City requests extension to apply for affordable housing bond proceeds

City leaders will ask the Alameda County Board of Supervisors for a one-year extension, until December 2023, to submit an application for a $2.2 million share of the county’s 2016 affordable housing bond proceeds.

A key reason the Piedmont City Council on Oct. 18 voted 4-0* to send a letter to Supervisor Keith Carson asking for the extension is to help allow the city to “pivot” in its affordable-housing strategy from focusing on “accessory dwelling units,” small residences that accompany a main housing unit, to more thoroughly exploring possibilities to build affordable multifamily housing.

An expanded timeline, Councilmember Conna McCarthy said, would “give us room to breathe” in its efforts to change the focus of its main affordable housing push, and allow for more public discussion of the issue. 

The change in strategy, and the request for deadline extension, had been recommended by the Piedmont Planning Commission, its members having concluded the city needs extra time to plan for building apartments rather than lean on ADU projects to accommodate significant potential population growth called for in regional planning forecasts.

Piedmont is well underway with preparations for the sixth Regional Housing Needs Allocation cycle, which covers 2023 through 2031. It calls for the city to prepare to accommodate 587 new residences during that time period to add to the region’s housing stock. That’s almost 10 times the number the city was mandated to prepare for in the fifth RHNA cycle, from 2015 through 2022.

Given Piedmont’s small inventory of land on which to build multifamily housing, the city in 2019 pursued a loan program to encourage the building of ADUs, sometimes called “in-law units” or “granny units,” to help meet future housing demand. But later public conversations with both individuals and community groups from Piedmont questioned whether the ADU program would best further the city’s affordable housing cause.

And on Oct. 18, representatives of local groups reiterated their feeling that multifamily affordable rental housing would better enable Piedmont to be home to more families in various economic groups. They urged the council to make the pivot from planning for ADUs to planning for more mutifamily housing. 

Deborah Leland of Piedmont said she felt the ADU loan program wasn’t a “good fit” for the city, and that the A-1 money would be better used to support affordable rental housing.

Claire Parisa of Piedmont, as associate director of California Housing Partnership, told the council she believes affordable rental housing will give the city more wherewithal to achieve greater racial equity, an effort strongly supported by the City Council.

Where to build affordable multifamily housing?

Council members and city staff said that extra year to submit an application for A-1 bond funds will be needed, in part to evaluate possible places for multifamily housing. That will not be an easy task in Piedmont, a largely built-out city with few available large parcels. Kevin Jackson, Piedmont’s director of planning and building, said the city will need more time not only to find potential sites but to find developers who may be interested in building affordable housing.

Jackson said that while county approval of extending the deadline isn’t a certainty, officials he had spoken with indicated the chances the city’s request would be approved are good.

In November 2016, 73 percent of Alameda County voters approved Measure A-1, which called for issuing $580 million in property tax bonds to fund affordable local housing.

Mayor Teddy Gray King called the city’s move to develop more affordable housing a “cornerstone” of what she wants to accomplish while on the City Council, and along with the other three council members supported the affordable housing pivot and request for an extended A-1 fund application deadline. 

Irene Cheng of the Piedmont Racial Equity Campaign, who voiced her support Monday night for a change in the city’s housing focus, also talked about an upcoming affordable housing workshop over Zoom on Tuesday, Nov. 9. For more information on that, go to

*Councilmember Tim Rood was absent from Monday’s meeting.

Contact Sam Richards at

2 thoughts on “City requests extension to apply for affordable housing bond proceeds

  1. The vulnerability of using an ADU program to meet affordable housing requirements is its lack of enforceability. Who is to (1) identify a person qualified for affordable housing and (2) require and ensure that a property owner rents and continues to rent an ADU to a person who is so qualified?

  2. Is Council really “pivoting” or just adding on to the city’s quest for affordable housing programs? Staff and the planning commission clearly support policies for affordable ADU development and the draft housing element proposes substantial decrement to neighbor privacy and Piedmont’s design standards to accommodate their development. So there’s no real change in direction here, just an extension request.

    Does staff really need a year to investigate sites for affordable housing? A-1 funds must be used for projects built on public lands and in Piedmont that means conversion of recreational or open space to multi family use. That really leaves Blair Park as the only available site. Perhaps EBMUD or the Corp Yard can be considered.

    Speaking of extensions, couldn’t the city ask for one for its Housing Element? The passage of SB9 is a game changer for the development of new housing in Piedmont, possibly even affordable housing. Why rush to complete the Housing Element without consideration of the impact of this new law? Every Bay Area city is confronting this – had anyone in City Hall talked with RHNA?

    More affordable rentals will help Piedmont achieve greater racial equity which is why a guiding principle of “Piedmont is Home” is that affordable housing be distributed throughout the community. Programs that facilitate development of affordable ADUs and SB9 are needed to make that distribution happen.

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