After nearly two years of public discourse, hour-long meetings and community workshops, the Pleasanton City Council is set to adopt and finalize its 2023-31 Housing Element during a special meeting on Thursday.
According to the city staff report, some of the main talking points will be possible modifications to the 18 sites that have been selected as potential locations for redevelopment, General Plan Land Use Element modifications and a review of the Environmental Impact Report.
City staff had first began working on the city's sixth Housing Element cycle back in March 2021 to meet the state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) of 5,965 new units.
They underwent a public participation process through which public comments, input by the Housing Commission and Planning Commission and prior City Council direction led to a draft that was presented to the council on Dec. 20.
During that meeting, the council voted 3-1 to modify the site list by reducing the number of housing units and buildable acres at the Pleasanton Unified School District headquarters and Vineyard sites with Councilmembers Jack Balch dissenting and Julie Testa recusing herself because she lives close to the downtown site.
The council also voted to bring back the St. Augustine Catholic Church site, which staff originally took off the site list.
However, that decision to reduce the number of units at the PUSD sites was met with many residents and PUSD officials saying they felt that was a mistake.
On Jan. 9, the district sent the city a letter, which outlined the repercussions of that decision stating that the district -- in order to guarantee enough teacher workforce housing be built at those sites -- might be forced to utilize a state law called AB 2295.
The law would allow the district to build workforce housing on land it owns without approval of or input from the city with a minimum density of 30 units per acre.
In response to these concerns, the staff report outlines some modifications to the PUSD sites including a modification to the downtown site to allow up to 139 units, resulting in a density of eight to 13 dwelling units per acre across the entire approximately 10 acres.
"Some areas of the site may accommodate Village High School, parks and landscape buffers," according to the staff report. "As such, the units may be clustered resulting in an average of 18 (dwelling units per acre) across the areas containing housing. This density was supported by the (Planning) commission provided that the district was able to demonstrate its commitment to providing teacher/workforce housing on the site."
As for 10-acre Vineyard Avenue property located between Thiessen Street and Manoir Lane, the staff report states that while it is not reflected as a change in the site's inventory list, staff will be recommending an insertion of a new bullet under General Plan Policy for the site.
That would allow the City to consider allowing additional units following the completion of supplemental California Environmental Quality Act analysis.
Apart from the PUSD site modifications, the staff report also outlines density increases to the Metro 580 and Oracle properties and a decrease to Valley Plaza property due to "the desire to retain local-serving retail and concern that four-story buildings may not be appropriate in this location given residential adjacencies."
The report also states that staff will be looking to add the Pimlico Drive area, north back to the list provided that "staff is able to confirm affirmative owner interest in redeveloping these parcels from all three owners."
If the council does adopt the Housing Element on Thursday, staff will then have to resubmit it to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, which then has 30-60 days to review the document and issue any additional comments before final certification.
After that, the city will then prepare rezonings to be adopted for each of the Housing Element rezoning sites for consistency with the Housing Element.
The special City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 26). The full agenda can be accessed here.
In other business:
* Council members will be voting on approving new components and modifications to the Stoneridge Mall Framework including changing the density range adjustment to be between 50 and 65 dwelling units per acre at the shopping center.
The framework, which was initiated in August, will help guide staff in the ongoing allocation of housing among the parcels at the location.
Since August, city staff have hosted community meetings, one of which was a joint meeting with the Planning Commission, and coordinated input from the four property owners to develop the framework so that it aligns with the adoption of the city's Housing Element.
"The Stoneridge Mall Framework is a focused planning effort to identify and provide guidance for the location, configuration and desired land use, circulation and urban design intent for the properties containing the Stoneridge Shopping Center," according to the staff report.
The original Housing Element draft had contemplated between 900 and 1,440 units at the mall within approximately 18 of the total approximately 75 acres with a density range of between 50 to 80 dwelling units per acre.
But with the density range adjustment that is being proposed at Thursday's meeting, each of the six parcels at the mall would be "allocated between 150 and 195 du/ac, exclusive of any State Density Bonus units, resulting in an overall range of 900 to 1,170 units."
"This would equate to between 1,350 and 1,755 units if all projects qualified for a 50 percent Density Bonus -- the actual maximum would depend on specific project applications, which may or may not seek density bonuses at the maximum allowed," according to the staff report.
* City staff will be looking for the council to adopt a draft for updated objective design standards that will also align with the Housing Element adoption.
"The City of Pleasanton is updating existing design guideline documents relevant to residential development such that the guidelines provide objective standards, in response to recent changes in state law that seek to streamline and increase housing production," according to the staff report. "These changes are focused on making approval processes more routine and predictable for developers by creating objective standards in lieu of more discretionary or subjective review procedures."
The objective standards will apply to the sites included in the Housing Element, sites that have been carried over from the fourth Housing Element cycle and sites related to smaller infill development in multifamily zoning districts, located principally downtown and limited areas outside of downtown.
Some of the modifications that the Planning Commission recommended the council should adopt at its Jan. 11 meeting include adding clarifying text regarding projects that require legislative review, and increasing the required number of bicycle parking spaces.
"The Planning Commission also discussed building height for projects greater than 30 (dwelling units per acre) but less than 40 (dwelling units per acre) and suggested staff and the professional services team consider a reduced building height for projects that fall within this range, since the Housing Sites ODS currently identify a building height maximum of approximately 65 feet for projects with density 30 (dwelling units per acre) or greater," the staff report states.
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