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Planning Commission Receives Update on City’s Housing Element Update

During its Sept. 22 meeting, Santa Clara’s Planning Commission received an update on City’s Housing Element Update. Every eight years, local jurisdictions must update their housing elements with the state so that California can track plans for increasing housing and affordability levels. Santa Clara’s next Housing Element Update is due Jan. 31, 2023.

Based on the state’s allocation to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the City of Santa Clara would be responsible for adding 11,632 units between the years 2023 – 2031, approximately nine percent of the requirement for Santa Clara County. Of those, more than half of the units must be affordable housing units.

City staff reports that 4,093 units will be produced in Santa Clara between the years 2015 – 2023. Given that the next update will require that more than two and half times that number of units be produced over a similar eight-year period, city staff believes it will be difficult for Santa Clara to achieve the new goals required in the 2023 update.

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While the City cannot control how much housing is produced, it can control the regulations surrounding housing to increase Santa Clara’s ability to achieve the 11,632 units benchmark. City staff says it is considering the following:

  • Increase general plan growth capacity;
  • Create new areas for residential uses through long-range plans;
  • Loosen some Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) regulations;
  • Update the zoning code to streamline development review process;
  • Possibly amend housing ordinance to encourage the creation of more affordable units through the development process.

One concerned community member also suggested the City take a look at legal non-conforming use properties as a potential for growth.

“Why can’t we take this opportunity with the housing element update to address this situation of legal non-conforming use properties that have housing on them to work with us to allow us to be able to provide much needed affordable housing and allow it to be preserved, improved and intensified?” asked Dave Vieria of Lafayette Street.

Kalisha Webster with Housing Choices asked the City to put in more details about what it will do to address fair housing needs, specifically people with disabilities and the homeless.

Long range plans have placed the City of Santa Clara in a good position to date. City staff says projects like the El Camino Real Specific Plan, Downtown Precise Plan, Tasman East, Patrick Henry Drive and Freedom Circle Focus Area have the potential to create 16,000 units.

 

Commission Approves Expansion of Vidyarambh Preschool & Afterschool

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the existing use permit for the Vidyarambh Preschool & Afterschool located at 2931 El Camino Real at the old site of Summer Winds Nursery. The expansion will allow the school to add a modular building to house five classrooms, a staff room and kitchen. The modified use permit will also allow for the expansion of the outdoor activity area and add parking spaces.

Commissioner Lance Saleme noted that this preschool is a good example of what the Commission would like to see when it comes to outdoor play spaces for childcare facilities.

“Some of the car intrusion prevention, the posts that are out there, the heavy-duty nature of the fence, it’s probably worthy of note that this a good example for other, similar facilities, of how to do outdoor right,” said Saleme.

 

Commission Approves Sale and Consumption of Alcohol at Happy Hooligans

The Commission approved an ABC license for the Happy Hooligans restaurant at 1686 Lafayette Street with the added condition that alcohol only be served during the operation hours of seven days a week, 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

 

Study Session on Park Lift Technology

Members of the Planning Commission pre-approved funds to pay for training about park lift technology.

Currently, there are no planning matters to be discussed at the Oct. 13 meeting. City staff will attempt to schedule the park lift technology training for then. If it cannot, the Oct. 13 meeting will be canceled.

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