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Low- and moderate-income rental options limited by changes in state law

In anticipation of new housing developments cropping up throughout the city in coming months and years, the Claremont City Council spent Tuesday evening cleaning up several aspects of the city's housing codes. The council unanimously approved a series of changes to housing codes in order to be consistent with new state standards, including eliminating the rule that rental properties are subject to offering moderate-income or low-income units.

Several amendments to existing codes were sorely needed, as changes have not been made to the city’s housing codes since before the collapse of the housing market in 2007, according to Brian Desatnik, Claremont’s director of community development. Mr. Desatnik considered adopting a new set of requirements important in order to be reflective of several changes to state law since that time.

“A number of things have changed both in the marketplace and with regard to the changes with the loss of redevelopment that have caused us to go back and take a fresh look at our program,” Mr. Desatnik said.

Highlighted among changes were those codes that deal with affordable housing. Several of the developers have proposed including moderate-low income or low-income housing options in their projects slated for Claremont.

The first notable change dealt with the city’s Inclusionary Housing Requirements, a set of regulations requiring city developments to include a specified number of moderate- or low-income housing opportunities.

As the laws currently stand, new residential developments with 5 or more for-sale units must offer 15 percent of those units at moderate-income prices. Developments with rentable spaces must offer 10 percent to low-income households with 5 percent available to very low-income renters.  Certain exceptions are taken into account—should a development offer more low-income instead of moderate-income, for example, requirements may be reduced. Dormitories and apartments owned by educational institutions are exempt altogether.

The council unanimously added rental properties to the list of those exempted. They didn’t really have a say in the matter. A recent court case—Palmer/Sixth Street Properties LP. vs. City of Los Angeles—deemed requiring rental properties to the Inclusionary Housing Requirements was a violation of the state’s Costa-Hawkins Act, which allows landlords of rental developments the right to increase rent as units turn over.

“Inclusionary requirements were in violation of that,” Mr. Desatnik explained, adding, “The implication of that was it basically invalidates all of inclusionary housing programs dealing with rental housing developments.”

The second notable change concerned the city’s Long Term Affordability Covenance, which the council decided to do away with for several reasons. The covenance was adopted in the first place to comply with state Redevelopment Agency laws. Last February the Redevelopment Agency dissolved, and so did those laws.

Read the story in full along with details on the housing developments coming to Claremont in this Friday’s edition of the COURIER.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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