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CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 14

Meeting Date: May 10, 2005

Subject/Title: Approval of General Plan Amendment (GPA 02-01) Adopting the General Plan Housing Element Update – State-Mandated Revisions

Prepared by: Winston Rhodes, Senior Planner / Heidi Kline, Planning Manager
Submitted by: Howard Sword, Community Development Director

RECOMMENDATION
Staff recommends approving a Resolution to adopt the General Plan Housing Element Update with State-Mandated Revisions.

BACKGROUND
In November 2004, the City Council approved an update to the City’s Housing Element (GP 02-01) with revisions that staff felt addressed recent statutory requirements of the State’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). However, the City received notification in February 2005 (see attached letter) that these revisions did not adequately address all the state-mandated Housing Element requirements. Staff has continued to work with HCD to address these outstanding issues. On April 19, 2005, the City received a letter from HCD (see attached letter) that the outstanding issues had been addressed through the agreed-upon draft revisions. The April 19 letter mentions that the suggested revisions have been approved by the State and the City’s Housing Element will be found in compliance with State Law by HCD when the draft revisions are adopted by the City.

It should be noted that until such time as the City adopts this (a State-approved) Housing Element, the City is not eligible to receive Measure C – Local Street Maintenance and Improvement Funds. In December 2004, the City learned that approximately $347,579 in Measure C transportation funds, for Fiscal Year 2003-04 would be delayed because the Housing Element was not deemed by HCD to be in compliance with State Housing Element Law. The City also learned that it was not ineligible for approximately $350,000 in 2003-04 State Workforce Housing Reward Program grant funds because the City did not have its Housing Element deemed in compliance with State law by HCD. Once the Council approves these revisions to the Housing Element, staff will forward the adopted Housing Element to Contra Costa County Transportation Authority (CCTA) along with the Growth Management Checklist (to be presented for adoption at the next City Council meeting). After these items are reviewed and approved by the CCTA Board, a check for the FY 2003-04 transportation funds would be sent to the City. Another approximately $360,000 for the FY2004-05 Measure C funds would be sent automatically during the next cycle.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION
The Housing Element is a mandatory element of the City’s General Plan and is required to be periodically updated. It is the only Element required to be reviewed by the State. Recent laws passed by the legislature concerning Housing Elements are geared towards removing the roadblocks and constraints for building housing in order to ensure an adequate housing supply to address the needs of California’s population and continued economic growth. The Housing Element also is required to set forth the City’s policies for the production of housing for all income levels throughout the community based on existing community housing needs and State Law.

ANALYSIS
This Housing Element Update was reviewed and recommended for approval in February 2002 by the Planning Commission. The draft document was forwarded to HCD for preliminary review and approval. HCD made substantial comments on the draft document requiring extensive research and the inclusion of additional new information. The draft document was then revised to address HCD’s comments, including more updated demographic and housing market information, a better description the City’s development review process, and reflecting the City’s efforts to provide high quality housing for all economic groups throughout the City from1999 through 2004. This revised draft was forwarded to the Council in November 2004 for adoption. As stated above, staff felt that it had adequately addressed HCD’s comments. However, in December 2004, HCD notified the City that additional revisions were necessary. Staff has completed these last remaining revisions and received confirmation from the State (see attached letter) that it has satisfied the requirements and the Housing Element, with the revisions described below, is approved by HCD. Staff has provided a copy of these revisions to the Planning Commission for review at its April 19, 2005 meeting.

The revisions are shown in the attached General Plan text in gray highlighting. The highlights of the changes are as follows:

1) Site Availability for Higher Density Housing – An additional 20.0 acres of land within the City would be designated for Very High Density Residential land use allowing 20.1 to 30.0 dwelling per acre by right provided design review approval is obtained. The proposed areas include 13.0 acres next to Jeffery Way and the Highway 4 Bypass and 7 acres in SPA “A” at Sand Creek Road and Brentwood Boulevard.

