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CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 14

Meeting Date: August 9, 2005

Subject/Title: A General Plan Amendment to modify the text within the Housing Element in relation to condominium conversions to establish a policy for the conversion of existing apartment rental units into condominium units.

Prepared by: Debbie Hill, Associate Planner

Submitted by: Howard Sword, Community Development Director

RECOMMENDATION
The Planning Commission and staff are recommending the City Council approve a resolution for a General Plan Amendment which will modify the text within the Housing Element to establish a policy for the conversion of existing apartment rental units into condominium units.

PREVIOUS ACTION
At the Council meeting of May 10, 2005, staff recommended and the Council voted to approve a motion directing staff to prepare a General Plan Amendment and Zoning Ordinance Amendment in order to establish criteria for the conversion of apartment units into condominium units.

BACKGROUND
Due to the increasing sales prices of homes within the Bay Area, many communities are experiencing a marked increase in the requests by developers to convert existing apartment rental units into “for sale” condominium units.

Rapidly growing suburban communities, such as Brentwood, tend to attract younger families. As the community matures, its school-age children grow up and begin forming their own households. Typically, these children will be searching for rental developments within the community. Additionally, rental units are necessary to provide work-force housing for households unable to purchase homes, provide short-term housing for people relocating to our community from other areas, and for seniors, special needs, and others who either by choice or not reside in units where the maintenance and other ownership responsibilities are handled by the owner or a management company.

In order to prevent the loss of its available and diverse rental housing units within the community, the City Council directed staff to explore proposed General Plan policy and a Condominium Conversion ordinance for its consideration. As Brentwood has only recently developed a diverse rental housing stock, it has not yet adopted a condominium conversion ordinance. Most cities within California have adopted condominium conversion ordinances as part of their zoning code.

ANALYSIS
The recently approved Housing Element includes an action program to adopt a condominium conversion ordinance. In addition to this direction, staff feels it is necessary to move forward with this General Plan Amendment at this time, as well as a condominium conversion ordinance, due to the number of inquiries received as to the process for conversion of existing apartment stock into condominium units.

Staff believes it is imperative that a policy addressing this issue be placed within the General Plan in a timely manner. Without a General Plan policy in place, all of the City’s apartment units could be converted to condominiums, or more likely, all of the newer apartment complexes could be converted to condominium units. If this were to occur, the available rental stock could be disproportionately older apartment units with limited amenities, small unit sizes, and older construction. With the housing prices constantly on the rise within the community today, the incentive for developers to convert apartment units into condominiums is very high.

It is vital to the community to maintain an adequate supply of rental options, including unit sizes (number of bedrooms and other living area configurations), prices, amenities (handicap-accessibility, carports/garages, pools, community room, on-site laundry facilities, etc.), tenure (older and newer units), and location (close to downtown, jobs, family members, etc.) to serve the housing needs of its residents and provide choices.

The proposed policy and planned ordinance would not prohibit condominium conversions, nor would it necessarily be desirable to do so as condominiums are an attractive housing opportunity for those desiring to get a foothold in the ownership housing market. However, based on the current advertised prices ($400,000s) for the Coppergate project on Sand Creek Road, they are not necessarily affordable to low- and moderate-income households nor do they meet the needs of all potential renters in terms of unit size, amenities, etc. The intent of the proposed language is to enable the City to limit the number of conversions to ensure that adequate rental units remain to meet the needs of the community.

Staff has formulated language to address this issue. The new policy (Policy 1.4) will provide that applications be evaluated to ascertain whether there would be an adequate mix of apartment units maintained with various unit sizes, amenities, tenure, and location. This policy would prevent the conversion of mostly newer apartments leaving only older apartment stock available. In addition, the policy includes an action program to mitigate existing tenant displacement and would require moving assistance and/or other measures to ensure the minimization of any negative impacts to the tenants by any conversion.

It should be noted that unless the City adopts specific General Plan language regarding condominium conversions, it cannot deny an application for a conversion based on the State-specified Map Act findings, one of those being that the proposed plan conforms to the City’s General Plan and Zoning Code. Once this General Plan Amendment has been approved, staff will be returning to the Planning Commission and City Council with a Municipal Code zoning ordinance for their consideration setting forth specific criteria for conversions which will implement this General Plan policy.

State HCED

All changes to the City’s Housing Element must be approved by the State Department of Housing and Community Development. Staff has forwarded the proposed condominium conversion language to the Department and received approval for the change in the attached letter, dated August 2, 2005.

FISCAL IMPACT
None. This Council resolution in itself will not create a fiscal impact.

