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CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 25

Meeting Date: August 28, 2001

Subject/Title: Consideration of an amendment to Housing Element of the General Plan to allow new multi-family development within the Downtown. 

Submitted by: Mitch Oshinsky, AICP, Community Development Director

Approved by: Jon Elam, City Manager


RECOMMENDATION
Adopt Resolution No. ____, approving the amendment of the Housing Element.

PREVIOUS ACTION
In 1998, the City Council adopted a Housing Element Update, the main intent of which was to preclude new multi-family residential development within neighborhoods exhibiting an over-concentration of lower income households. Subsequently, Council authorized staff to initiate this amendment to allow new multi-family housing Downtown.

BACKGROUND
As the result of two large multi-family developments proposed in 1996 (Marsh Creek Apartments and Brentwood Park Apartments), Brentwood residents and the City Council became concerned about an apparent over concentration of lower income housing in the eastern part of the City, including Downtown. In response, the City had a study done to accurately measure whether there was an imbalance of housing types, and if so, to what degree. The study concluded that several areas in the City, mostly east of the railroad tracks had a statistically significant concentration of lower income households.

As a result, an Update of the Housing Element was completed and adopted by Council in February 1998, based on recommendations from the Housing Element Subcommittee, and Planning Commission. The key language is:

· New multi-family development within neighborhoods exhibiting an over-concentration of lower income households is to be considered inconsistent with the General Plan Housing Element.

Over the past months, we have received several contacts from people interested in developing multi-family housing in or adjacent to the Downtown. Some of the requests have been for senior housing, some for housing above retail buildings, and some for free standing family apartments. We have had to inform all these people that such uses are not permitted.

There is great value to the health of a Downtown in creating a base of residential development in and around it, to add life, activity and patrons. A number of cities, including Mountain View and Ventura have recently adopted policies, which have successfully attracted higher density housing to their downtown’s to help maintain and enhance their character.

Some time ago, the City Council authorized staff to initiate such an amendment to allow new multi-family development within the downtown areas, which exhibit an over-concentration of lower income households, if such development fits within one of the following criteria:

· Replaces existing blighted residences.
· Provides new residences above nonresidential uses.
· Provides new senior housing.

Council also concurred with the staff recommendation that the downtown area in which such new multi-family residential development would be permitted is the area bounded on the north by Sycamore Avenue, on the south by Balfour Road, on the west by Brentwood Blvd., and on the east by Sellers Avenue.

These criteria are reflected in the attached Resolution, as follows (added text underlined):

POLICY 3.3 – Manage new housing development within neighborhoods (defined as census block groups) exhibiting an over-concentration of lower income households based on the following criteria:

· Permit only such residential development as is consistent with City development policies and which does not have a specific, unmitigated adverse impact upon public health or safety.

· New multi-family development within neighborhoods exhibiting an over-concentration of lower income households is to be considered inconsistent with the General Plan Housing Element, except for new multi-family development with the area bounded on the north by Sycamore Avenue, on the south by Balfour Road, on the west by Brentwood Blvd., and on the east by Sellers Avenue; and if such development fits within one of the following criteria:

· Replaces existing blighted residences.
· Provides new residences above nonresidential uses.
· Provides new senior housing. 

The Planning Commission has reviewed this amendment, and recommends approval to the City Council. As required, we have sent a draft of the proposal to the State Department of Housing and Community Development for their review. In approving it, they “commend the City for approving additional multifamily development in central City areas, an ideal spot for senior housing and, as you have discovered, a method to enhance the vitality of the City center. . . We appreciate the City’s diligence in providing additional housing opportunities. . .” 

The City Manager and I believe such an approach would be beneficial for our Downtown. If Council agrees, it would be appropriate to approve the amendment of Housing Element Policy 3.3, to exempt the Downtown from the prohibition on multi-family housing. 




RESOLUTION NO. 

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD APPROVING GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT 00-06 TO AMEND THE HOUSING ELEMENT.


