Full articles linked to in VOTER or e-blast
From December 2020 VOTER
Climate change is an issue for emphasis for the League of Women Voters on the local, state, and national levels. LWV Bay Area recently held a Community Dialogue on Regional Decisions (check out their video and presentation slides) which highlighted the intersection among climate change, housing, transportation, and equity needs in the Bay Area, and how cities must plan for these needs. The video also shows how you can participate in this issue at a national, state, or local level in League advocacy. Speakers covered the following points.
State law requires cities to plan to meet the housing needs of people of all income levels. The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) forecasts over 30 years the total number of housing units across income groups from which cities and counties receive a Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). Cities are required to adopt a housing element in their general plan which shows where their share of regional housing could be built.
What’s new is that transportation and housing strategies for the nine Bay Area counties and 101 cities are being planned together, with affordable housing located near regional transit hubs. Housing allocations to cities and counties under SB 858 must factor in the impact of climate change, with the goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to 20% below 1980 emissions, and put new housing where the jobs are located, with the goal of increasing the opportunity for low-income households to live in high opportunity areas (affirmatively furthering fair housing). High-opportunity areas and proximity to jobs by transit or auto will be the two primary factors that determine how much housing, by income-level, will be allocated to a city. Other factors include the extent of overcrowding; rebalancing income distribution by the household; protecting environmental resources; and increasing the supply and mix of housing types, tenure, and affordability.
State law recognizes that meeting the challenge of climate change requires factoring in social equity, economic growth, housing, and transportation needs.
Palo Alto, a high-opportunity, job-rich area with high-income households, can expect to receive an allocation of regional housing needs that exceeds its percentage of projected job growth.
Under state law, each city will need to adopt a new housing element by 2023 which identifies specific parcels that can feasibly accommodate new housing of all income levels to meet that city's RHNA allocations. “Feasible” means that a developer could find an economic advantage to build on the parcel. In many cases, this will require rezoning or an increase in height and density. If a city does not adjust its zoning to make such development feasible, the state has the ability under SB 35 to take away local control and grant the developer the right to streamlined approval of certain projects. (CA Senate Bill 35)
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