In terms of background, the current 2020 General Plan planned for 1,600 additional units to be constructed between 2009 and 2020. The majority of these units—some 1,423 units—were projected to be developed on the Housing Element opportunity sites and the North Forty Specific Plan area. We understand that of the 1,600 additional units projected, only approximately 500 have been built thus far. This leaves capacity for approximately 1,100 additional units with no changes whatsoever to existing residential densities.
When the Town began the process of updating the 2020 General Plan, Staff acknowledged that “the existing General Plan is serving the community well,” and that the Proposed Plan “provides the opportunity to refine the General Plan, address emerging trends and recent State laws, and consider new issues.” (Staff Report to the Town Council, November 17, 2020, p. 5; see also General Plan Update, September 2019 [further noting that the General Plan update effort was “intended to be a fine-tuning of the existing General Plan, rather than a comprehensive overhaul of the document.”].)
A December 2019 Land Use Alternatives Report prepared by Town Staff presented four growth alternatives (labeled A-D) with net new housing ranging from 1,156 to 3,176 units. At its April 7, 2020 meeting, the Town Council approved Land Use Alternative C. That alternative called for 2,303 additional housing units. At the November 17, 2020 Town Council meeting, Councilmembers indicated that new housing should be focused in Community Place Districts without increasing the allowed densities in Low Density Residential areas or changing the Downtown/Central Business District.
The Draft EIR (“DEIR”) for the Proposed Plan states that one of the Proposed Plan’s “central objectives” is to achieve the RHNA figure assigned to the Town. (DEIR, pp. 2-7, 6-1.) The RHNA figure assigned to the Town is 1,993 units. Yet, the DEIR then proceeds to analyze 3,738 dwelling units—nearly double the assumed RHNA figure. In reality, the Proposed Plan, with its increased densities across almost all land use designations, could enable development of tens of thousands of new housing units. This growth was not acknowledged let alone factored into the DEIR, as legally required.
In its December 2, 2021 report to the Town Council on the Proposed Plan, Staff noted that the Planning Commission had the authority to recommend a lower housing number than that studied and assumed in the DEIR, with commensurate changes to the Proposed Plan. Staff also indicated that the report to the Planning Commission would include an option for approximately 2,000 units with associated modifications needed to the Proposed Plan to achieve this lower housing capacity.
In December 2021, the Association of Bay Area Governments (“ABAG”) approved its final RHNA Plan for Bay Area cities. Under that Plan, the Town will need to identify housing sites for 1,993 units. As is typical, the Town’s allocation is separated into four income categories: Very Low: 537 units, Low: 310 units, Moderate: 320 units, and Above Moderate: 826 units. ABAG’s RHNA Plan was approved by the State Department of Housing & Community Development (“HCD”) on January 12, 2022.