Attachments:
City Council Resolution ____
HCED letter dated August 2, 2005

CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION NO. ____

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD RECOMMENDING THAT THE CITY COUNCIL APPROVE A GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT (GPA 05-04) TO MODIFY THE TEXT WITHIN THE HOUSING ELEMENT TO ADDRESS THE CONVERSION OF RENTAL APARTMENT UNITS INTO CONDOMINIUM FOR SALE UNITS, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE ADOPTION OF A NEGATIVE DECLARATION. THIS PROJECT AFFECTS ALL RESIDENTIALLY ZONED LAND WITHIN THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD.

WHEREAS, the City of Brentwood has requested approval of a General Plan Amendment for all residentially zoned land within the city limits in order to establish policies for condominium conversions; and

WHEREAS, the applicant is requesting a General Plan Amendment to modify the text of the Housing Element of the General Plan to include a policy on condominium conversions; and

WHEREAS, an Initial Study and Negative Declaration were prepared for this project in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and are considered a part of this review and approval process; and

WHEREAS, the Negative Declaration identified no potentially significant environmental effects associated with the proposed project and therefore a De Minimus Impact Finding has been prepared for the Department of Fish and Game; and

WHEREAS, the availability of said environmental document for the minimum 20-day public review and comment period was begun on June 23, 2005, and ended on July 12, 2005, and any comments received during the review period have been responded to; and

WHEREAS, a Notice of Public Hearing was published in the Brentwood Press on July 29, 2005, in accordance with City policies and Government Code Section 65090; and

WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Brentwood held a public hearing on this project at its regular meeting of August 9, 2005; and

WHEREAS, the City Council has considered the staff report, Negative Declaration, supporting documents, public testimony, and all appropriate information that has been submitted with the proposed project and finds that:

1. The proposed General Plan Amendment has been processed in accordance with the applicable provisions of the California Government Code and the California Environmental Quality Act; and

2. The project will serve the housing needs of the City and the region and will not create a detrimental imbalance between the public service needs of its residents and available fiscal and environmental resources (Government Code Section 65863.6); and

3. The General Plan Amendment, in the manner proposed, will not be detrimental to the public welfare, will be in the best interests of the City, and will be consistent with the Zoning Ordinance and with the City's General Plan, including all relevant Elements thereof, and with any applicable Specific Plan adopted by the City.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Brentwood hereby further finds and determines as follows:

1. That the Negative Declaration for the project has been prepared and circulated in accordance with all applicable provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act and represents the independent judgment of the City of Brentwood; and

2. Pursuant to Sections 15162 and 15168(c) of the CEQA Guidelines, the City Council finds that the project is within the scope of the development levels evaluated in the Program EIR prepared for the City of Brentwood General Plan. The Initial Study has not identified any potential project-specific impacts to the environment. Based on this evidence and the Negative Declaration, this City Council finds that the project will not have any significant environmental impacts that were not studied in the Program EIR. The Negative Declaration confirms and strengthens the Program EIR measures. Therefore, the Negative Declaration as well as the Program EIR for the General Plan are adequate for all approvals relating to the project and a De Minimum Impact Finding has been prepared for the Department of Fish and Game; and

3. That no significant new information within the meaning of Public Resources Code Section 21092.1 and CEQA Guidelines Section 15088.5 has been presented to the City that would necessitate re-circulation of the Negative Declaration for public review. The City Council has considered all verbal and written comments relating to the Negative Declaration and finds no significant new information has arisen.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Brentwood does hereby take the following actions:

1. Approves the Negative Declaration prepared for this project; and

2. Approves General Plan Amendment No. 05-04 implementing a General Plan Policy for the conversion of apartments into condominium units as described in Exhibit “A”.

PASSED by the City Council of the City of Brentwood at its regular meeting of August 9, 2005, by the following vote:

EXHIBIT “A” TO
CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION NO. ____
PROPOSED TEXT FOR GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT 05-04

Insert the following Policy and Action Programs on Page II of the Housing Element:

POLICY 1.4 – Ensure that available multi-family rental units for Brentwood’s population include an adequate variety of choices of tenure, price, unit sizes, amenities, and location of housing in the community and maintain an adequate supply of rental housing available to low- and moderate-income persons. Minimize displacement of tenants, particularly seniors, disabled, and low- and moderate-income residents, in rental apartments and encourage ownership of lower-cost residential units by prior renters through the regulation of condominium conversions.

Action Programs: 1.4.1 – Condominium Conversion Ordinance: Adopt a condominium conversion ordinance to regulate conversions of multi-family units and to mitigate tenant displacement and minimize displacement of seniors, disabled, and low- and moderate-income residents. Require moving assistance and other means to minimize hardship of persons displaced by condominium conversions.

1.4.2 – Monitoring of Rental Unit Opportunities: Adopt findings as part of a condominium conversion unit requiring that a proposed conversion would not result in an disproportionate balance of available rental housing with a variety of choices in tenure, price, unit sizes, amenities, and location in the community.

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