The city releases the second version of the housing element

by Steven Felschundneff | [email protected]

Last week, Claremont released an update to the state-required framework that details its plan for future development in the city.

On Nov. 2, Claremont planning staff released the second draft of the city’s Sixth Cycle Housing Component, including both an interactive and PDF version of the Opportunity Site Map, which identifies locations in the city where future housing could be built.

The sixth cycle of the housing element had a statutory deadline of October 15, 2021, which means the city is currently not compliant. In September, the nonprofit Californians for Homeownership sued Claremont to compel him to complete the document.

Matthew Gelfand, attorney at Californians for Homeownership, said Claremont had been singled out because “based on our assessment, they are unlikely to adopt valid housing elements within the next six to twelve months without being forced into it by through litigation”.

Claremont on Thursday submitted the second housing unit project to the state for review. Once the document is returned to the city, it will be evaluated by the planning commission and ultimately presented to Claremont City Council for approval, then it will return to the state for certification, according to Bevin Handel, Claremont’s public information officer. .

“The housing element is part of the city’s overall plan,” read a city press release. “It includes a demographic profile of the City, an analysis of opportunities and constraints for the development of new housing, including affordable housing, and an assessment of existing housing programs. The Housing Element Update also introduces new implementation programs to facilitate the creation of new housing opportunities in the city and to protect the city’s existing affordable housing stock. Additionally, the Housing Element Update identifies potential sites and revamped development standards for those sites to meet the state’s requirement for Claremont to plan 1,711 new housing units by 2029.”

The first draft was submitted to the California Department of Housing and Community Development in December 2021, according to Handel. The city has engaged with Claremont residents at several community meetings over the past two years, including a public review of the initial draft.

On February 7, Claremont received a letter from Paul McDougal, a senior program manager at the Department of Housing and Community Development, detailing how the first draft needed to be revised to comply with state law. In the letter, McDougal said failure to comply could jeopardize the city’s ability to qualify for state and regional funding, including transportation and housing grants.

The Housing Element, which began more than 50 years ago, is a detailed planning document through which Claremont identifies potential “sites of opportunity” where it could build its share of new housing units as part of the regional allocation of housing needs. Of the 1,711 housing units in the Claremont RHNA, 556 are to be for very low-income residents, 310 low-income, and 287 middle-income residents.

The Opportunity Site plan itself contains few surprises, as most of the plots were included in previous versions of the housing item. The criteria for inclusion on the map cover both vacant land, such as the former La Puerta school site, as well as underused areas, such as church parking lots.

One of the sometimes confusing facets of the housing element is that it does not necessarily include actual development plans and often opportunity sites contain existing housing or successful businesses.

For land already developed, planning staff use a set of “selection factors” to determine if the site is suitable for new housing. These may include high vacancy in existing buildings or parking lot; whether the owner or a builder is interested in redeveloping the land; existing structures are over 30 years old and may need major renovations or may not be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant; and whether the existing uses of the site are similar to others in the city that have already been redeveloped.

The 9.67-acre La Puerta property has been identified as “the last remaining significant property of undeveloped property in the very resource-rich northern part of the city.” Trumark Homes submitted plans to build 56 single-family homes on the site, which met with resistance from residents adjacent to the site and mixed reviews from city policymakers.

In the housing element, planners propose “a more diverse mix of residential densities, unit types and levels of affordability”. This would include half of the site developed at six units per acre, a quarter at 15 units per acre and the final quarter at 30 units per acre, for a total of 137 residences. As stated above, this is just a proposed concept and not an actual sitemap.

In an email to Claremont Senior City Planner Nik Hlady, resident Bob Gerecke raises concerns about the proposed density of 40 units per acre along Indian Hill Boulevard and the Arrow Freeway in the area of ​​the specific map of the southern village.

“Shouldn’t there be very small units and no parking to accommodate 40 units/acre? How big should these units be? And where would the inhabitants park? Where would visitors park, since there is no parking along Indian Hill or Arrow in this area? ” He asked.

Gerecke also raised concerns about too many high-density sites adjacent to the village that are hurting the area’s business success through overdevelopment.

“The strong card of our Village is the atmosphere. If we lose it, the Village will decline; it will be a financial and social disaster for Claremont,” he said.

City manager Adam Pirrie said it will be next year when the planning commission reviews the document and sometime after that it will be in the hands of council.

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