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Housing amendments top city council's Tuesday night agenda

Legislation pertaining to the city’s housing codes is at the top of the agenda for the Claremont City Council’s first meeting in April, to take place this Tuesday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m.

The council will first consider adopting a new set of inclusionary housing requirements, a set of rules mandating city developments to include a specified number of moderate- or low-income housing opportunities.

The current inclusionary housing requirements were adopted in 2006, but given changes to state mandates since that time, staff considers adopting a new set of requirements important in order to be reflective of those changes. 

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. They may also pay an in-lieu fee instead. Developments with rentable spaces must offer 10 percent to low-income households with 5 percent available to very low-income renters.  However, certain exceptions are taken into account—should a development offer more low-income instead of moderate-income, for example, requirements may be reduced.

City staff is recommending that the council eliminate rentals from the inclusionary housing requirements. According to the staff report, this is because a recent court—Palmer/Sixth Street Properties LP. vs. City of Los Angeles—deemed the requirements as applied to rental properties was against state law, namely the Costa-Hawkins Act.

Staff is also recommending a change to what is referred to as the Long-Term Covenant requirement. The city currently requires that for-sale units be available at “affordable” prices for 45 years, or that the city allow those units to be available at market rate with the city “recapturing the original principal and sharing a percentage of the equity appreciation.” The city had decided on the long-term covenant of 45 years to coincide with the state redevelopment agency’s Housing Needs Assessment, requiring each jurisdiction to share the responsibility of regional housing needs. As the requirements of the Housing Needs Assessment have already been met, prior to the redevelopment agency’s dissolution last year, staff now recommends shifting from a Long-Term Covenant to a Principal Recapture and Equity Sharing.

The council will also be tasked with amending the city’s density bonus law. A density bonus allows a developer the ability to exceed zoning requirements by 25 percent should the developer agree to include affordable housing units. Adopted in 1997, the city’s current law grants developers a density bonus should: 20 percent of units be available as low-income housing, 10 percent be available as very low-income housing, 60 percent be offered to senior citizens. In 2004, the senate reduced those requirements. The city is proposing to do the same, with 10 percent of units be available as low-income housing, 5 percent be available as very low-income housing. Should a developer meet those restrictions, a 20 percent density bonus may be granted.

In addition to amending housing laws, the council will decide on appointments to local and regional committees. The meeting takes place in the City Council Chamber at 225 W. Second St. Check out the COURIER Wednesday morning for highlights from Tuesday’s meeting. A full story will appear in the Friday, April 12 edition of the paper.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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