The 13.0 acres (2 sites) next to Jeffery Way currently have a General Plan land use designation of Mixed Use Business Park. However, an application was filed in July 2004 to change an approximately 5.0 acre site from Mixed Use Business Park to High Density Residential for a market-rate apartment complex and the owner of the other 13.0 acre site has expressed a desire to also build an apartment or condominium complex on his site. The other potential Very High Density Residential site would be located within SPA “A” at a site to be determined later in conjunction with the Brentwood Boulevard Corridor Specific Plan and would be available for an ownership or rental residential development proposal. While HCD required that these areas be permitted to develop at a density of up to 30 dus/ acre, it is unlikely that such density would be proposed given current market conditions and prevailing land values. The current proposal for development of an apartment complex on one of these three sites is for a project with a density of approximately 20 dus/ acre. The State does not require the community to develop the sites at the 30 dus/ acre, rather it requires the City to allow it should it be proposed. Staff does not believe such a proposal (30 dus/ acre) would be built. Most of the condominium and apartment proposals being discussed about by developers have densities closer to 20-22 dus/ acre.

2) Mid-range density – HCD had concerns about the potential effect of the current mid-range density policy within the General Plan to be used to prevent development of higher density housing proposals. Consequently, a policy revision has been included that eliminates the mid-range density for the Very High Density Residential land use designation only. In addition, an action program (1.1.1) has been added obligating the City to monitor whether the midrange density requirement for all other housing densities poses a constraint or impediment to new residential development.

Removing the midrange density requirement for Very High Density Residential would not result, in staff’s opinion, in greater proposed residential densities as the economics of the construction methods for complexes with greater than 20 dus/ acre currently preclude the construction of such units in Brentwood. Also, it should be noted that the City’s RGMP process requires developers seeking an allocation for construction of future residential units to construct or contribute substantial amenities. Therefore, the elimination of the General Plan midrange density for Very High Density sites will not decrease the quality or range of amenities within future development proposals that is necessary to reach minimum RGMP scores for an allocation. In addition, Very High Density housing proposals will be subject to design review approval and the City will retain its ability to require high quality, attractive development that is compatible with adjacent development.

3) Residential Design Guidelines – The revisions include an action program (1.2.6) to prepare and adopt residential design guidelines to help guide future residential construction and provide a clear description of community expectations with respect to all new residential development. The current City guidelines would be expanded upon to provide guidance for new residential developers and improve processing times.

The City currently has a general set of design guidelines for residential projects and has tentatively budgeted money to expand these design guidelines to provide more detailed direction to developers during the early design phase of their project.

4) Create default zoning standards for all “shell” Planned Developments – HCD had concerns about the effect of requiring developers to amend a planned development (PD) zone and add project-specific development standards for residential projects within these zones. HCD cited the lack off certainty for developers who must obtain Council approval of PD amendments and the State requirement that the City have adequate land zoned to meet identified housing needs as the reason for why the City must establish default zoning standards for “shell” PDs in advance of a specific development proposal. The City’s PD approach has been utilized by the City over many years to provide greater flexibility and develop customized zoning standards for new residential subdivisions in order to encourage more creative and distinctive development than could otherwise be achieved with standard zoning districts.

While staff believes that the flexibility granted to developers to create their own project-specific development standards in the City’s many “shell” PDs facilitates rather than discourages development, HCD does not. Therefore, staff has agreed to devise default development standards (e.g. building setbacks, lot size, height requirements etc.), that would be available should a developer desire to use them. It’s likely that these standards would be similar to those in many of Brentwood’s existing neighborhoods. However, developers would still have the opportunity to amend the PD to create customized development standards that may be more appropriate for the site or their particular housing product.

All proposed General Plan changes and rezonings necessary to implement these policy revisions would require review and approval by both the Planning Commission and City Council. It is anticipated that these changes would be completed by the end of the year in accordance with commitments made to HCD.

