The city Council will hold a public hearing starting at 7 p.m. tonight to consider approving its new Housing Element, a part of the city's General Plan required by all California cities to show that they are meeting the statewide housing goal of "attaining decent housing and a suitable living environment for every California family."
The plan covers land use and housing development during the next cycle of the state's Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), which starts next year and extends through 2023.
It's all part of the periodic updates of the Housing Element that must be certified by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Certification is required to ensure that city's General Plan, to be fully legal in meeting state requirements, includes policies that continue to reflect changing community needs, challenges and opportunities in compliance with state law.
In order to catch up to the 2007-2014 RHNA cycle, which ends this year, and after nearly two years and hundreds of hours of community meetings, public hearings and staff discussions, the city Council rezoned 70 acres for high density residential development in 2012.
In the end, those rezonings of nine separate sites in various parts of Pleasanton provided a surplus that some critics want stripped out of the plan before it goes to the state for new certification.
According to city data, the city provided entitlements for 508 units in 2012, 1,148 in 2013 and 247 this year. The majority of these approvals are apartment-style units to accommodate requirements in State Housing laws.
The city's rush to rezone sufficient acreage for more high density development came after Pleasanton lost a costly court battle over its 1996 housing cap, which was ruled illegal. Both the California Attorney General's Office (then Jerry Borwn) and an Oakland-based affordable housing coalition demanded the city meet its RHNA requirements.
Of 20 sites considered for rezoning during a series of public hearings and community meetings, the council chose nine where high density developments of 30-units per acre would be allowed.
Only one of those developments is currently underway, a 168-unit, three- and four-story complex on West Las Positas Boulevard near Stoneridge Drive being built by St. Anton Partners.
Three years ago and also part of the legal settlements with the city, the council also approved a project by BRE Properties, which was recently acquired by Essex Property Trust, for high density apartment buildings with 498 units in three-and-four-story buildings in Hacienda Business Park. The developer is expected to break ground on those apartments in early 2015.
Earlier this month, the Pleasanton Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the new Housing Element that will go to the council Tuesday. The only exception was that it recommended cutting the density allowed on an already-approved apartment complex on property owned by C.M. Capital on West Las Positas Road to 12.5 units per acre from 30 and to chop the height of anything built there to two stories at the most.
After rezoning the nine sites for high density housing in 2012, the council then imposed a new growth management restriction which limits new projects since July 1 to a maximum of 235 units a year.
If approved by the council Tuesday, the 2015-2023 Housing Element Update will be submitted to the state's HCD for a 60-day review period. During that time, the proposed update will remain available for public review and ongoing comment.
Once the HCD has approved the proposed plan from Pleasanton, the plan will be considered once again by both the Planning Commission and city Council for final approval.
The city Council meeting will be held at the Pleasanton Civic Center, 200 Old Bernal Ave.