opportunities for redevelopment within this area to include increased housing opportunities at varying affordability levels.”

One thing they view as an impediment is “how to treat storm water in a manner that results in feasible development. Staff believes there are potential treatment solutions to be realized that among other things would involve treatment improvements at the Toad Hollow park detention basin that serves this area of the City.

“The City has very limited funding sources to study this matter and has not been able to fund this effort to date.

“As such, staff is seeking SB 2 funding to support a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process to contract with a firm that would conduct a study and prepare plans for a shovel-ready project. The resulting plans would enable staff to pursue stormwater grants, since most of the funding opportunities require shovel-ready projects.”

Finally, the city is proposing to use some of the SB 2 funds to “commission an additional economic analysis that builds upon a previous study completed in 2018. The analysis would include the financial modeling of specific development scenarios to inform the City on what tools would be the most effective in producing inclusionary units and ultimately ensuring a diverse housing stock.”

City Manager Mike Webb told the Vanguard that the city is expecting to hear about their grant application in the next few weeks.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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13 thoughts on “Millions in Planning Grants Awarded to Nine Cities, Davis Awaits Theirs”

  1. Ron Oertel

    From article:  “SB 2 marked a significant step toward finding solutions for the construction of affordable housing, giving cities greater access to funding in order to streamline housing approvals as well as update land-use plans and zoning to meet the needs of housing in local communities.”

    From article:  “Finally, the city is proposing to use some of the SB 2 funds to “commission an additional economic analysis that builds upon a previous study completed in 2018.” 

    Wondering how the city’s proposed use of the funds ( for additional “economic analysis”) adheres to the stipulations attached to the public funding, which is intended to find solutions for “affordable housing”).

    Does the state review such plans, before granting the award? (To see if the plans match the intended use?)

    For example, is the city ultimately planning to use these public funds to help advocate for a (private) peripheral innovation center?

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      The answer is yes, the state reviews applications and determines if the use of the money, strictly regulated is appropriate.

      From the article:

      The city believes there are “great opportunities for redevelopment within this area to include increased housing opportunities at varying affordability levels.”

      One thing they view as an impediment is “how to treat storm water in a manner that results in feasible development. Staff believes there are potential treatment solutions to be realized that among other things would involve treatment improvements at the Toad Hollow park detention basin that serves this area of the City.

      “The City has very limited funding sources to study this matter and has not been able to fund this effort to date.

      “As such, staff is seeking SB 2 funding to support a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process to contract with a firm that would conduct a study and prepare plans for a shovel-ready project. The resulting plans would enable staff to pursue stormwater grants, since most of the funding opportunities require shovel-ready projects.”

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      “For example, is the city ultimately planning to use these public funds to help advocate for a (private) peripheral innovation center?”

      None of the three uses posted in this article mention peripheral innovation centers.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Thanks – might have partly misunderstood the reference to “economic analysis”.

        It does appear that these funds are intended to assist in the effort to residentialize the downtown area, with the assistance of a relatively small public subsidy.  (By the way, how is that process going?)

        It’s certainly questionable regarding how “affordable” housing downtown can be, without specifically requiring it to be “affordable”.

    1. Bill Marshall

      True, more often than not…  problems with definitions, and reality, particularly realities of individuals…

      One of the problems also appears to be what is the housing?  Shelter/insulation are very important… amenities/’goodies’ not so much so, but what used to be ‘premium’ are now standard… there is a cost associated with that…

      I grew up in a 850 SF, 2 BD, 1 bath house with a 1 car garage… a real stretch for the family income in 1955… but my parents ‘afforded’ it, but it was a close call… we lived very frugally to make it work out… a $8,000 house at ~ 3% interest rate.

      First house in Davis… 3 bdr, 2 bath, 1350 sf.  2 car garage… 1980, $71k, 12% mortgage interest… we struggled for a few years… with a professional’s salary…

      @ that time, it was nearly ‘a push’, given the townhouse/apt we lived in for 9 mos. (2 bdr, 1-1/2 bath)… vacancy rate for housing in 1979… ~ 0.25 %… sound familiar?

      In ’79, MF folk (landlords) could charge “market”… the first house we bought was a definite “fixer upper”… had been a student rental (it showed) and 22 years old… we stretched more to get it fully liveable…

      So, Alan, am affirming your comment, and adding, ‘there is nothing new under the sun’… c’est dommage…

       

  2. Craig Ross

    What’s not stated here is that $320,000 buys one affordable house.  So by using the grant money for infrastructures and studies, the city is probably maximizing the benefit.

  3. Ron Oertel

    Craig:  “What’s not stated here is that $320,000 buys one affordable house.” 

    Probably because it’s not true.  (More like one “unit”, within a complex.)

    David probably remembers what the unit cost is, at the Creekside development under construction.  (Man, that thing is LARGE!)  I recall that the city allowed greater density than what was originally approved for that site.

    Coupled with Sterling, 5th Street is going to become even more busy.

    In a way, I’m looking forward to other developments around town being constructed, so that folks truly “feel” the impact of them. (Might make them think twice, before approving even more.)

    Anything downtown is likely to be even more costly, than a unit at a place like Creekside (which was undeveloped land, far from downtown).

    1. Ron Oertel

      On Fifth Street alone, there’s also the Hibbert’s site, and University Mall.  Both of which will likely include massive amounts of new housing.

      Park the car, folks!  You’re not going to be able to move, anyway. What impact that has on the remaining businesses downtown remains to be seen.

      1. Ron Oertel

        (Before someone jumps in, yes – I’m aware that 5th Street becomes Russell, west of B Street.)

        And no – I don’t know if it’s “5th Street”, or “Fifth Street” – but doesn’t seem important anyway. (I think it’s “5th”.)

      1. Ron Oertel

        Someday, everyone will be living in coffin-sized units, as they do in Hong Kong.  (Maybe more like passenger compartments, on a train.)

        Not my idea of an “improvement”.

        And certainly, yards will be a thing of the past. Unless covered by an “accessory dwelling unit”. Probably around the same time that they outlaw watering of yards (already prohibitively expensive), eliminate the claw, etc.

        Plant nurseries will be a thing of the past, except for plantings designed to “hopefully” block smog at development projects. 😉

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