State Requires City to Provide Almost 1,800 More Low-Income Housing Units

By James Ott

The City of Antioch will need to find adequate sites for 1,784 low-income housing units to meet state demands.

According to a report by Vivian Kahn of urban consulting firm Dyett and Bhatia at the city’s last council meeting, the city is dealing with a shortfall of adequate low-income housing sites from its previous housing cycle that ran from 1996 to 2006.

Antioch doesn’t have to build the housing but needs to have adequate space identified to meet the Association of Bay Area Government’s (ABAG), so called Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).

As Part of Antioch’s General Plan the city adopted a Housing Element to bring the city into compliance with such state housing laws.

ABAG has said that in Antioch’s current housing cycle planning period – 2007 to 2014 – the city’s share of the RHNA is 2,282 housing units, including 339 low-income and 516 very low-income units, so Antioch has had to identify space to accommodate those housing units.

The good news is that Antioch has already found the space for most of those requirements through such state accepted moves like identifying available vacant land as well as adding up applicable housing projects that are already in progress.

But due to the previous cycle’s shortfall, the city now has to find room for 1,380 more low income housing units, for a total of 1,784 units.

According to Kahn’s report she and her firm have provided some potential solutions to the issue.

Because state law says that 30 units per acre is the “default density” that will make low income housing feasible and affordable, Kahn suggest rezoning at least 60 acres to accommodate for the remaining low-income units.

Although a study found that a density of closer to between 20 and 30 units per acre would be more feasible in a place like Antioch, Kahn says that the state allows density bonuses that would make up the difference.

Kahn said that the city could accommodate all of the low income units by zoning 60 acres at 30 units per acre subject to a use permit, or it could rezone partly at 30 units an acre and accommodate the balance at 20 units an acre by right.

The city’s Housing Element and the Planning Commission have apparently found a total of 106 acres at 13 different sites that could potentially meet the city’s need.

Five of the 13 potential sites are clustered fairly close to the water with the remaining sites spread throughout the city.

Although finding space for the remaining 1,784 low-income units is the most obvious issue, Dyett and Bhatia and Kahn were hired to make clear all aspects of the state’s imposed housing regulations and provide solutions, including issues like emergency, transitional and supportive housing needs.

So Kahn’s presentation also outlined a few other needs the city must meet in order to be in full compliance with all state housing laws.

One of those needs is 124 emergency shelter beds for the homeless that Kahn suggests creating an overlay district for. An overlay district is a district with an additional zoning requirement that doesn’t change the area’s original zoning.

As part of her presentation Kahn also proposed amending zoning codes to allow for transitional and supportive housing for residential use. And she proposed that the city provide additional incentives to encourage affordable housing in Antioch’s Rivertown area.

Council Member Gary Agopian was critical of the whole process of allocating space for housing units that may or may not be needed.

Agopian argued that it was ABAG’s projections for the amount of housing cities must plan for is flawed.

“Our population’s 103,000 and change and it was essentially 103,000 and change in 07 so it hasn’t changed very much at all. And ABAG calculates our allocation… based on what we’re going to grow and we didn’t grow. In addition to that, not a lot of houses were built. And yet we’re still required by the state to designate or plan for areas to accommodate growth that isn’t even occurring. So am I to understand that if we don’t grow in the next two or three years that we’ll continue to accrue allocations; that we have to continue to plan… I mean, where’s the end of that?”

Kahn said that ABAG is supposed to release updated projections in light of such issues like the economic downturn, but she said that she understands the frustration because the process isn’t easy, but it’s the law and so has to be complied with.

Kahn also said that she hears similar complaints about state housing laws and ABAG’s processes from nearly every city and county she has worked in.

Also at the Meeting:

City Council voted unanimously to extend its interim urgency zoning ordinance blocking any new computer gaming and internet access business from being established in the city to 10 months and 15 days.

On February 28 the city had originally voted in the ordinance that also established certain operational regulations that such current related businesses had to follow. The move was intended to give the city time to investigate concerns and alleged problems with such businesses including criminal activity, public disturbances and concerns about the businesses potential impact on minors in the city.

City staff said that the extra time is needed because of the complexity of the issues and the lack of adequate staffing on the project.

2 Comments to “State Requires City to Provide Almost 1,800 More Low-Income Housing Units”

  1. Bill says:

    Well said Mr. Agopian!

    I’ll also add that there was a time when you didn’t see residents walking/jogging with golf clubs and bats.

  2. Fanxiong Wang says:

    If the city really wants to meet the state quota for the low income housing units, it should first set a city ordinance regarding the number of properties that are for Section 8 rentals. Don’t you agree that people on Section 8 are low income families and that Antioch has already had way too many Section 8 rentals in it?

Leave a Reply