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    Santa Paula: First Look at Major New Planning Policy Changes

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    By Sheryl Hamlin

    On December 18, 2019, a joint study session brought together developers, planners, elected and appointed officials and housing advocates for a “housing” study session. A broad topic, “housing” touches laws, policies, market forces, social issues and economic conditions.

    Was Housing Crisis Exacerbated by Redevelopment Shutdown?

    City Manager Dan Singer opened with meeting suggesting there could be $6.5 million in in-lieu fees from East Area 1, a topic that would be revisited by staff. He noted that Santa Paula has market driven housing as well as “provider driven” housing.

    He then spoke of the “Housing Crisis” which corresponded to the shutdown of the Redevelopment Agencies (RDA). For decades, the RDAs were required to contribute 20% of their tax increment revenue to the Low and Middle Income Housing Fund (LMIHF). According to some sources, the RDA tax increment was $5 billion a year at the peak, so 20% of this would be $1 billion. Now years after the demise of the RDA, this loss equates to billions not passed on the the LMIHF. Read this article for details: How RDA Closure Affected LMIHF

    Not discussed was the 80% of the $5 billion siphoned from the local tax base by the Redevelopment Agencies, causing stress on local budgets, which was one of Governor Brown’s reasons for ending Redevelopment. In Santa Paula, the County of Ventura did not feel that Santa Paula could afford to give away one third of its tax base. Read this article: SANTA PAULA _ County Sues to Halt Redevelopment Plan – Los Angeles Times. There has never been an audit as to the benefits the city recognized from its Redevelopment Agency. The DLA (former RDA) is still collecting the tax increment and paying the bond coupons through 2025. The RDA bonds were not callable.

    Community Housing Leaders

    Director Mason introduced leaders from three major housing-oriented organizations: Ellen Brokaw (House Farmworkers), Mary Ann Krause (Housing Task Force Board) and Linda Braunschweiger (Ventura County Housing Task Force).

    Ellen Brokaw stated that she is chair of both the Santa Paula Affordable Housing Task Force and the Santa Paula House Farm Workers Committee, a focus she started in 2001 with Dora Crouch and Al Guilin. They do not build housing, she said, but try to raise awareness of needs and issues in farmworker housing. She said “We also advocate for more permissive land use regulations, zoning, fee structures, funding mechanisms etc. designed to produce more affordable housing “. Read entire statement: brokaw_statement

    Former Mayor Mary Ann Krause, who works with the Affordable Housing Task Force, a group consisting of members from House Frarm Workers, Many Mansions, Santa Clara Valley Together, Coalition of Ministries, LULAC, Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce and Latino Town Hall. They have been instrumental in crafting the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance and the In-Lieu Fee Ordinance. She noted that the State of California rejected the first Housing Element because it was not “robust enough” and did not have nough “inclusionary husing”. In 2005, the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance was produced which allowed developers to build low income units or pay an in-lieu fee. Read the statement: mary_ann_krause_statement

    Linda Braunschweiger, CEO of Housing Trust Fund Ventura County, explained the non-profit banking functions which accepts deposits and then lends the monies to qualified developers in amounts from $50,000 to $2 million. The interest and return of principal allows the fund to grow and multiply. She said the county started in 2000 realizing that there was not enough housing to attract jobs. Their focus is housing for extremely low income, farmworkers and young adults. In 2006 the voters approved Prop 1C which provides a matching grant. All ten major cities in the county are in the trust fund. Santa Paula donated $50,000 in 2013 which was leveraged into $850,000 In 2019, they approved $4.3 million in loans. Read statement here: Braunschweiger_statement.


    Director Mason introduced the providers in the audience who provide some aspect of housing.: Many Mansions, Chamber of Commerce, Santa Paula Housing Authority, People Self Help Housing, Cabrillo, Habitat for Humanity.

    Policy Objectives, Strategy and Process

    Planning Director Mitchem presented new laws, policies and ordinance at three levels: State, regional and local.

    State Level

    In 2017, Governor Brown signed a 15-bill housing package. The bills are as follows:

    * AB 72 (Santiago) Housing Element Law Enforcement
    * AB 73 (Chiu) Housing Sustainability Districts
    * AB 571 (E. Garcia) Low Income Housing Credits for Farmworkers
    * AB 678 (Bocanegra)/ SB 167 (Skinner) and AB 1515 (Daly) Housing Accountability Act
    * AB 879 (Grayson) Housing Element Annual Report and Fee Study
    * AB 1397 (Low) Housing Element Law Sites Requirements
    * AB 1505 (Bloom) Inclusionary Ordinances
    * AB 1521 (Bloom) Preservation of Existing Affordable Housing Stock
    * SB 2 (Atkins) Building Jobs and Homes Act
    * SB 3 (Beall) Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act
    * SB 35 (Wiener) Streamline Approval Process
    * SB 166 (Skinner) No-Net-Loss
    * SB 540 (Roth) Workforce Housing Opportunity Zones

    The state has produced a summary of the Housing Package: State Documentation

    Regional Level

    SB2 provides funds from a $75 fee for each real estate transaction in the state, expecting to raise $250 million annually.

