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HOUSING ELEMENT

Manteca has no choice but to update plan

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POSTED April 10, 2009 3:44 a.m.

To access City Manager Steve Pinkerton’s blog go to www.ci.manteca.ca.us/blog/

In the April 9, 2009 Bulletin a letter was published questioning the need for a housing element update.

The author is concerned with the cost of updating the City’s existing Housing Element, and asks “why not simply implement the findings of the 2003 Housing Element and save our limited funds?”  The answer is simple, State law requires the Housing Element to be updated every five years and Manteca’s Housing Element was adopted in August 2004.  Such updates are necessary to account for changes in demographics, housing program funding and site availability.  The mandatory update also requires evaluation of the existing housing element to gauge the City’s performance in meeting its established goals.  The update also gives City’s an opportunity to bring their housing elements into compliance with the most recent housing legislation.  

Since the adoption of our last housing element the state legislature has approved new requirements for housing elements, including:

· SB 2-Requires zoning to encourage and facilitate emergency shelters and transitional and supportive housing. Specifically, at least one zoning district in each community must be identified where emergency shelters are allowed without a conditional use permit.

· SB 2348- Requires a more detailed inventory of sites, and requires that each community zone enough land at 20 units per acre to accommodate its low- and very low-income housing needs.

· SB575- Limits the downzoning or denial of projects identified in a Housing Element Adequate Sites Analysis.

· SB 1087- Requires housing elements be forwarded to water and sewer providers to ensure that infrastructure is available to meet future housing needs.

· AB 2634- Housing Element must quantify the needs of extremely low-income households.

Obviously the question becomes “What happens if we do not have an updated Housing Element?” Without a certified Housing Element, the City would be ineligible for some of the state housing grants and funds it currently receives. Other state funds, including those used to maintain roads and utilities, also could be jeopardized. The City would also be vulnerable to lawsuits for not working proactively to meet its housing needs. Typical remedies for such lawsuits include court orders to meet state certification requirements and, in some cases, court ordered moratoriums on development. These lawsuits are expensive and can have adverse fiscal and economic effects.  

The Community Development Department is working diligently to craft a Housing Element that comes to grips with current and future housing needs including housing related to the foreclosure crisis, incentives for residential developers to provide affordable housing, working closely with non-profit developers, and working to promote higher density housing in the downtown.

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