Join our summer campaign for rezoning religious land for affordable housing

5 Aug

Making Housing and Community Happen is committed to helping churches and religious institution to have affordable housing built on their underutilized land, but most can’t do so because of zoning issues.  This summer  we were able to get  57 letters on this topic  sent to the City Council; our goal is 100 by the end of August. Please use the template and talking points below to write to the City Council.

Please use  this email to ensure that your comments become part of the public record:,

You can also add these emails to make sure that City Council members see your comments:,,,,,,,

Talking points

Please consider using one of the following talking points when you write to the City Council or speak up. Be sure to preface your remarks by mentioning your name, district (or City Council member) and something about yourself, such as how long you’ve lived in Pasadena, your religious affiliation, or some story about the need for affordable housing that inspires you to speak or write. Remember to keep your remarks to 250 words or 1.5 minutes. It’s also a good idea to thank the Council for the good work they’ve done around affordable housing, but remind that much more needs to be done.

Dear Mayor Gordo and City Council members,

My name is ________________ and I am a member of _______________________________.  (your church, club, or neighborhood association, etc.. If you know your district or Congressmember, include that info. ) I urge you to support a city-wide zoning change that would make it feasible as well as possible for congregations to have affordable housing built on their underutilized land.

Talking point #1: I want to thank the Council for all you’ve done to create affordable housing in the City, but we clearly have not come close to meeting our RHNA goals or the vision of our City to provide “decent, safe and affordable housing  for every Pasadena resident” As you know, the City is required by the state to plan for nearly 6,000 units of affordable housing over the next eight years. This goal may seem impossibly high, but the need for affordable housing is critical. That’s why I feel that that rezoning religious land for affordable housing is a great idea that has been needlessly delayed and should be put back on the agenda and approved as soon as possible. It should also be in the Housing Element as long this doesn’t delay its implementation. A handful of churches across Pasadena are stepping up to offer their land for affordable housing, but they need the zoning to be changed so they can accomplish their vision. This zoning change will speed up the process of building the housing we need and will make the process considerably less expensive, making affordable housing dollars stretch further.

Talking point # 2: Why is this only for religious congregations? Affordable housing should be encouraged throughout the City, and congregations provide a unique opportunity for that to happen. This is a match made in heaven because their land is often vacant most of the week, with deferred maintenance on buildings they can’t afford to fix and facilities often built for congregations much larger than what they have today. Furthermore, congregations, the longtime social “glue” for our neighborhoods, have a vested interest in continuing to serve the community. Downsizing and/or gaining a little extra income helps them stay vital, playing a significant role in our community. Historically, religious groups have built hospitals, schools and retirement communities, it is natural for them today to supply housing for the community.
Talking point #3: Why is it important to allow affordable housing “by-right”? “By-right” means that a property owner has a right to build on their land. In this case, our proposal would give religious congregations the right to build housing that is at least 50% affordable at a contextually appropriate height and density. This matters because quality affordable housing developers know that applying for a discretionary approval in Pasadena takes at least one year, costs at least $100,000 in consultant and City fees, and may ultimately be denied. They are hence reluctant to partner with congregations lacking appropriate zoning. By-right affordable housing projects still require engagement with the community to improve the design, parking, etc., but the congregation’s right to build affordable housing would not be challenged.

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