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Mountain View looks to update affordable-housing rules

Future rowhouses to be subsidized for 'missing middle' families with higher than median incomes

A family of four earning as much as $188,000 could soon be eligible for subsidized housing in Mountain View. In an effort to provide more opportunities to help the city's so-called "missing middle," City Council members last week pushed to significantly expand the income requirements to qualify for some types of affordable housing.

The proposed changes came during a May 14 study session on a variety of changes to Mountain View's below-market-rate housing guidelines.

Among the new tweaks, future rowhouse projects built in Mountain View would be encouraged to include below-market housing priced for home buyers earning up to 50% over the median income for Santa Clara County. By including higher earners, elected leaders pointed out they would be helping many middle-class families who earn decent salaries but are still unable to afford the mortgage on a home.

City officials said they would seek to stagger the below-market-rate housing for future rowhouse developments, including a variety of income level qualifications. On average, housing will target households earning 120% of the median income.

"The affordability gap has increased so much that we have to do this to help more people get into ownership units," said Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga. "In North Bayshore or East Whisman, we're talking about micro-units and one-bedroom studios, and it's skewing the demographics of our community."

Under the new rules discussed by the council, future rowhouse projects would be required to set aside at least 20% of their units as below-market-rate housing. Even with that obligation, city staff said that rowhouse projects in Mountain View would remain quite profitable a single home can fetch about $1.65 million in the current market, according to a city-commissioned study. Overall, rowhouse developers are expected to see about a 25% profit margin even though one out of five homes in any future project would be subsidized, the study said.

The stricter affordable housing requirements come as the city has faced withering criticism in recent months for allowing a series of rent-controlled apartments to be torn down in order to build a smaller number of rowhouses. That issue didn't come up at the May 14 meeting, but council members have highlighted it as part of their goal-setting session.

Under the city's newly proposed guidelines, other forms of ownership housing, such as condominiums, would also be subject to higher affordable housing requirements. Those developers would be required to set aside 15% of their units as below market rate, up from 10%. That requirement now matches affordable housing rules for rental housing.

The higher affordable housing standards were just one of several updates endorsed by the City Council. Council members also backed plans to expand the timeframe that projects are required to maintain below-market housing. From now on, Mountain View should seek to have subsidized housing remain locked at a lower price in perpetuity. In the past, the city has typically required a 55-year commitment.

The City Council will consider approving a final version of the new below-market-rate guidelines at its June 18 meeting.

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Comments

14 people like this
Posted by Croc Dundee
a resident of another community
on May 24, 2019 at 4:06 pm

This will help the lucky few that get to the head of the line but not make any substantive dent in the stated problem. It is just virtue signalling. It is easy for the city council, as it offloads the costs to landowners and developers.


Like this comment
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 25, 2019 at 11:04 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

The City may have a serious problem with this approach.

Given the new state laws regarding no net loss and affordability inclusion.

The affordability standards are not set my the City but under state laws they are defined by laws like the Workforce Housing Opportunity law.

These laws define what proportion and what EARNINGS standards are allowed for inclusionary housing.

For example:

30% are to be affordable to those earning up to 120% Area Median Income NOT 150%

15% are to be affordable to 80% of Area Median Income.

and 5% are to be affordable to those earning 50% Area Median Income.

If the City doesn't act on this standard there are many bills on the way to further remove city authority

“9. AB 2162 (CHIU AND DALY) – SUPPORTIVE HOUSING USE "BY RIGHT" REQUIRES SUPPORTIVE HOUSING TO BE CONSIDERED A USE "BY RIGHT" IN ZONES WHERE MULTIFAMILY AND MIXED USES ARE PERMITTED, INCLUDING NONRESIDENTIAL ZONES PERMITTING MULTIFAMILY USES, IF THE PROPOSED HOUSING DEVELOPMENT MEETS SPECIFIED CRITERIA. SUPPORTIVE HOUSING IS HOUSING LINKED TO AN ONSITE OR OFFSITE SERVICE THAT ASSISTS THE RESIDENT IN RETAINING THE HOUSING, IMPROVING HIS OR HER HEALTH STATUS AND ABILITY TO LIVE AND WORK IN THE COMMUNITY. QUALIFYING CRITERIA RELATES TO AFFORDABILITY, LONG-TERM DEED RESTRICTIONS, NONRESIDENTIAL FLOOR USE PROVIDING SUPPORTIVE SERVICES AND OTHER DESIGN REQUIREMENTS. THE LAW REQUIRES A LOCAL GOVERNMENT TO APPROVE, WITHIN SPECIFIED PERIODS, SUPPORTIVE HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS THAT COMPLY WITH THESE REQUIREMENTS. THE LAW PROHIBITS THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT FROM IMPOSING ANY MINIMUM PARKING REQUIREMENT FOR UNITS OCCUPIED BY SUPPORTIVE HOUSING RESIDENTS IF THE DEVELOPMENT IS LOCATED WITHIN A HALF-MILE OF A PUBLIC TRANSIT STOP.”

