Council to Hold Housing Element Workshop on Tuesday


By David M. Greenwald

Davis, CA – The city of Davis announced on Friday that it would be re-opening City Hall starting Tuesday in conjunction with new state orders allowing for the resumption of normal business in California.  But don’t expect council meetings to return to the council chambers just yet.

The council on Tuesday will hold a workshop on the Draft Housing Element—this will be the fourth public meeting on the Housing Element, following the Housing Element Committee meeting on May 20, the Planning Commission meetings on May 26 and June 9.

No decision will be made on Tuesday and the document remains in process and out for both public review and review by the State Housing and Community Development (HCD) department.

Before a decision is made, the Housing Element will return to the Planning Commission and ultimately the City Council.

According to the staff report, the Housing Element Committee (HEC) “was a specially appointed committee, created by the City Council, charged with the responsibility to review the existing Housing Element and other related documents, background information,and receive public input.”

The Draft 2021-2029 Housing Element was released for public review on May 3.  The public review period for the Draft Housing Element 2021-2029 runs for a period of 60 days from May 3 to July 1, 2021.

“It is worth noting that the Housing Element is not an ordinance, it does not set any development standards and it does not rezone any properties mentioned within it. Instead, as a part of the General Plan,the Housing Element is a policy document. It sets the framework for what the City sets out to accomplish during the life cycle of the Housing Element,” staff explains.

Staff is looking for additional input on some of the recommendations that have come forward.

Housing Trust Fund: “Identify and implement one or more sources of robust permanent funding for the City’s Housing Trust Fund and establish and prioritize uses for these funds.”  Staff notes the city would be required to “study more robust funding for the Housing Trust Fund which would include analysis on the Housing Trust Fund strategy document irrespective of if it were included as an appendix to the Housing Element.”

There have been recommendations to remove the one percent growth cap.

The Draft Housing Element includes a provision that would “prohibit enforcement of the City’s one percent growth policy until at least January 1, 2025, consistent with SB 330, which prohibits certain limits on the number of building permits that a jurisdiction will issue.”

There is also a push for more pressure on UC Davis.

Staff writes, “The Planning Commission feels that the root of the housing shortage in Davis lies with the lack of on-campus student housing. It is their contention that if more students could be housed on campus, there would be more affordable housing available in the City of Davis as a whole. Furthermore, they feel that UCD is not meeting the provisions of the MOU between the City and the University.”

Here the recommended policy is: “Continue to work with UC Davis to provide housing for students. Support the provisions in the Memorandum of Understanding entered into by and between the City of Davis and UC Davis in 2018, including but not limited to the University’s commitment to provide on-campus housing for 100% of the actual student population in excess of the baseline enrollment number of 33,825 students, as defined in the 2018 Long Range Development Plan EIR.”

Staff continues, “The Planning Commission understands the dilemma of authority between the University and the City. However, they do not feel there is enough pressure placed on the University to perform. The Planning Commission did not suggest modified language for the policy.”

There is also a proposal to modify Measure J.

The HEC voted 8-2 to recommend that the City Council consider placing a measure on the ballot that would exempt the Wildhorse Ranch and the Mace Curve Properties From the requirement of having to subsequently be approved by a Measure D vote.

However, staff points out, “Many citizens have expressed their concern over the exclusion of these two properties from the requirements of Article 41.01. There is no recommended policy in the draft Housing Element Pertaining to the elimination…”

Again, these items are being placed forward for discussion and the council will take additional public comment in advance of the review period closing, at which time it will go back to the Planning Commission for additional review.

—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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