Friday, November 25, 2022
Saturday, November 12, 2022
Friday, November 4, 2022
Thursday, November 3, 2022
If you are a California affordable housing developer, this article is for you. It is intended as a quick reference guide for understanding the so-called “super density bonus.” Part I below describes the four general components of a density bonus in California under Government Code Section 65915. Part II describes the criteria for a “super density bonus.” Part III describes two scenarios for applying the “super density bonus.”
Part I: Density Bonuses Generally
Certain housing development projects qualify for density bonuses under Government Code Section 65915. Typical ways to qualify for a density bonus include providing at least 10% of base units in a housing development project for low- or moderate-income households or at least 5% of base units for very low-income households. If a project qualifies as a density bonus project, then the applicant can request four different categories of benefits for the project. These include the following:
Increase in Density: The project qualifies for an increase in density over the otherwise maximum allowable density pursuant to the general plan and zoning. Importantly, an applicant is not required to take advantage of an increase in density to qualify for the other benefits of a density bonus. In this regard, the term “density bonus” is arguably a misnomer. Note also that for purposes of a density bonus, numbers are always rounded up. Thus, if the maximum allowable density with a density bonus is 10.01 units, then the applicant is entitled to construct 11 units.
Concessions: The project qualifies for one or more concessions. The number of concessions varies depending upon the level of affordability proposed and the basis upon which the density bonus is requested. A concession is an exception from an otherwise applicable development standard. A concession is supposed to result in a cost savings for affordable housing, and the local agency can deny a concession if it finds that a requested concession will not result in a cost savings for affordable housing. The agency has the burden to prove the absence of cost savings, but the applicant can be required by the local agency to submit “reasonable documentation” demonstrating such a savings.
Waivers: Density bonus projects are entitled to unlimited waivers. A waiver is an exception from an otherwise applicable development standard. A waiver should be granted if the design standard from which an exception is sought would physically preclude a project that an applicant is otherwise entitled to construct at the allowed density and with any concessions granted.
Parking Reductions: Government Code Section 65915(p) establishes certain maximum parking ratios for density bonus projects. A project that meets the applicable ratio under subdivision (p) may take advantage of the ratio without using a concession or waiver. If a project requires a further reduction in parking standards from what the local agency otherwise requires, then that further reduction must be sought as a concession or waiver.
Part II: “Super Density Bonus” Projects
A special set of rules applies to certain housing development projects. To qualify, all the units in the project must be affordable, excluding managers’ units. A maximum of 20% of the units in the development may be for moderate-income households, and the remaining units must be for lower income households. Note that normally for density bonus projects, HCD rents are used to calculate affordable rents. However, for “super density bonus” projects, TCAC rents may be used for up to 80% of units. A “super density” bonus project qualifies for the following benefits:
Increase in Density: The project qualifies for an 80% density bonus. This is calculated based only upon the lower income units in the project. Moderate income units and managers’ units are excluded from the calculation. However, if the project is within one-half mile of a major transit stop, then no maximum density applies. Major transit stops include, for example, ferry terminals, train stations, and light rail stops. A bus stop served by two or more bus lines with 15 minute headways during peak commute hours also qualifies as a major transit stop. Distance from a major transit stop is measured from nearest property line to nearest property line.
Concessions: The project qualifies for up to four concessions, which is the maximum available for any type of density bonus project.
Waivers: Projects not located within one-half mile of a major transit stop may claim unlimited waivers. Waivers are discretionary for projects located within one-half mile of a major transit stop, but in lieu of waivers, such a project is entitled to an automatic height increase of 33 feet or three stories.
Parking Reductions: Parking reductions under Government Code Section 65915(p) apply. Importantly, subdivision (p) includes a special parking ratio intended for certain “super density bonus” projects. Specifically, a rental project within one-half mile of a major transit stop is not required to provide any parking if all the units in the project, exclusive of managers’ units, are for lower income households. Note that subdivision (p) includes several other special parking ratios that apply to certain types of projects and that may also overlap with the “super density bonus” classification.
Part III: Scenarios
Let’s look at how the “super density bonus” might work in practice. Consider the following two hypothetical projects:
Project #1: The project is located on a site where the maximum allowable density is 50 dwelling units per acre. The project site is 1.5 acres in size. The developer plans to offer two and three bedroom units only. Exclusive of a manager’s unit, 100% of the units will be for lower income households. The project site is not located within one-half mile of a major transit stop. Assume that no special parking ratio applies under Government Code Section 65915(p).