FISCAL IMPACT
Adoption and subsequent certification of the Housing Element Update by HCD will make the City eligible for several important funding opportunities. A total of $347,579 in Measure C transportation funds for FY 2003-04 would be forthcoming upon approval of the CCTA Growth Management Program checklist and future Measure C funding allocations for FY 2004-05 through FY 2006-07 of approximately $1 million would be available to the City. In addition, the City would be eligible for State Workforce Housing Reward grant funds for having a State-approved Housing Element and approving various affordable housing units.

Attachments:
Resolution
EIR Addendum Determination Memo
February 14, 2005 HCD Letter
April 19, 2005 HCD Letter

CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION NO.

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD APPROVING STATE-MANDATED REVISIONS FOR A GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT (GPA 02-01) TO UPDATE THE CITY’S HOUSING ELEMENT OF THE GENERAL PLAN.

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, the City of Brentwood last updated its Housing Element in 1998 which was reviewed and approved by the City Council of the City of Brentwood by passage of Resolution 98-198; and

WHEREAS, this Housing Element Update is required to comply with State Housing Element Law and summarize the progress that has been made in attaining the City’s share of the regional housing need and to maintain the City’s eligibility to receive available State and Federal “pass-through” dollars; and

WHEREAS, said Housing Element Update must be submitted to the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for their mandated review; and

WHEREAS, the Brentwood Planning Commission has previously reviewed the General Plan Amendment consisting of an update to Housing Element of the General Plan; and

WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Brentwood approved an update of the Housing Element on November 9, 2004 by passage of Resolution 2004-267; and

WHEREAS, the City in accordance with State Law referred this General Plan Amendment to HCD in November 2004 for a mandatory review; and

WHEREAS, the City received a letter from HCD in February 2005 that further revisions were needed to bring the adopted Housing Element into compliance with State law; and

WHEREAS, the City worked cooperatively with HCD to address remaining compliance issues and received notification in April 2005 that with the revisions highlighted in Exhibit A the Housing Element will be in compliance with State law; and

WHEREAS, based upon Section 15164(b) of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines, an EIR Addendum was prepared for this Housing Element Update; and

WHEREAS, said EIR Addendum relies on Section 15162 of the CEQA Guidelines in determining that additional environmental analysis is not necessary and that the original environmental analysis, mitigation measures and findings adopted in the prior EIR are still applicable; and

WHEREAS, a duly noticed public hearing was advertised in the Brentwood Press on April 15, 2005, and posted as required by City ordinance and Government Code Sec. 65090; and

WHEREAS, the Brentwood City Council has considered the Housing Element Update in accordance with CEQA and the above mentioned environmental documents; and

WHEREAS, the Brentwood City Council held a public hearing on May 10, 2005, to review the proposed Housing Element revisions negotiated with HCD and considered public testimony on the Housing Element Update.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Brentwood:

1. Certifies that the Housing Element Update EIR Addendum together with the General Plan EIR have been prepared in compliance with CEQA and adequately addresses the environmental impacts of this update; and

2. Finds that the Housing Element Update, attached as Exhibit A and made a part of this resolution, is consistent with and implements the General Plan; and

3. Finds that this Housing Element Update is internally consistent with other elements of the General Plan; and

4. Finds that the Housing Element Update described in Exhibit A adequately addresses existing community concerns about the equitable distribution of housing for all income levels throughout the City and is hereby incorporated into the existing General Plan; and

5. Directs staff to forward the Housing Element Update to HCD.

PASSED AND ACCEPTED by the City Council of the City of Brentwood at its regular meeting of May 10, 2005 by the following vote:

Attachments:
Exhibit A – Housing Element Update

EXHIBIT “A” TO
CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION NO.
HOUSING ELEMENT UPDATE

MEMORANDUM

DATE: May 10, 2005

TO: Mayor and Council Members

FROM: Community Development Department (H. Sword/H. Kline/W. Rhodes)

SUBJECT: CEQA Determination – Addendum to General Plan Environmental Impact Report for the 2004 Housing Element Update (General Plan Amendment 02-01)

On June 9, 1993, the Brentwood City Council certified a Final EIR which addressed the environmental impacts of a comprehensive update of the City’s General Plan. On November 10, 1998, the City Council certified that a Housing Element Update EIR Addendum, together with the General Plan EIR, adequately addressed the environmental impacts associated with the previous Housing Element Update.

