Planning Commission releases statement regarding use of county funds for affordable housing

From the City of Piedmont on September 14:

On September 13, 2021, the Planning Commission recommended that the City Council direct staff to continue developing an affordable housing programs using Piedmont’s share of Alameda County Measure A-1 funding. The Commission supported the three-step approach for the funds recommended by the Planning Commission’s Ad-Hoc Subcommittee on Measure A-1. The Commission recommended the City Council explore ways to: 1) Establish a Piedmont Affordable Housing Fund; 2) Launch a low-interest loan program for affordable housing, such as
scattered site single-family homes, ADUs and JADUs, conversion of commercial land, small houses, and shared housing; and 3) Preserve $2.2 million in funding in the form of a low-interest loan for the development of an affordable housing development of up to 40 housing units on ½ to 1 acre of land in Piedmont.

The reason behind the Commission’s recommendation of a sequential use of the Measure A-1 funds, first for the low-interest loan program that then transitions for use towards a traditional multifamily development as the loans are repaid, is that the County’s timeline does not allow for the time necessary to successfully identify and analyze a site for a multifamily project and carryout robust community engagement for the General Plan amendments and zoning ordinance revisions that would be necessary to attract a developer.

Planning Commission Chair Rani Batra stated, “(Our community) needs time to understand and explore what this means… Development is more successful with community support behind it.” Commissioner Tom Ramsey stated, “All of us support a traditional affordable housing development… Where we have discussion is how we get there.”

In making its recommendation, the Planning Commission determined that the development of a multifamily affordable housing project on City-owned land would have a greater chance of attracting a developer and gaining entitlement once the City had completed its update to the Housing Element, the related zoning code revisions and environmental review. That process is not expected to be completed within the constraints of the County’s timeline for receipt of Measure A-1 funds. The City Council’s receipt of the recommendation for the approach for the
use of the funds has not been scheduled but is expected to occur in October or November.

During the meeting, the Planning Commission heard comments from eleven community members. Many urged the Commission to recommend that the City Council approve the 2023- 2031 Housing Element update and associated changes by November 2022 so that the Measure A1 funding could be used towards the development of affordable housing in Piedmont within the faster timeline requirements set forth by Alameda County.

In 2016, Alameda County residents voted to adopt Measure A-1, a $580 million property tax revenue bond for affordable housing. The City of Piedmont is allocated $2.2 million in Measure 2 A-1 funding in the form of a low-interest (3%) loan program administered by the Alameda County Department of Housing and Community Development (County HCD). Piedmont’s Measure A-1 allocation must be used for the development of affordable rental housing or site acquisition.

State requirements have challenged City officials to find sites and policies to promote the construction of 587 new houses and apartments by 2031. Earlier this year the City Council engaged the services of Lisa Wise Consulting to assist the City in preparing a Housing Element update that facilitates the production of this allocation of housing units, and the services of Rincon Consulting to perform the related environmental review required by the California
Environmental Quality Act.

At 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 29, the Piedmont Planning Commission and Housing Advisory Committee will hold a joint study session about the basic requirements for Housing Element updates in California. For more information and project updates, please visit the City of Piedmont’s web site at

4 thoughts on “Planning Commission releases statement regarding use of county funds for affordable housing

  1. With the passage and eminent signing of SB9 “The California Home Act” the City has a well-defined path to satisfy RHNA requirements. Allow and encourage affordable smaller homes with ADUs and JADUs by reducing the minimum Zone A lot size from 8,000 sf down to 6,000 or 5,000 sf. As about 45% of existing homes are on lots smaller than 6,000 sf, a minimum lot size at 6,000 sf is consistent with Piedmont’s current housing stock.

    • The passage of SB9 will certainly help in meeting the RHNA goals. However, the RHNA goals require not only 587 total new housing units but that 252 of those be affordable to low and very low income households. The City cannot meet those goals without building deed restricted affordable housing. The A1 funds are a critical component of being able to do that, with the $2.2 million low interest 55 year deferred payment loan being the catalyst for leveraging state and federal funding. It is an opportunity we can ill afford to let pass by.

      • Agreed, Alice. I think the passage of SB9 is symbolically important (as an end to single family zoning and an opening to more density). And I would love to see more small homes, duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes in Piedmont. However, it’s important to be realistic about the possibilities for getting much deeply affordable housing out of duplexes in a city like Piedmont through a loan program. The Terner Center’s study on SB9 found that the bill would enable new development on only 5.4% of single family parcels in the state. And SB9 places significant constraints on the lot splits and duplexes that can be created, including restrictions in high-fire areas, that new lots must be at least 40% of the original lot, and owner occupancy restrictions. Not to mention that only a small minority of property owners will be interested in this kind of project. All of these factors will likely limit the bill’s impact in Piedmont. Furthermore, the finances of creating a duplex or a lot split in Piedmont, with its very high land values and the rising cost of construction, make it virtually impossible to create low-income-restricted housing without major subsidies. I’m hopeful SB9 might yield some new market-rate duplexes or small homes affordable to above-moderate-income households, but it’s not a silver bullet for affordable housing creation. We need to take an “all of the above” approach that includes affordable multifamily housing.

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