Talking points to let our elected officials know that we want Pasadena to plan for 6,000 units of affordable housing in the next 8 years, as required by the state

24 May

Dear Supporter of Affordable Housing,

We have a golden opportunity to let our elected officials know that we want them to comply with a state mandate requiring it to plan for 6,000 units of desperately needed affordable housing in the next 8 years. Some in the City would like to continue our “slow growth” approach, which has produced only 388 units of low, very-low and moderate income housings in the past 8 years. This status quo approach will lead to more homelessness, more housing insecurity, and an increasing exodus of low-income people, many of whom are people of color and essential workers. Lack of affordable housing will also have a negative impact on our city’s schools, health, traffic, pollution, etc. 

Scroll down for talking points to use to contact elected officials and the Planning Committee, which is holding a meeting on the Housing Element on Wednesday, June 2, at 6:00 pm. Let them know we want them and the City Council to take seriously the RHNA requirement that the City plan for 6,000 units of affordable housing in the next 8 years. Please feel free to make policy recommendations based on the talking points provided below. Be sure to provide some personal background and reason for your concern. 

If you want to take part in the meeting,

Submit public comment of any length to prior to the meeting day.

Mayor Victor Gordo
District 1 Tryon Hampton: Ms. Cushon Bell –
District 2 Felecia Williams: Darla Dyson –
District 3 John Kennedy: Susana Porras –
District 4 Gene Masuda: Noreen Sullivan –
District 5 Jess Rivas: Margo Morales –
District 6 Steve Madison:
District 7 Andy Wilson: Pam Thyret –
For convenience, you can copy and paste all of the addresses from below:


