State housing officials again sent back Woodside's housing element for revisions, but the latest feedback shows the town has made progress, according to a May 12 letter to the town.
The eight-page letter said that there are still outstanding questions about some suggested housing sites, such as Cañada College, where the town suggested 75 units could be developed. State officials are also requesting additional details on the town's infrastructure needs and analysis of special housing needs, like for farmworkers, in the document the town submitted to the state on March 15.
This letter is much shorter than the state's prior critique sent to Woodside in October, which requested the town address concerns in its first draft of the element submitted in July 2022. There are some sections of the state's letter this month that simply tell the town to refer to previous feedback.
"We are pleased that there are no material objections in the response letter from the state and anticipate resolving the open comments and gaining approval for the state-mandated housing element," said Mayor Chris Shaw in an email.
The town is required to plan for 328 units as part of the 2023-31 Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). It is a big jump from the previous requirement to plan for 62 units. The latest draft includes 393 units to allow for a buffer. Of those units, 120 are backyard accessory dwelling units (ADUs).
"The revised draft element addresses many statutory requirements; however, revisions will be necessary to substantially comply with state housing element law," according to the letter. "HCD (the state Department of Housing and Community Development) appreciates the hard work and dedication (former Planning Director Jackie Young) and the Woodside housing element team provided."
Specific feedback from the state
Cañada College site: Given that Woodside included the community college site at 4200 Farm Hill Blvd. during the last housing element cycle, the town must include programs to monitor the progress in development, including rezoning or identifying alternative sites if the development does not proceed as anticipated, according to the state.
Town-owned sites: The element was revised to include plans to accommodate housing on two town-owned sites, one on High Road and one on Raymundo Drive. However, the plans should also clarify whether there are any known barriers to development, including relocation of existing uses, the state notes.
Infrastructure: While the element includes a general discussion of sewer capacity, it must still demonstrate sufficient existing or planned water, sewer and dry utility capacity to accommodate the additional units for the planning period, and add or modify programs to address constraints related to the accessibility of infrastructure on identified housing sites, HCD said.
Environmental constraints: While the element now discusses environmental constraints on identified sites, it should still discuss any other known conditions that preclude development during the planning period, according to the state. Examples include parcel shape, easements and conditions.
Housing needs: The town must analyze any special housing needs such as for the elderly; people with disabilities; large families; farmworkers; families with female heads of households; and families and people in need of emergency shelter, the letter states.
What happens if a compliant housing element isn't passed on time
The state notes that if a local government fails to adopt a compliant housing element by May 31, which is 120 days after the deadline of Jan. 31, then any site rezoning must be completed no later than Jan. 31, 2024.
Several federal, state, and regional funding programs consider housing element compliance as an eligibility or ranking criteria, according to HCD.
Without a state-approved housing element, the town may not meet housing element requirements for Caltrans, the Strategic Growth Council and HCD's Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program, and HCD's Permanent Local Housing Allocation and other funding sources.
Read the full second draft at tinyurl.com/woodsidedraft2.
Read the full letter here.
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