On November 27, 2001, the City Council certified a second Environmental Impact Report for the General Plan Update (GPU) of the Land Use, Circulation, and Growth Management Elements of the General Plan. The Final EIR prepared by the City for the 1993 General Plan and 2001 GPU identified potentially significant environmental effects which could feasibly be mitigated or avoided. Such effects and corresponding mitigation measures are identified in the Final EIR, and are incorporated herein by reference. The GPU mitigation measures and mitigation monitoring program are listed in the Final EIR. The Final EIR determined that all significant environmental effects with the exception of four discussed below can feasibly be avoided, have been avoided, or reduced to a level of insignificance.

The Final EIR identified the significant impacts on the environment that cannot be avoided or mitigated to a level of insignificance and adopted a statement of overriding considerations when the Final EIR was certified which justified why the merits of the GPU outweighed the unavoidable significant impacts. Pursuant to Section 15164(b) of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines, the City of Brentwood, as lead agency for this project, has determined that an addendum to the adopted Final EIR be prepared for this General Plan Amendment, as only minor technical changes or additions are necessary and none of the conditions described in CEQA Section 15162 calling for the preparation of a subsequent EIR have occurred. The General Plan Amendment will not result in new additional impacts on the environment, in that the project involves no physical changes to the environment and is consistent with the existing General Plan Elements approved per the prior EIR.

Pursuant to CEQA Section 15162(a)(1), there are no substantial changes proposed in the project which will require major revisions of the previous EIR due to the involvement of new significant environmental effects or a substantial increase in the severity of previously identified significant effects.

Section 15162(a)(2) – There are no substantial changes with respect to the circumstances under which the General Plan Amendment is undertaken which will require major revisions of the previous EIR due to the involvement of new significant environmental effects or a substantial increase in the severity of previously identified significant effects.

Section 15162(a)(3) – No new information of substantial importance, which was not known and could not have been known with the exercise of reasonable diligence at the time the previous EIR was adopted, shows any of the following:

(A) The project will not have one or more significant effects not discussed in the previous EIR;

(B) Significant effects previously examined will not be substantially more severe than shown in the previous EIR;

(C) There are no mitigation measures previously found not to be feasible which would in fact be feasible and would not substantially reduce one or more significant effects of the project;

(D) There are no mitigation measures which are considerably different from those analyzed in the previous EIR that would substantially reduce one or more significant effects of the environment.

Section 15162(b) – Since there are no significant changes to the project or its circumstances, and no new information has become available after adoption of the EIR, the City, as lead agency has determined to prepare an addendum to the EIR.

Section 15164(c) – The addendum is hereby attached to the adopted EIR.

Section 15164(d) – The City Council shall consider this addendum with the adopted EIR prior to making a decision on the General Plan Amendment.

Accordingly, this determination has been prepared pursuant to Sections 15162 and 15164 of the CEQA Guidelines that an addendum to the previously adopted EIR will adequately satisfy the requirements of CEQA. This memorandum, along with the attached previously adopted document, will constitute an addendum to the EIR for the purposes of compliance with CEQA.

In making this determination, the City has also determined that none of the conditions specified in Section 15162 of the CEQA Guidelines, which call for the preparation of a subsequent environmental document, are present with respect to the current project. Additionally, it is further determined that the original environmental analysis, mitigation measures and findings adopted in the prior EIR are still applicable.

Attachments:
Final EIR City of Brentwood General Plan Update SCH # 2000122013 – Available for review within the Community Development Department
 

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