  1. I am deeply concerned about the lack of affordable housing in our city. According to the Planning Department’s Report of September 14, 2020, only 388 permits for moderate, low and very low income units were issued in the 2014-2021 RHNA period. The current RHNA requires that the City plan for over 6,000 units of affordable housing. That goal may seem high, but no one disputes that the need is real and urgent. I believe we are morally as well as legally obliged to do our best to meet this need. According to the last Housing Element, 43% of renters and 34% of homeowners are severely cost burdened, i.e. paymore than half of their income on housing. That adds up to around 20,000 residents of our city! We need the Housing Element to reflect this urgency and contain innovative ideas to ensure that the housing needs of Pasadena’s residents are met.
  2. I urge you to approve innovative proposals like allowing congregations to have affordable housing to be built on their underutilized land. RHNA is requiring 6,000 units of affordable housing to be built in the next 8 years and the HCD wants cities to come up with realistic plans to meet that goal. Churches have a track record of building affordable housing that is consistent with the character of neighborhoods. Phil Burns of the Arroyo Group has come up with a detailed plan to make sure that if churches build affordable housing, it will be in scale and consistent with neighborhood character. This comprehensive plan is superior to the one-size-fits-all approach that the state may impose if the cities don’t come up with plans tailored to their needs. I urge you to support the proposal to let congregations have the right to meet our city’s urgent need for affordable housing.
  3. I agree with Councilmember John Kennedy that the City needs to produce 1,000 units of affordable housing in the next 1000 days. We agree with Councilmember Kennedy that affordable housing needs to be built throughout the city. I urge the Planning Commission to recommend dropping all fees for ADUs to those renting to Section 8 tenants. We need to incentivize homeowners to build affordable ADUs.
  4. I am sure that you’re aware that our city and state are in an affordable housing crisis. Many are leaving our state because they can’t afford to live here. There has been no population growth in our city since 2015, in part because of our “slow-growth” housing policies. That’s why the state is mandating that the city plan for 9,000 units of housing in the next 8 years, with 6,000 units being affordable. Some say that our city is “built out” and there isn’t room for more housing, but that’s a myth. We have parking lots that could be utilized for housing. We have one-story commercial buildings that could include one or two stories of housing. We have underutilized office space and other buildings that could be converted to affordable housing. We have churches eager to have affordable housing built on their underutilized land. We need to make the zoning adjustments necessary to ensure “smart growth” in our city so that there is decent and affordable housing for everyone in our city.
  5. I urge the Planning Commission to take seriously the RHNA requirement that 6,000 units of affordable housing be planned for in the next 8 years. As you know, HCD will hold cities accountable for meeting their RHNA goal. If our City doesn’t show good faith in trying to meet these goals, it could open itself up to litigation and lose a lot of local control. If the City has not considered reasonable proposals for increasing the stock of affordable housing, like making zoning adjustments for congregational land, it could lose its certification or face lawsuits. The City would be wise to incorporate into its Housing Element, or better yet, pass ordinances, that would show good faith in meeting its RHNA goals for affordable housing.
  6. We desperately need affordable and supportive housing in our city. According to the most recent count, our city has over 500 homeless people, 350 of whom are sleeping on our streets and these numbers are likely to rise when the Eviction Moratorium is lifted. I urge you to make whatever zone changes are needed to ensure that the City can meet its RHNA goal of 6,000 units of affordable housing. We not only have a moral responsibility to house our unhoused neighbors, it makes our city safer and is good for business!
  7. I am concerned that if the City doesn’t plan for 6,000 units of affordable housing, people of color and low-income will continue to be forced to leave our city. So will police and other city workers. 55% of our teachers live 45 minutes to an hour away from our city. Many are forced to commute long distances to work in our city, thereby increasing traffic and pollution. Affordable housing will make our city more livable for everyone, and it’s good for our planet!
  8. I urge the Planning Commission to recommend that the City do its best to meet the RHNA goals of 6,000 units of affordable housing in the next 8 years because it will not only meet an urgent need for housing, it will also bring investment to our city. Most affordable housing is built with funds that come from state and federal sources. Our city has a 20-20-20 rule that requires that 20 % of hires, 20% of contractors and 20% of materials be local. Heritage Square North, which provides affordable housing for seniors, brought 6 million dollars in investment to our city! Our city also requires that those who work and live in our city, or have been recently displaced, be given preference. Affordable housing is an economic as well as social benefit to our city. We need the Housing Element to take these benefits into consideration as it plans for the future of our city’s housing needs.
  9. I am concerned that around 2,000 babies are born in our city each year, but we aren’t building enough housing to account fo population growth. Around 3,000 permits for housing were issued in the last 8 years, most of them at market rates. If this trend continues, many of our children will not be able to afford to live in Pasadena, or even in California. This is a statewide problem and many are leaving our city and our state because of a lack of affordable housing. Instead of stifling growth with onerous regulations and zoning, let’s plan our city so that our children can live here if they choose.
  10. I am concerned that many schools in our city have closed because many low-income residents have been forced to leave our city because of a lack of affordable housing. These low-income residents preform essential services in our city, as restaurant workers, house cleaners, gardeners, etc. Most city workers such as teachers and school staff are also unable to afford the rising cost of housing. We need to make sure that unneeded school property is used for affordable housing.
  11. I am concerned that overcrowding due to a lack of affordable housing is a health issue. The Latinx population was hardest hit by the pandemic in part because many work in low-pay “essential services” and then went home to overcrowded apartments where infectious disease spreads most easily. It is incumbent on the Planning Department and our City to reduce the overcrowding in our city by planning for much needed affordable housing, especially in areas where low-income people currently live and are been displaced due to gentrification.
  12. I am concerned that the Housing Element take into consideration renters, who comprise the largest segment of our city. There needs to be rent stabilization, robust renter protection, and ample rental assistance for those facing emergencies like temporary loss of job or unexpected medical expenses. Our elected officials often talk about “protecting” single family homeowners. It is equally important to protect renters. Incidentally, the prior Housing Element has many proposals for renter protection, most of which haven’t been implemented.
  13. I urge the Planning Committee to take seriously the new state mandate that the Housing Element take into consideration and plan for affirmatively furthering fair housing. Among other things, this means adjusting zoning so that affordable housing can be built throughout our city. The Housing Element also needs to address the problem of gentrification in Northwest Pasadena, which has led to the exodus of over a quarter of the City’s African American population. In light of Pasadena’s history of racial discrimination, it is important for the Housing Element to display real concern for racial equity and makes decent housing attainable for all.

One Response to “Talking points to let our elected officials know that we want Pasadena to plan for 6,000 units of affordable housing in the next 8 years, as required by the state”

  1. Rick Cole May 25, 2021 at 11:46 am #

    Important Planning Commission meeting! Great talking points!

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