The Piedmont City Council on Monday unanimously approved beginning the search for a consulting firm to help the city update its plan to accommodate hundreds of new residences in the next 10 years — part of a state plan for the Bay Area to prepare for more than 400,000 new housing units by 2031.
The city will now seek “requests for proposals” for a firm to manage the housing element update, leading community outreach and engagement (including at least 15 public meetings and other interactions), preparing an inventory of potential housing sites in Piedmont, identifying constraints on what the city can do to complete its housing update, and otherwise oversee the update effort.
Piedmont has made previous updates to its “Housing Element,” its plan for how the city would accommodate new housing as part of the ongoing Regional Housing Needs Allocation process. But this 2023-2031 update, the sixth such effort, will be a much bigger task than previous ones, as Piedmont (and other Bay Area cities) will be called upon to find much more space for new housing than ever before. In Piedmont’s case, the expected number of new houses the city will be expected to plan for is 587 (Piedmont’s 2015-2023 housing needs number, by contrast, was 60 new housing units). The expected breakdown in Piedmont is 163 very-low-income units, 94 low-income units, 92 moderate-income units and 238 above-moderate-income units.
Kevin Jackson, Piedmont’s director of planning and building, said that widened scope of work will likely require some changes in city policy and regulations, as well as to the city’s general plan, as will the public outreach campaign.
That “587” number is Piedmont’s share of an expected regional number of 441,176 housing units deemed necessary over the next 10 years both to help meet an unfulfilled ongoing need for housing, and to prepare for what is expected to be strong economic growth in the Bay Area in the near future.
By law, the RHNA Plan is required to be consistent with the goals of the more overarching Plan Bay Area 2050, as overseen by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).
Piedmont, and other Bay Area cities, must submit their updated 2023-2031 housing element plans to the state Department of Housing and Community Development by January 2023. State law allows the HCD to refer to the state Attorney General’s office jurisdictions that fail to have a “compliant” housing element by that date.
While council members and city staff acknowledge the scale of the work needed to comply with state law, the overall effort works in with the city’s oft-stated goal to make Piedmont a more diverse and inclusive place by expanding its affordable housing stock. “It’s a tremendous challenge …. and an opportunity,” City Administrator Sara Lillevand said.
Irene Cheng, with the Piedmont Racial Equity Campaign, agreed. “We think it presents a timely and exceptional opportunity to make Piedmont a more diverse place,” said Cheng, who also asked the council to approach all steps in this process with equity in mind.
While the city has just now formally initiated the search for a “prime contractor” for this sixth RHNA housing element update, other consultants have already been hired to help lay the groundwork for meeting these newest, most challenging housing mandates. Lisa Wise Consulting has been asked to identify potential sources of funding to provide incentives to build or offer “income-restricted” accessory dwelling units. That firm has also been tasked with starting a discussion about suitable sites for mixed-use and multi-family development in Piedmont through community surveys and meetings, and providing analysis and summary of the results, and with doing development economic feasibility studies for two local sites.
The city also has hired San Anselmo-based Plan to Place to provide a community engagement plan, project messaging, outreach materials, and a project specific website to be launched soon, all part of a “Piedmont is Home” branding effort.
Contact Sam Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org