The site supports a maximum density of 75 units. Assuming one manager’s unit, 74 of these base units will be for lower income households. Applying an 80% density bonus and rounding up as required, the project would be entitled to 60 density bonus units, or 135 units in total.
74 x 0.8 = 59.2 ~ 60 density bonus units
75 base units + 60 density bonus units = 135 units
The project would also qualify for up to four concessions, unlimited waivers, and a parking ratio of not more than 1.5 parking spaces per unit.
Project #2: Same project, but now assume the project is located within one-half mile of a major transit stop. Now the project qualifies for unlimited density and up to four concessions. The project is entitled to a height increase of up to 33 feet or three stories, but any additional waivers would be discretionary with the local agency. No parking would be required for the project.
Thursday, October 13, 2022
Thursday, October 6, 2022
Saturday, September 24, 2022
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Tuesday, August 23, 2022
Sunday, August 7, 2022
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Thursday, June 16, 2022
Hansell, repeatedly smearing me at a public meeting while claiming himself a victim:
Wednesday, June 8, 2022
Friday, May 27, 2022
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Monday, May 16, 2022
|Photo of BLM protest May 2020. The chalk reads, "No lives matter till Black Lives Matter." Seen in the photo is Bruce Anderson, former Marinwood CSD Director and moderator for Lucas Valley/Marinwood NextDoor. Photo courtesy MarinIJ.com|
I was cancelled from Lucas Valley/Marinwood NextDoor today for the following post:
I disagree that there is a lot of overt racism in our community. I feel the racism exists in cultural insensitivity and laws meant to favor some over others. It is important to identify and discuss it as a community. So many have a good heart in this community and want fairness for all people. Let's make positive change.
The original post was about the policy to ban renting Marinwood Community Center community rooms to "outsiders" after several board members complained about "loud Mexican Music" and public safety incidents. Most of our rentals were to the Latino community for birthdays, weddings and quinceaneras. Similar celebrations like the "Art and Wine Festival" were left untouched. This is clearly a racist policy since it affects only one community. Many agree. Some people want to turn their back on institutional racism and censor those who dare speak about it.
write firstname.lastname@example.org to reinstate fair and respectful discussions WITHOUT CENSORSHIP.
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
Saturday, April 16, 2022
Marinwood Park should improve facilities accessible for everyone. They have refused to improve the
accessibility at the Western Quietwood Path entrance despite a generous donation that would pay for the entire improvement.
We should be improving our parks, not destroying them.
Friday, April 15, 2022
Thursday, April 14, 2022
Save Marinwood Park's most lovely picnic area from destruction.
Tonight while I was walking my dogs I notice that crews are in the process of removing grills and picnic tables from Fireman's Picnic Area WITHOUT PUBLIC APPROVAL.
It is quite a shame. As many local residents know, this group picnic area is one of the most lovely spots in the North Bay. It is under a tall canopy of trees that keeps it pleasant year round. Miller Creek cools the air and many birds sing in the trees. It is the perfect place for an informal gathering or just to sit and enjoy nature.
Over the years, maintenance has been neglected and one grill had completely rusted through. Instead of maintaining and replacing the grills, the CSD has decided to decommission the area. They claim they need no input from the public. Neighbors disagree.
For years, hundreds of residents have used this areas for birthdays, block parties, weddings, and memorials. It is a cheerful place.
I ask you to be a Friend of Marinwood Park and save this lovely area from destruction. I ask you to write an email right now to tell them stop the removals.
email@example.com General Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org Rec and Parks Manager
and email@example.com (Friends of Marinwood/Lucas Valley)
A petition to save the Fireman's picnic area will be coming shortly. For now, please send your email to let the Marinwood CSD that you care about our park and our community quality of life.
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
Tuesday, April 5, 2022
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Friday, March 18, 2022
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
opinion/openforum/article/No- mountain-lions-won-t-drop- dead-if-16984604.php
No, mountain lions won’t drop dead if California builds duplexes. But some towns are in their habitat
Nancy Reyering March 8, 2022
Woodside was ridiculed after claiming itself a mountain lion habitat in seeming attempt to avoid a state housing law. Brontë Wittpenn/The Chronicle
The Bay Area town of Woodside recently found itself in the international spotlight, and not in a good way. Officials in the town of 5,000 in the heavily forested foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains wanted to pause housing applications under SB9, a law meant to encourage construction, because they believed Woodside is habitat for mountain lions and wanted to await a determination from the state on whether the species would be protected.
