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Cantu responds to Pinkertons housing element comments
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I have reviewed City Manager Steve Pinkerton’s response to my comments regarding the need for a housing element update, and I provide the following response.

Mr. Pinkerton, I see that you have reviewed the California Department of Housing website.  You are correct, housing element law requires periodic update of the element, the state notes five years.  However, I believe you have missed the point.  My issue is not with whether the housing element needs updating or not, the issue is the Council’s lack of response to the housing deficiencies identified in the current housing element, and, of course all the other community amenities that have been ignored for years.  The housing element prepared five years ago identified the same housing deficiencies that you have identified in your comments, except we are now five years later, and with little or no results.  In addition, it is now 35 plus years since the law was imposed with negligible results to show over that period.

Moreover, for your information, when the housing element law was adopted in the late 1960s by the state, it did so because communities were not addressing the housing needs on their own initiative.  In order to resolve many of California’s housing problems, it was necessary to force the matter through adoption of state law and enforcement.  Enforcement however was slow and focused on the larger agencies.  Subsequent Senate and Assembly bills, including those that you identify, have been proposed and put into law because communities are not affectively and actively correcting their housing deficiencies or implementing the programs identified in their housing elements.

You are correct in noting the benefits of having a certified housing element and the potential repercussions for not.  I pointed out the same issues for years in my attempts to get council support to prepare a housing element.  When funds were finally provided to prepare a housing element and receive certification, there was little or no follow-through support to correct the deficiencies or implement the programs.  As for coming to grips with current and future housing needs, I can tell you (without doing an update study) that the deficiencies identified in the current housing element have worsened because the housing focus of this community’s administration has not changed.  In addition, the new housing element is not going to resolve the foreclosure crisis, or make affordable houses appear on the horizon, or maximize densities.  If it has not happened in decades who is at fault?

My position is simple; if the Council is not prepared to implement the corrective measures identified in the current or future housing element, then, given the financial and economic situation that we are in, use those funds to reduce the deficit.  Unfortunately, that is not likely to happen because Administration and the Council have already assigned the contract.
Benjamin Cantu
April 10, 2009