Inter-Departmental Correspondence




December 1, 2003



9:45 a.m.



December 16, 2003



Honorable Board of Supervisors



Marcia Raines, Director of Environmental Services



Consideration of a General Plan Amendment to update and revise the General Plan Housing Element and a Zoning Text Amendment to adopt an Inclusionary Program for Affordable Housing.


County File Number:

PLN 2001-00766




That the Board of Supervisors:



Adopt a resolution:



Certifying the Negative Declaration as complete, correct and adequate and prepared in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act and applicable State and County Guidelines; and



Approving the General Plan Amendment to adopt an updated and revised General Plan Housing Element.



Adopt an ordinance approving the Zoning Text Amendment to adopt an Inclusionary Program for the unincorporated area.



Adopt a resolution directing staff to transmit the Inclusionary Program to the Coastal Commission for certification of conformity with the California Coastal Act.



The Planning Commission is proposing a General Plan Amendment to adopt an updated and revised General Plan Housing Element. Consistent with State housing element law, the draft Housing Element provides data on housing needs, and evaluates and revises housing policies and programs for the unincorporated County. The Planning Commission is also proposing an Inclusionary Program to promote the production of affordable housing in the unincorporated County. Both the draft Housing Element and the Inclusionary Program incorporate the recommendations of the Board-appointed Housing Element Task Force.





State Housing Element Requirements


The County's existing Housing Element was adopted in 1991 and certified by the State Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) as complying with State general plan housing element requirements (Government Code Article 10.6). These provisions also mandate periodic review and revision to housing elements, and specifically require that the revised element: (1) provide an updated assessment of the County's existing and projected housing needs; (2) identify opportunities and constraints relevant to meeting those needs; (3) evaluate the effectiveness of current housing programs; (4) develop new policies, programs, and quantified objectives as necessary to meet identified housing needs; and (5) develop a program for implementing housing element policies. When a housing element is revised, it must be submitted to HCD to determine if it complies with these requirements.



Overview of the Draft Housing Element


The draft Housing Element is organized into six sections. A brief description of each follows. The draft Housing Element is available on-line at



Introduction and Purpose - explains the scope and role of the Housing Element and its relationship to other County plans and programs.



Background Data - provides a population and housing profile for the County and the unincorporated areas based on 2000 census data.



Housing Constraints - analyzes potential non-governmental, governmental and infrastructure constraints to housing development in unincorporated areas and summarizes potential constraints countywide.


Housing Needs Assessment - provides an analysis of housing needs, both countywide and in unincorporated areas, related to housing supply, overpayment, overcrowding, rehabilitation, special population groups, affordable units at risk of conversion to market rate units and energy conservation.



Housing Resources - summarizes the financial and land resources available to the County to address housing needs.



Housing Policies and Programs - provides an evaluation of policies/programs from the previous housing element, new policies and programs for the unincorporated area, and a plan for implementing the proposed policies/programs.








General Plan Housing Element Task Force


In March 2002, the Board of Supervisors appointed a General Plan Housing Element Task Force to assist the Planning Division in updating the County's Housing Element. Supervisors Jacobs Gibson and Gordon co-chaired the Task Force, which included members from a broad range of organizations involved in housing and related issues. The Task Force met monthly during 2002 to consider background data on conservation/rehabilitation of existing housing, development of new housing/affordable housing, constraints to housing development and special housing needs. The Task Force then recommended policies and programs to address each of these topics. After the Task Force work was complete, staff completed the draft Housing Element, incorporating the most recently available 2000 census data and the policy/program recommendations of the Task Force.