The issue raised a question that has garnered widespread mockery: To what extent should developed areas with single-family homes be considered habitat for mountain lions?
California Attorney General Rob Bonta gave his unequivocal answer in a statement he issued last month chastising Woodside officials. “Habitat is land that has the capacity to support a specific species, including providing food and shelter,” he said. “Land that is already developed — with, for example, a single-family home — is not, by definition, habitat.”
Bonta’s tone was undoubtedly meant to send a message to all California communities who have been reluctant to get on board with the state’s new housing laws. But his rationale in rebuffing Woodside’s claim is incorrect.
Bottom line: Building a house — or a duplex — on a plot of land does not eliminate the ability of that land to support wildlife and native plants.
For those who have never been, Woodside isn’t the lawn-filled suburban enclave you might have guessed from its recent media depiction. The town is adjacent to large, natural open spaces, part of what’s called the wildland-urban interface — that is, a place where people and wildlife share space and resources. In these areas, homes are intermingled with redwood forest and coast live-oak woodland, accessed via narrow, winding mountain roads. Deer are much more common than transit stops (the only bus that serves Woodside only runs on Saturdays). And not coincidentally, these heavily wooded hillsides with their challenging terrain are also wildfire hazard zones.
Whatever you may think of state housing policies, one thing is true: Woodside is indeed mountain lion habitat, and treating that habitat responsibly is critical to the survival of this species.
Mountain lions, also knowns as cougars, once freely roamed the hills, forests and grasslands of the Bay Area. Their habitat has been severely degraded by development. But these big cats still live here. There are only around 2,000 to 3,000 cougars left in California. They are currently a “candidate species” under the California Endangered Species Act, giving them the same protection as threatened and endangered species. Mountain lions are at the top of the food chain. A robust cougar population keeps the whole ecosystem in balance.
That ecosystem includes many California neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the controversy in California over housing density has raised the political stakes to the extent that it has generated gravely misinformed public statements about wildlife habitat. The assumption that anything short of a state or national park isn’t habitat and has no conservation value is inaccurate and damaging to efforts aimed at preserving biodiversity.
Indeed, the Bay Area is a biodiversity hotspot equal to Madagascar, and towns in the foothills to the west of Interstate 280 contain much of that biodiversity. These areas are threatened by human development; they make up just 2.5 percent of the planet’s surface but represent an outsize opportunity to protect a large variety of species. This demands land use planning with extra care.
Woodside inarguably has areas of mountain lion habitat. We therefore have a particular obligation to take account of the habits and needs of cougars when building here. Most importantly, we should prioritize protecting key wildlife corridors when planning for development. Our plans should account for the needs of wildlife, especially large mammals, that require room to roam, feed and breed.
This issue is not unique to the Peninsula. Ventura County just passed ordinances requiring environmental review for projects that may hinder wildlife connectivity. Wildlife crossings being built across Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains and across Highway 101 northwest of Los Angeles show efforts to connect wildlife habitat are necessary and possible. Both wildlife crossings will save human and animal lives and increase efforts to keep species from dying out by allowing cougars and other animals to access additional habitats and populations. Recognizing the ecological crisis caused by divided habitats across the U.S., Congress recently allocated $350 million to support these types of crossings.
In other words, “habitat” is not something only found in remote wilderness areas.
Even as we must plan for adequate affordable housing for all Californians, we must also protect sufficient habitat for our state’s wild animals and plants to survive, particularly in the wildland-urban interface.
No, that doesn’t mean mountain lions will drop dead if we build duplexes. But it does mean housing goals can and should exist alongside our obligation to preserve our environment, keep people safe in an era of increasing wildfires and create housing policies that recognize the importance of wildlife in our extraordinary state.
As our planet faces an existential biodiversity crisis, let’s remember that mountain lions deserve a place to live, too.
Nancy Reyering is a 35-year resident of Woodside and is president of the San Mateo County Harbor District.
EDITORS NOTE: Lucas Valley is also home to mountain lions. They have been spotted in Marinwood Park on rare occasions. They are extremely shy and seldom seen. Most often the bobcat is seen in our neighborhoods. Many people mistake them for mountain lions which are much bigger.
