Let the Pasadena Planning Commission Know You Support Affordable Housing on Congregational Land and Throughout the City

21 Apr

On Wednesday, April 27, at 6:30 pm, the Planning Commission will hear a staff report along with public comments and make a recommendation to the City Council regarding rezoning congregational/institutional land for affordable housing. This is your chance to speak out by email or in person, letting Commissioners know that you support the MHCH proposal that would allow religious institutions to have affordable housing built on their underutilized property.

Additionally, the Planning Commission will hear a staff report on the Housing Element, a state-mandated housing plan for our city. Let the Commissioners know that you support the affordable housing proposals of MHCH and the Pasadena Affordable Housing Coalition. We’re advocating for a transfer tax on properties selling for more than $5 million to fund affordable housing as well as rezoning commercially zoned areas for mixed use and affordable housing. To learn more and for talking points, see link to blog.

Email: htam@cityofpasadena.net

Attend meeting: https://www.cityofpasadena.net/commissions/planning-commission/

Here are talking points for rezoning congregational land for affordable housing:

Begin with:

Dear Commissioners, Thank you for considering the proposal to rezone congregational/institutional land for affordable housing. I am writing in support of this innovative and much needed zone change.

Give your background (occupation, where you work, live or worship) and a sentence about why you care about housing our low-income and homeless neighbors.

Then pick one of these points and either copy-and-paste or rephrase in your own words:

  1. I urge the Commission to recommend predetermined standards for height and density, so churches and developers don’t have to go through a long, uncertain and costly process to get approvals. Developer rarely will take a project that required them to spend over $1 million dollars and wait three years for a zone change to make it possible to build affordable housing on their underutilized land. This proposal will eliminate needless delays and ensure that projects are actually built.
  2. The need for affordable housing is “desperate,” as our Mayor has pointed out. Soaring housing costs are driving low-income residents, especially people of color, out of our city. Even middle-class people can’t afford Pasadena’s spiraling rents or median home price, which is now over one million dollars. Allowing congregations to address this crisis is in keeping with the city’s mission: “All Pasadena residents have an equal right to live in decent, safe and affordable housing in a suitable living environment for the long-term well-being and stability of themselves, their families, their neighborhoods, and their community.” Allowing congregations to have affordable housing built on their underutilized land will help the city meet its state-mandated goal of 6,000 units of affordable housing in the next eight years.
  3. After nearly two years of research and vetting, this proposal has been carefully crafted to provide “desperately needed affordable, high quality, housing for all our residents” (as our Mayor described the goal of the Housing Task Force). These projects will not negatively impact single family neighborhoods since they will mainly be in areas that are zoned commercial or public/semi-public.
  4. Our proposal seeks development standards that will ensure that affordable housing built on congregational will be appropriate in size and scale for where they are located. In other words, if the adjacent zone allows for three stories, a three-story project should be allowed. We’re also recommending that the 800 block of N. Altadena Drive be rezoned for multifamily RM 32 development since it was downzoned even though multi-family housing already exists there.
  5. Churches are ideal sites for affordable housing since many are already involved in helping homeless and low-income individuals with food, clothing, and other services. Many churches have large parking lots that are underutilized during the week.
  6. This proposal will spread affordable housing throughout the city, thereby affirmatively furthering fair housing—a state-mandated goal seeking to undo policies that led to racial segregation and other inequities in our city.
  7. Pasadena residents will benefit from this proposal since those who live and work in, or who have been displaced from, our city will be given preference for housing thanks to our local preference ordinance.
  8. This proposal has the support of Pasadena Heritage. Historic churches will not be negatively impacted but given new life that benefits the community. Current laws (i.e. CEQA) protect historic churches. They cannot be demolished or affected without Council approval. Churches can be adaptively reused to ensure that they are preserved and useful.
  9. Our proposal recommends that affordable housing developers use the city’s concession menu, which are height and development standards that the City has already approved. By law developers could choose instead to use the state density bonus, which allows an 80% density bonus for a 100% affordable project. These extra units legally could be market rate, but affordable housing developers almost never do that because it isn’t financially feasible. Affordable housing developers typically pursue 100% affordable housing, except for units that need to be kept unrestricted as manager’s units or units controlled by the (previous) landowner. Affordable housing projects have to pay prevailing wage, which means construction costs tend to be 30% higher. Building market-rate units on-site with no subsidy but higher costs usually does not pencil out.

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