After opting not to adopt a housing element in late January, the town of Woodside has released an updated draft that includes more information on limits to sites proposed for future development and Town Council recommendations. The comment period for the latest document opened on March 7 and closes on Monday, March 13, when the town will send the draft to the state.
The draft takes into account Woodside Town Council direction from Jan. 31 and feedback from the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). The deadline for submitting its eight-year housing plan to the state was Jan. 31, but many of the council members asked staff to first do more research, given that building is difficult at the multifamily sites in the plan because of the town's lack of sewer systems, high fire risk and sloping terrain.
The town must plan for 328 units to be developed over the next eight years as part of the 2023-31 Regional Housing Needs Allocation.
"This Cycle 6 Housing Element will stretch the Woodside community to diversify its housing stock and to increase affordability," according to the draft element. "The Cycle 5 Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation was 62 units, which was achieved by constructing ADUs and single-family homes. The Cycle 6 RHNA allocation is 328 units. This creates a challenge in a high land and construction cost environment but also creates an opportunity to increase inclusivity in Woodside."
Woodside's draft calls for: 75 units of housing at Cañada College; 120 backyard accessory dwelling units (ADUs); 106 vacant single-family home sites; 16 units at 773 Cañada Road; 46 single non-vacant single-family home sites; 16 units at a town-owned High Road site; and 17 units at another town-owned site on Raymundo Drive.
The feasibility of the 75 housing units at Cañada College identified in the plan is in question because of a lack of funding. The district has indicated that 75-80 units at Cañada College is a reasonable assumption, according to the town.
In the 2022 state budget, $2 billion was allocated (over three years) to fund grants to support the development and expansion of affordable housing at community colleges and universities in the state. Half of the funds were designated for community colleges.
The state Department of Finance did not award a $98.5 million housing grant to the San Mateo County Community College District last year, when it sought to fund new 144,000-square-foot student housing development at the College of San Mateo (serving students from Skyline College and Cañada College as well), according to a staff report for a Oct. 26, 2022 district Board of Trustees meeting. The state did award the district a $200,000 planning grant for housing.
"With the high cost of housing in San Mateo County, providing affordable housing options to our students is a high priority," Executive Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services Richard Storti told the board in October.
The district applied in January for a state grant to support housing at the College of San Mateo campus. This year's plan includes 450 beds, fewer than in last year's plan, but more units will be apartment-style, Storti said. Rents would range from $400 to $700 per month, which is "unheard of in this area," he said.
If this year's grant is successful, the district would move to a second phase to obtain grant funding to support student and family housing at one of its other two campuses, including Cañada College. But Storti told The Almanac that the district intends to pursue this grant application, due in July, at Skyline College in San Bruno, not at Cañada. The district should find out if it will get the grant by mid-May, he said.
Woodside's consultants recommend the town add the fact that in July 2022, the San Mateo County Community College District adopted the 2022 districtwide facilities master plan that includes plans for housing at Cañada College. The district is seeking funding for student and family housing at its campuses.
"The town will assist the district in obtaining local nonprofit, state and/or federal financing to allow a portion of the units to be affordable to very low income (50 units) and low income (25 units) persons," the element states. "The specific timing of this assistance and this program will be determined with the district based on the district's facilities master plan implementation schedule but will be within the RHNA Cycle 6 planning period."
773 Cañada Road
The housing element notes that the 773 Cañada Road site, earmarked for 16 units, requires a connection to an existing sewer district.
The estimated cost of installing sewer service for 773 Cañada is $125,000, a minor cost for a development estimated to cost $16 million (the estimated development cost is $500 per square foot, not including the price of land), according to the town.
For the accessory units anticipated at the site, infrastructure serving the existing residence will serve the ADUs as well. The cost of expanding septic tanks or leach fields to accommodate ADUs will vary on a parcel-by-parcel basis.
Potential constraints on building 16 units at the town-owned one-acre High Road site include topography, drainage and soil conditions, according to the plan.
Its irregular shape may minimize the flexibility of the housing development types, the town notes.
The Raymundo Drive site has potential seismic constraints that may affect the project design but may not reduce the number of units that could be developed, according to comments the town is submitting to HCD.
Raymundo Drive has an estimated cost of $2.6 million for connection to the sewer system, which may reduce the land value but will not preclude development of the 17 units called for at the site, according to the town.
"Given that the town owns the site, land cost is not a constraint to develop housing," according to the town. "Utility providers are required to prioritize service to developments that provide affordable housing."
The High Road and Raymundo Drive properties owned by the town have been identified as candidates for redevelopment with affordable housing. The town plans to seek to partner with a nonprofit developer for the construction of workforce
housing to meet the needs of lower and moderate-income households in Woodside.
How to submit comments
Submit comments on the draft to Town Hall, 2955 Woodside Road, Woodside, CA, 94062; or email Planning Director Sage Schaan at [email protected]
HCD has up to 60 days to review the housing element draft, according to the town.
For more information, go to the town's website.
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