Friday, March 4, 2022
Thursday, March 3, 2022
Monday, February 28, 2022
Dear Marin County Supervisors and Community Planning Staff:
Public comments on the 2023-2031 Marin County Housing Element DRAFT Candidate Housing Sites are due TODAY
Public comments on the 2023-2031 Marin County Housing Element DRAFT Candidate Housing Sites are due on February 28th! Marin County Board of Supervisors & Planning Commission will discuss the proposed sites at a joint session on March 1st at 5 PM!
County Staff is asking the Supervisors & Planning Commissioners to do the following at the March 1st joint meeting
SUBJECT: Marin County Housing Element Update
RECOMMENDATION to Supervisors & Commissioners:
1. Receive report on community outreach and feedback received related to candidate housing sites and site scenarios.
2. Review and provide feedback on staff recommendation for candidate housing sites and alternative scenarios that address the State-mandated Regional Housing Need Allocation for housing production for the 2022- 2030 planning period.
Future Housing Sites on Agenda for March 1
County prepares to update long-term plans to meet needs and state mandates
San Rafael, CA – A master list of all potential locations in unincorporated Marin County that are under consideration as future housing sites will be the subject of online-only meetings on Marin 1 and March 15.
The Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission, which are co-hosting the meetings, will then select sites to be evaluated in an upcoming Housing Element environmental review. During the March meetings, members of the two governing bodies could direct County staff to narrow down the list by eliminating some eligible locations.
The March 1 joint session of the Board and Planning Commission will be held as a 5 p.m. videoconference only because of the topic’s high interest in unincorporated neighborhoods and the need to prevent large crowds from congregating due to COVID-19. The Civic Center’s Board chamber will be closed.
That session will be a follow-up to December 7 and February 1 joint meetings between the two bodies at which staff from the Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA) presented details about the Housing and Safety Elements, which are required plans to accommodate future housing needs and address climate change. Staff has been hosting community meetings throughout the unincorporated county to share information on candidate sites and gather feedback, which will be shared with the Board and Planning Commission.
“Residents in the local workforce struggle to find suitable affordable housing close to their Marin jobs, which leads to longer commutes, negatively affects the environment, and erodes quality of life,” said CDA Deputy Director Leelee Thomas. “We see this as a chance to make marked progress with racial and social equity. At this stage, we are asking our residents to participate in this process and help us identify places where we can add housing within our communities.”
The County has been directed to plan for at least 3,569 new housing units in unincorporated areas during the eight-year cycle that begins in 2023. Those must be distributed among all income categories, from extremely low to above moderate. Parcels have been identified as potential housing sites in all areas of the unincorporated county. Land owned by schools, houses of worship, businesses, nonprofits, private owners and the county government is all open for consideration. While housing is allowed in almost all local zoning districts, including commercial, the update to the Housing Element will increase the maximum number of homes allowed in some areas.
The consequences of noncompliance with housing requirements could be stiff. If a jurisdiction does not meet its housing goals, it becomes ineligible for state funding to serve local transportation needs and may be subject to statewide streamlining rules, which allow for housing development with limited public review process. California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has a new division that is designed to enforce accountability with plans to meet housing needs.
“It behooves us to listen, collaborate, and come with our own locally designed plan rather than risking state reprimand and losing local control on decisions,” Thomas said.
The Housing Element, along with the accompanying Safety Element, needs to be completed by the end of 2022 so it can be submitted to the State of California for approval. This winter, CDA staff is engaging in community discussions, speaking at local homeowners association meetings and design review boards. Three online tools are being used to encourage residents to provide feedback on where housing could be located.
“Our outreach has received positive feedback, and several thousand people have visited the Balancing Act website,” said CDA Senior Planner Jillian Nameth Zeiger. “The meetings with design review boards and other community organizations have allowed us to describe the process, answer questions, and gather a lot of public comment that will be reported back to the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission. We have more sites on the candidate list than we need for the plan, so we are looking to the public for guidance on where they think we should be planning for more housing. Balancing Act, public comment at meetings, phone calls, and emails are great ways to get involved.”
For disability accommodations, please phone (415) 473-6358 (voice), CA Relay 711, or e-mail the Community Development staff at least five business days in advance of the event. The County will do its best to fulfill requests received with less than five business days’ notice. Copies of documents are available in alternative formats, upon request.
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