Planning Commission Review and Action


The Planning Commission reviewed the draft Housing Element at a series of three meetings, beginning with a joint session with the Housing Element Task Force on September 10, 2003. The Planning Commission held two additional hearings on September 24 and November 12, 2003. Efforts to notify the public of these hearings and encourage involvement in the Housing Element review process are described in Key Issue No. 4. On November 12, the Commission voted 3 to 1 to recommend the Housing Element to the Board for adoption. Commissioner Kennedy was absent. The dissenting vote was cast by Commissioner Wong who voted against the motion only because he was not in favor of a wording change that was part of the motion for approval; he stated that he was otherwise supportive of the Housing Element and the Inclusionary Program. The wording changes recommended by the Planning Commission are summarized on Attachment A, and have been incorporated into the document. The Commission voted 5-0 to recommend certification of the Negative Declaration and adoption of the Inclusionary Program. Changes to the Inclusionary Program recommended by the Commission are described further in Key Issue No. 1.



State HCD Review


State HCD reviewed the draft Housing Element and submitted comments on its compliance with State housing element law. In general, State HCD's comments did not call for changes in the County's proposed housing policies and programs per se, but rather requested more detail in a number of areas including the County's ability to meet its regional housing need allocation, housing needs in unincorporated areas, land inventory, and governmental constraints analysis. State HCD's comments and staff's responses are summarized on Attachment B. The revisions requested have been submitted to the State and we are awaiting their response. Staff will provide an update on the State's review at the hearing on the 16th.



C/CAG Review and Action


The City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County (C/CAG), acting as the Airport Land Use Commission, reviewed the County's draft Housing Element at its meeting on November 13, 2003. C/CAG determined that the Housing Element is consistent with the applicable airport/land use compatibility criteria for Half Moon Bay Airport, as contained in the San Mateo County Comprehensive Airport Land Use Plan (CLUP). C/CAG recommended revising the Housing Element as shown on Attachment C, to ensure compliance with the CLUP and with AB 2776 related to airport noise disclosure. Staff supports the proposed revisions, and will incorporate them into the final Housing Element if the Board accepts the C/CAG recommendation.



City of Half Moon Bay Concerns - Relationship to Midcoast LCP Update Project


Members of the Half Moon Bay Planning Commission and City Council have expressed concern at previous Planning Commission and C/CAG meetings about the County's Housing Element. Their primary concern has been the impact increased housing production in the Midcoast might have on the City of Half Moon Bay with regard to traffic and infrastructure. As a point of clarification, the County's Draft Housing Element does not propose to rezone land or otherwise increase housing production in the Midcoast beyond what is currently planned for in the County's adopted LCP. Issues regarding the recalculation of "buildout," the adequacy of infrastructure to support buildout and the rate of residential development, are all currently being considered by the County Planning Commission as part of the Midcoast LCP Update Project. That project will continue with Planning Commission review through February or March, 2004, followed by Board of Supervisors review in late Spring, 2004, then Coastal Commission review in the Summer, 2004. Any change in the amount or rate of residential development that results from the Midcoast LCP Update Project will be incorporated into the next revision of the County's Housing Element, which is due in 2007.






Proposed Inclusionary Program


Inclusionary programs are policies or ordinances requiring that new housing include a specific percentage - usually 10 to 20 percent - of all homes at rent/prices affordable to low and/or moderate-income residents. The County implemented a 20% inclusionary requirement in unincorporated Colma with the adoption of the Colma BART Station Area Plan in 1994. To date, the inclusionary requirement, coupled with the County's Density Bonus Program, has led to the construction of 124 units affordable to very low and low income households, with another 31 affordable units currently under construction. The current inclusionary program proposal seeks to extend this successful program to all unincorporated areas. Attachment D summarizes the inclusionary program proposal recommended by the Housing Element Task Force.


The Planning Commission is recommending adoption of the inclusionary program, with the following changes:



Change the term of affordability for inclusionary units from 55 years to "in perpetuity."



Apply the 20% inclusionary requirement to single-family subdivisions of 5 or more parcels and target the single-family inclusionary units to low and moderate income households; all other aspects of the inclusionary program would apply similarly to multi-family and single-family development, including an in-lieu fee option for developments of 5 to 9 units.


