City Behind on Affordable Housing Needs / Approves New General Plan Amendment Policy

On the consent calendar last Tuesday (3/15) there was an item noting how the City is doing on meeting the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) numbers. These are prepared by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and show how many new housing developments Fremont is projected to have. I had to comment on how poorly we are doing to date in meeting the affordable housing numbers. Below are the RHNA numbers, our current progress (2 years into the 8 year cycle), and the percentage we’ve completed for each group:

Very Low – 64 out of 1,714 units – 3.7 %
Low – 0 out of 926 units – 0.0 %
Moderate – 0 out of 978 units – 0.0 %
Above Moderate – 520 out of 1,837 units – 28.3 %

If it weren’t for the Laguna Commons project in Irvington, the first number would also be zero. The projects that have been approved but not yet issued building permits (i.e. Warm Springs) only continues this trend.

Also on the 3/15 agenda was a proposed policy that adds another step to the

process of applying for General Plan Amendments. Any applications involving conversion of retail/industrial parcels to residential market rate housing would be bundled together twice a year for Council to review and prioritize. Projects that are purely affordable housing would be exempted.

I was OK with this new policy since none of the current public comment/review process is replaced. However, I am a little worried that this indicates that we expect a lot of these types of requests and are developing a process to handle them in bulk.

Many members of the public have commented on the negative impacts that recent development has had on Fremont. Many residents are getting frustrated. Traffic is getting worse, our schools are overcrowded, and we don’t have the money to properly take care of our roadways.

I commented in a recent meeting that Fremont is planning to develop over

8,000 homes over the next eight or so years. I noted that this puts us on a pace of development that is TWO AND A HALF TIMES faster than the pace we’ve grown at in the last eight years. Clearly, the problems associated with increased development will get significantly worse just with the development that is currently in the pipeline.

Additional residential development will make things even worse. Any new residential development should pay for the full impacts that it would cause in terms of traffic, schools, police & fire, parks, etc. Unfortunately, some of the recent conversions that we have seen to residential (i.e. Connolly’s) have not been required to pay for the full impacts they have caused.

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