Inclusionary Housing Ordinance sent back to the drawing board

September 05, 2003
Santa Paula News

It’s back to the drawing board for the city’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance (IHO) after the Planning Commission agreed that the document needs strengthening in several areas.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesIt’s back to the drawing board for the city’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance (IHO) after the Planning Commission agreed that the document needs strengthening in several areas.The commission, minus the absent William Irion and Rita Graham, asked at that the Aug. 26th meeting that the IHO policy be altered for reconsideration.According to Planning Director Tom Bartlett, an IHO is intended to ensure that the private sector as well as the public sector contributes to and shares in the responsibility of providing adequate housing opportunities for all segments of the community.Developers can include a minimum amount or percentage or affordable units in their projects or to subsidize the construction of affordable housing at other locations in direct proportion to the number of market-rate housing units proposed.“Without an IHO, the skyrocketing home values in Ventura County might prohibit affordable housing construction unless it would be required as a part of larger housing projects,” said Bartlett.An IHO ordinance would apply to any development of 10 or more units and the city’s Redevelopment Agency area - which covers about two-thirds of Santa Paula - requires that new construction provide a 15 percent set-aside for affordable housing.Staff proposed that developer fees in-lieu of construction be $4,375 for each single family dwelling and $3,125 for multi-family units.Keeping units affordable to meet the mandates of the ordinance would be for 15 years, according to Bartlett, and type of affordable units to be provided could be split. A developer could provide 15 percent moderate-income units, 10 percent low-income units or 5 percent very-low-income or fees paid for same.The latter figure “actually spurs” development of very low-income units, said Bartlett.
Commissioner Gary Nasalroad asked if the 15-year affordability cap “seems like a reasonable number” and Bartlett said that RDA law requires 55 years, which can be problematic for lenders as well as limit affordable housing turnover.“If units fall off the affordability radar than we could be in trouble again,” with diminished affordable housing stock, said Nasalroad.Public speakers included Marsha Rae and Dora Crouch, who urged that the commission create a tougher ordinance, and a representative of the Building Industry Association who noted that IHOs are punitive to moderate-income households and “not a logical way” to pursue housing.Commissioner Jesse Ornelas said the ordinance had many flaws including the lack of a resale structure to allow the city the first right of refusal to ensure that units remain affordable.“We need to be serious about where want to go with this” and does Santa Paula “want to be community friendly or developer friendly,” he noted.After more discussion Bartlett noted that the IHO is just one of 22 housing programs to better housing affordability in the city.Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Matos said her “personal bias is however the formula is concocted development has an incentive for putting,” affordable units with market rate so neighborhoods reflect the city’s diversity. “However that could be done would make me a lot happier.”The commission asked that in-lieu fees and the timeframe of affordability be among issues revised.Later, Nasalroad noted that the City Council, which will ultimately decide development agreements, has “many powers of leverage. . .”

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