In recommending these changes, the Commission felt (and most studies on inclusionary zoning point out) that imposing the requirement on multi-family developments only could encourage single-family development over multi-family development and miss the opportunity to have all residential development contribute to the affordable housing solution for the longest period of time possible. In addition, by including an in-lieu fee option for smaller developments, as many jurisdictions do, the inclusionary requirement will not be overly burdensome to smaller single-family developments. The Inclusionary Program Ordinance and Policy 14.37 have been revised to incorporate the Planning Commission's recommendations.



County's Regional Housing Need Allocation


Attachment E (Exhibit 14.26) shows the most recent regional housing need allocation for San Mateo County and each city within the County. These allocations represent housing production targets developed by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) for a 7-year period running from 1999 to 2006. State housing element law requires that they be incorporated into each jurisdiction's General Plan Housing Element. The total allocation for the unincorporated area is 1,680 housing units, about 10% of the County's total allocation. Attachment E (Exhibit 14.29) summarizes staff's analysis of the County's ability to meet this production target by income category. As shown, staff expects that the County will be able to meet the production target for the unincorporated area through a combination of approved and pending projects, available sites, and ongoing housing programs as detailed in Attachment E (Exhibit 14.30).


In the short term, the focus of Housing Element implementation will be on stimulating affordable housing development on land already appropriately zoned for higher density housing in urban areas, for example, in unincorporated Colma (see Policy 14.23). No specific rezoning is proposed at this time, as staff believes the County can meet its regional housing need allocation without increasing densities on residentially zoned land or rezoning any additional land for residential use. All land currently designated for agriculture, resource management and open space will remain so designated. Looking to the future, the Housing Element proposes a number of additional policies aimed at ensuring sufficient production of housing (particularly affordable housing) in the years ahead, by evaluating currently underutilized land for possible rezoning to allow more intensive use (see Policies 14.19, 14.20 and 14.22).



Other Key Policies and Programs


Additional key policies and programs proposed as part of the Housing Element are described in Attachment F.



Public Participation


In an effort to encourage maximum public participation in the Housing Element review process, the actions listed below were taken. In addition, all Planning Commission agendas and the draft Housing Element are available on the County Planning Division's website, and copies of the draft Element and all related materials were mailed to those requesting copies.



Notices of all Housing Element Task Force meetings were published in the Independent Newspapers.



Notices of all Planning Commission meetings were published in the San Mateo Times and the Half Moon Bay Review; a 1/8 page display advertisement was published prior to the September 24 Planning Commission meeting in the San Mateo Times.



Notice of the September 24 Planning Commission meeting was mailed to all Community Advisory Councils, Homeowners Associations, San Mateo County City Planning Directors, and Housing Element Task Force members.



Notice of the November 12 Planning Commission meeting were mailed to the core Community Service Agencies, in addition to those groups listed in c., above.



Notice of the December 16 Board meeting (1/8 page display advertisement) was published in the Independent Newspapers.



Notice of the December 16 Board meeting was mailed to all of the groups listed in c. and d., above, as well as all utility agencies servicing unincorporated areas.





Staff prepared a Negative Declaration for the draft Housing Element and the proposed Inclusionary Program, Attachment G. The official 30-day review period for the Negative Declaration was from October 7, 2003 to November 6, 2003. No comments were received.





County Office of Housing


County Counsel


State Housing and Community Development Department




The Housing Element and the Inclusionary Program keep the Commitment of offering a full range of housing choices, and support Goal Number 9, ensuring that housing exists for people at all income levels and for all generations of families. The Housing Element and Inclusionary Program contribute to this commitment and goal by providing a comprehensive set of policies and implementation programs to promote housing for all income groups in the unincorporated areas of the County.





Planning Commission Decision Letter



Summary of State HCD Comments and Staff Responses



C/CAG Decision Letter



Inclusionary Program Summary; Task Force Proposal


Revised Exhibits 14.26, 14.29 and 14.30 (a. and b.), Re: Ability to Meet Regional Housing Needs



Other Key Policies and Programs Summary



Negative Declaration



Resolution certifying the Negative Declaration and adopting General Plan Housing Element



Ordinance adopting the Inclusionary Program



Resolution authorizing Transmittal to the Coastal Commission