WHEREAS, the State of California has mandated that cities prepare, adopt and maintain a comprehensive Housing Element of their General Plan to be prepared in accordance with Section 65580 et seq. of the Government Code; and

WHEREAS, as the result of recent developments, Brentwood residents and decision makers have expressed concern regarding the increasing concentration of low income households in the eastern portion of the City; and 

WHEREAS, in response to these concerns, the City commissioned a Low Income Concentration Study, which was completed in November 1996, and which concluded that Brentwood did have a significant concentration of lower income households within the eastern portion of the City; and

WHEREAS, the 1996 study recommended that the City should consider emphasizing market rate housing development within those neighborhoods that contain disproportionate concentrations of lower income households and identifying additional housing sites for low/moderate income housing in other areas of the City where such housing would be appropriate; and

WHEREAS, this conclusion was based on the finding that several neighborhood census block groups in the City had a statistically significant concentration of lower income households; and

WHEREAS, based on this conclusion, the City Council commissioned a Housing Element Update, which was adopted in November 1998, and which precluded new multi-family development within neighborhoods exhibiting an over concentration of lower income households; and

WHEREAS, in the 1993 Housing Element Update, multiple family development was purposefully designated near the downtown for several reasons, including:

· High density residential development would provide a ready market to support downtown area businesses.
· Multiple family residential development would be appropriate along the busy State Highway 4, and could serve as a buffer between the highway and single family areas.
· It is typically appropriate to locate multi-family development near the center of the City in close proximity to shopping, public transportation routes, and public services (e.g., City Hall, library, etc.); and

WHEREAS, Over the past months, the City has received several contacts from people interested in developing multi-family housing in or adjacent to the downtown. Some of the requests have been for senior housing, some for housing above retail buildings, and some for free standing family apartments. The City has had to inform all these people that such uses are not permitted; and 

WHEREAS, there is great value to the health of a downtown in creating a base of residential development in and around it, to add life, activity and patrons. A number of cities, including Mountain View and Ventura have recently adopted policies which have successfully attracted higher density housing to their downtown’s to help maintain and enhance their character; and 

WHEREAS, on September 12, 2000, the City Council considered these issues and authorized staff to initiate an amendment of the Housing Element to allow new multi-family development within the downtown areas which exhibit an over-concentration of lower income households, if such development fits within one of the following criteria:

· Replaces existing blighted residences.
· Provides new residences above nonresidential uses.
· Provides new senior housing; and

WHEREAS, Council also concurred with the staff recommendation that the downtown area in which such new multi-family residential development would be permitted is the area bounded on the north by Sycamore Avenue, on the south by Balfour Road, on the west by Brentwood Blvd., and on the east by Sellers Avenue; and

WHEREAS, as part of the preliminary review of this Amendment, the City has determined that it is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), in that pursuant to Section 15061(a)(3) of CEQA, it is covered by the general rule that CEQA applies only to projects, which have the potential for causing a significant effect on the environment. This Amendment would have no such effect as it merely restores a portion of the area originally designated for multi-family housing in the 1993 Housing Element, and as analyzed in the certified General Plan Environmental Impact Report SCH #92063113, and will only allow for the benefits of greater opportunities for provision of affordable housing as promulgated by State law; and

WHEREAS, on October 17, 2000, the Planning Commission held a public hearing and considered General Plan Amendment 00-06 consisting of a minor amendment to the Housing Element, and all information provided in the staff report, discussion by the Planning Commission, and public comments received; and

WHEREAS, following the close of the public hearing, the Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of this amendment to the City Council; and

WHEREAS, the State Department of Housing and Community Development has reviewed and approved the draft amendment, and commended the City on it’s diligence and cooperation; and

WHEREAS, a duly noticed public hearing of the City Council was provided as required by City and State law; and

WHEREAS, on August 28, 2001, the City Council held a public hearing and considered General Plan Amendment 00-06 consisting of a minor amendment to the Housing Element, and all information provided in the staff report, discussion by the Council, and public comments received. 

NOW THEREFORE, the City Council:

1. Finds that the minor Housing Element Amendment shown below is consistent with and implements the General Plan; and

2. Finds that the Amendment is internally consistent with the General Plan; and 

3. Approves the Amendment as follows: 

The General Plan Housing Element dated November 30, 1998, is hereby amended as follows (added text underlined):

POLICY 3.3 – Manage new housing development within neighborhoods (defined as census block groups) exhibiting an over-concentration of lower income households based on the following criteria:

· Permit only such residential development as is consistent with City development policies and which does not have a specific, unmitigated adverse impact upon public health or safety.

· New multi-family development within neighborhoods exhibiting an over-concentration of lower income households is to be considered inconsistent with the General Plan Housing Element, except for new multi-family development with the area bounded on the north by Sycamore Avenue, on the south by Balfour Road, on the west by Brentwood Blvd., and on the east by Sellers Avenue; and if such development fits within one of the following criteria:

· Replaces existing blighted residences.
· Provides new residences above nonresidential uses.
· Provides new senior housing. 

PASSED by the City Council on August 28, 2001 by the following vote:

AYES:
NOES:
ABSENT:
ABSTAIN:

Michael A. McPoland, Sr. Mayor

ATTEST:
___________________
Karen Diaz, CMC
City Clerk

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