    At the regional level, the Southern California Association of Governments, a JPA founded in 1965, is mandated by SB2 to provide a Regional Housing Needs Assessment Survey. (RHNA). The RHNA for Santa Paula requires 651 units over 8 years including 331 (above moderate), 120 (moderate), 98 (low Income) and 100 units (very-low Income). The challenge is finding funds, developers and land for these categories.

    Connect SoCAL

    SCAG also released “Connect SoCAL” a plan to service housing with transportation. This was not discussed at the meeting due to time constraints. View and comment on the plan here.

    Local Level

    Concomitant with the 2040 General Plan, the city’s planners have crafted two Overlay Zones: Downtown District Overlay Zone (7th to 12th, Harvard to Railroad) and Housing Opportunity Overlay Zone (East of downtown). Additionally, there is to be developed the Residential Infill Ordinance as well as new Base Zone Development Standards. Read definition of Santa Paula Overlay here: Definition

    The Downtown Overlay

    This new Overlay includes no change to the underlying zoning but adds lower parking rations, more height, and reduced setbacks. They are considering ministerial review by neighborhoods. This area also has some common property with the Historic District and the Business Improvement District. There are 15.6 acres within this new overlay that could permit housing outright.

    As for the Housing Opportunity Overlay, Director Mitchem said that the housing must be “contextually germane to existing neighborhoods” and envisions neighborhood architectural committee.

    Residential infill Ordinance

    The Residential infill Ordinance will also include a goal of neighborhood contextual projects and is based on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). They plan for 300 ADU’s in the neighborhoods to make the quota. Read the city’s ordinance here: ordinance

    The planners will be reviewing the entire municipal code for the base zone development standards. For example, there will be more use outright rather than the requirement for a Conditional Use Permit (CP), particularly for housing.
    Staff will review the current Design Review Ordinance and include expedited processing in order to meet the 561 unit goal in eight years.

    In-Lieu Fees

    Director Mason presented the topic of in-lieu fees. He said in two years only three developers for infill projects. He did not enumerate, but presumably these were Sparkuhl, Williams Homes and Grant Line. He said it is easier for developers to pay the fee rather than build low-income housing, which is a problem. The city prefers they build. He provided a chart showing $6.5 million in-lieu fees from East Area 1 between 2020 and 2026. Not said was the dependence on the economy. According to the handouts, the in-lieu fee ordinance is under revision.

    Not mentioning the previous controversy, he mentioned options for managing the in-lieu fees Read previous articles about the In-Lieu Fees and the Santa Paula Housing Authority: 2018 and 2016

    Public Meetings

    Because of the magnitude of this effort, the City has planned a series of meetings. Please read the documents and plan to attend. Read the Press Release.

    Handouts from Meeting

    Download handouts here: PC-CCWorkSession12-18-2019.PlanningPresentation

    For information on the author sherylhamlin dot com.

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    Marshall Roath
    Marshall Roath
    2 years ago

    Does the elimination of a parking requirement when changing a garage to an ADU mean the property will have no parking requirements? So the result of that poorly conceived ordnance is to create a street parking war. Where like San Francisco (the most public transportation oriented city on the west coast) drivers spend time driving around blocks looking for parking. Santa Paula has no or little public transportation and most people with jobs commute to the larger cities to the west or to parts of Lon
    s Angeles. This is a poor attempt by “social planners” to change society.

    Marshall Roath
    Marshall Roath
    2 years ago

    “Provider driven” housing. Hummm, advertising “If we build it they will come.”and the necessity for corporate growth are the major factors in mass housing.

    Fritz Kling
    Fritz Kling
    2 years ago

    The information from the City of Santa Paula discussed regarding ADUs which is a 8 page document attached to this article is incorrect beginning Jan 1 2020. It is going to need to be revised. The bottom of the document says revised in 2017. The new laws do not require parking for ADUs. In other words if you want to turn your garage into an additional dwelling unit you can and do not need. Garage, carport or place to park. There are other conditions to the new law as it’s a 25 page bill that was passed. Suggest a revision to this article in Jan of 2020.

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