Notice half mile from public transit STOP, so all VTA bus stops count
“10. AB 829 (CHIU) – PROHIBITIONS ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR STATE FUNDING ASSISTANCE PROHIBITS LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FROM REQUIRING A DEVELOPER OF OBTAIN A LETTER OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT OR SIMILAR DOCUMENT PRIOR TO APPLYING FOR STATE ASSISTANCE FOR A HOUSING DEVELOPMENT. THE LAW DEFINES STATE ASSISTANCE AS ANY STATE FUNDS, A STATE TAX CREDIT OR A FEDERAL TAX CREDIT ADMINISTERED BY THE STATE. THE LEGISLATIVE ANALYSIS FOR THE BILL EXPLAINED THAT IN AT LEAST ONE CASE IN THE STATE, CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS HAVE DELAYED PROJECTS FOR SUPPORTIVE HOUSING REQUIRING FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE BY CONDITIONING A PROJECT TO RECEIVE OFFICIAL SIGN-OFF FROM THE LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIAL IN ORDER TO RECEIVE FUNDING. THIS LAW ENDS THAT PRACTICE FOR ALL JURISDICTIONS.”

Thus any “public” funds used will require compliance with this law. But what projects are ever built without such funding?

Planning, RHNA and Fair Housing Goals

“11/12. SB 828 (WIENER) AND AB 1771 (BLOOM) - RHNA PROCESS AMENDMENTS MAKE A NUMBER OF CHANGES TO THE REGIONAL HOUSING NEEDS ASSESSMENT (RHNA) PROCESS TO USE MORE DATA TO MORE ACCURATELY AND FAIRLY REFLECT JOB GROWTH AND HOUSING NEEDS, WITH AN EMPHASIS ON FAIR HOUSING GOALS. RHNA IS THE PROCESS TO IDENTIFY THE TOTAL NUMBER OF HOUSING UNITS AND INCOME LEVELS THAT EACH JURISDICTION MUST ACCOMMODATE IN ITS HOUSING ELEMENT. THE RHNA PROCESS HAS BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT RECENTLY DUE TO CLAIMS THAT SOME CITIES HAVE ARTIFICIALLY LOW RHNA TARGETS DUE TO A POLITICALLY DRIVEN PROCESS. NEW AMENDMENTS REVISE THE DATA THAT THE COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS (THE ENTITIES THAT DETERMINE RHNA TARGETS) MUST PROVIDE TO HCD AS PART OF THE RHNA PROCESS. THAT DATA MUST NOW INCLUDE NEW INFORMATION REGARDING OVERCROWDING RATES, VACANCY RATES AND COST-BURDENED HOUSING (AMONG OTHER NEW DATA POINTS). THIS LAW ADDS MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR PUBLIC COMMENT AND HCD ADJUSTMENTS TO THE COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS' METHODOLOGY FOR SELECTING RHNA TARGETS, AS WELL AN ABILITY FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO APPEAL RHNA TARGETS. ADDITIONALLY, THE LAW PROHIBITS A COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS FROM USING PRIOR UNDERPRODUCTION OF HOUSING, OR STABLE POPULATION NUMBERS, AS JUSTIFICATION FOR A DETERMINATION OR REDUCTION IN A LOCAL GOVERNMENT'S SHARE OF THE RHNA.”

This is the action being done in Mountain View and everyone knows it.

“13. AB 686 (ASSEMBLY MEMBER MIGUEL SANTIAGO) – AFFIRMATIVELY FURTHER FAIR HOUSING REQUIRES A PUBLIC AGENCY TO ADMINISTER ITS PROGRAMS AND ACTIVITIES RELATING TO HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN A MANNER TO AFFIRMATIVELY FURTHER FAIR HOUSING AND NOT TAKE ANY ACTION THAT IS INCONSISTENT WITH THIS OBLIGATION. "AFFIRMATIVELY FURTHERING FAIR HOUSING" MEANS, AMONG OTHER THINGS, "TAKING MEANINGFUL ACTIONS ... THAT OVERCOME PATTERNS OF SEGREGATION AND FOSTER INCLUSIVE COMMUNITIES" AND "ADDRESS SIGNIFICANT DISPARITIES IN HOUSING NEEDS AND IN ACCESS TO OPPORTUNITY." ADDITIONALLY, AN ASSESSMENT OF FAIR HOUSING PRACTICES MUST NOW BE INCLUDED IN UPCOMING HOUSING ELEMENTS.”

The City’s plan is in opposition of this possible law. The City can choose to do it voluntarily, of have the state force them to change this behavior

“15. AB 1919 (ASSEMBLY MEMBER JIM WOOD) – ANTI-"PRICE GOUGING" DURING EMERGENCIES RECOGNIZES THAT UNDER CURRENT PROHIBITIONS AGAINST "PRICE GOUGING," LANDLORDS CANNOT RAISE RENTS BY MORE THAN 10 PERCENT WITHIN 30 DAYS OF A DECLARED DISASTER, BUT THE PROHIBITION DOES NOT APPLY TO RENTAL PROPERTIES THAT WERE NOT ON THE MARKET AT THE TIME OF THE EMERGENCY. IN RESPONSE TO CONCERNS ABOUT INCREASED RENTS IN THE NORTH BAY REGION IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE OCTOBER 2017 WILDFIRES, THIS NEW LAW EXPANDS THE EXISTING CRIME OF PRICE GOUGING TO INCLUDE NEW RENTALS THAT WERE NOT ON THE MARKET AT THE TIME OF THE EMERGENCY WITHIN THE TYPES OF GOODS AND SERVICES THAT ARE PRICE-CONTROLLED IN THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH OF AN EMERGENCY. THE LAW ALSO MAKES OTHER RELATED REFORMS TO LIMIT RENT INCREASES AND EVICTIONS FOLLOWING AN EMERGENCY.

And there are more to come.


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