Piedmont committee reviews plans for housing element update – East Bay Times

PIEDMONT — The city’s Housing Advisory Committee met virtually May 19 to review aspects of the Piedmont Is Home campaign and the many moving parts to Piedmont’s ponderous-but-necessary housing element update to the city’s General Plan.

In the next planning cycle, for the years 2023 through 2031, Piedmont is mandated to create 587 new housing units. The current cycle is for 2015 till January 2023. It’s expected in the next cycle to build 163 very-low-income units, 94 low-income units, 92 moderate-income units and 238 above-moderate-income units, for a 979% increase from the current planning cycle. The advisory committee reviewed results of the fair housing community survey, strategies to further advance fair housing, sites inventory planning and guiding principles. The committee will meet again at 5 p.m. June 15.

This accessory dwelling unit (ADU) at 778 Kingston Ave. in Piedmont is one of the city’s recent ADU design award winners from the last couple years. A city map showing possibilities for creating ADUs to comply with state housing element mandates recently drew nearly 100 comments, a senior planner noted during the city’s Housing Advisory Committee meeting May 19. (photo courtesy of Kevin Jackson) 

The City Council in early May chose Lisa Wise Consulting for services related to a housing element update, planning ahead for challenges in a city with sparse buildable land. The council approved $691,230 for services by the consultant. The city will need to prepare and submit an updated housing element plan to the California Department of Housing and Community Development for certification by the end of 2022. Lisa Wise Consulting will provide lead research and planning, partnered with Plan to Place, which will lead public engagement efforts.

This accessory dwelling unit (ADU) at 67 Sylvan Way in Piedmont is one of the city’s recent ADU design award winners from the last couple years. (photo courtesy of Kevin Jackson) 

In response to the statewide housing crisis, California regulators are urging cities such Piedmont to up-zone land density to increase the production of housing for all incomes, including affordable housing. At the May 19 meeting, Senior Associate Monica Szydlik of Wise Consulting said there were 877 responses to a community survey. Numerous suggestions and comments were made, including using the unimproved Blair Park as a site for multi-unit housing. Senior planner Pierce Macdonald Powell cited 90 comments made about a site inventory map that showed possibilities for creating ADUs (accessory dwelling units).

“We need to be creative and innovative,” Powell said.

City staff are actively pursuing grant funds to help offset the costs of the housing element update and housing policy development. The city has been approved to receive $65,000 in Local Early Action Planning (LEAP) grant funds. Staff have also applied for $120,000 in grants through the state Regional Early Action Planning program. Piedmont has received $160,000 in funds from state Senate Bill 2 to assist with setting the stage for the next cycle of the housing element. Visit piedmontishome.org for details.

This basement-level accessory dwelling unit (ADU) at 1056 Park Lane in Piedmont is one of the city’s recent ADU design award winners from the last couple years. (photo courtesy of Kevin Jackson) 

The areas for the highest density of land use are Zones C (multifamily zone) and D (commercial and mixed-use zone). Zone A has the lowest density, zoned single-family-residential. Existing density for Zone C is nine to 20 dwelling units per acre; Zone D has a maximum of 20 units per acre. Planning Director Kevin Jackson said Monday that Piedmont has issued 73 permits for new housing units from 2015 through 2020 — 70 ADUs and three single-family residences. The current cycle allocation is 60 housing units.

“The city of Piedmont is close to meeting and surpassing the annual rate of construction of new housing units, having issued building permits for the construction of 73 new units out of a state-mandated allocation of 60 new units by the end of 2022,” Jackson said. “However, with the changes to state legislation … it will be challenging for Piedmont to show that sufficient low- and very-low-income housing is being produced under the 2015-2023 housing element’s programs and policies,” he added.

Linda Davis is a longtime Piedmont correspondent. Contact her with news tips or comments at dlinda249@gmail.com.