, 14 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Thread on local control and housing: In the past week, a number of major housing bills stalled in the state legislature, and closer to home, the 2019 Homeless count showed a spike of 31% in homelessness in Santa Clara County. kqed.org/news/11748088/…
Much of the opposition to these bills is based upon the theory that “local control” of zoning is a better tool to solve the housing crisis. California has a housing shortage of 3.5 million homes and counting.
Last night, the Palo Alto City Council considered (for the second time) a pre-screening application for a 64 unit housing project along San Antonio Road, including 10 dedicated below market units.
The applicant proposed applying the city’s Housing Incentive Program (HIP) which allows for greater residential density, no unit limits, and allowing rooftop gardens to count as open space. paloaltoonline.com/news/2019/05/2…
The HIP is a program I helped create with @cityofpaloalto staff - it went through 7 hearings at the planning commission, 3 at the city council, and numerous community meetings.
A slim majority of council passed the HIP, and major items I originally proposed were gutted or watered down along the way. This is the process of local control of zoning.
So last night, after a tough week for housing, the city council could have demonstrated that we can use local control to create more housing in our city.
Instead, council members complained about the project, including: traffic, parking, unattractive design, it’s too close to light industrial uses (which are in Mountain View, btw), San Antonio isn’t the right location, it’s not 100% below-market rate...
...there are no “community benefits”, loss of retail, the project is for techies, too close to the curb, height, that the project wouldn’t make a dent in the housing situation, that it’s not family-oriented, and so on. padailypost.com/2019/05/21/hou…
I wanted to share this because I think my perspective can help shed some light on how little some cities are doing to address the housing crisis. Palo Alto has a community goal of 300 housing units per year, and halfway through the year, we’re at about 60 units.
This project would have helped. This process and project is a microcosm of what’s happening across the state.
We could have used our local control to make it happen. But comments, actions, and votes from council members have consequences, and as I’ve said repeatedly, the incentives for local officials to solve the housing crisis are fundamentally misaligned.
It took decades to get into this housing hole, and it will take many years to get out of it. The time for excuses, delay, and non-solutions is over.
When local authorities cannot, or refuse to, create the conditions for more abundant, affordable, and secure housing - that’s precisely when the state should step in and set standards. #MoreHomesThisYear
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