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Meeting Date: April 05, 2016
JOINT SPECIAL MEETING
LIVINGSTON CITY COUNCIL AND PLANNING COMMISSION
FEBRUARY 23, 2016
A Joint Special Meeting of the Livingston City Council and Planning Commission was held on February 23, 2016, in the City Council Chambers with Mayor Pro-Tem. Samra presiding.
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Pro-Tem. Samra called the special meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.
CITY COUNCIL ROLL CALL
Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza (Excused Absence)
Mayor Pro-Tem Gurpal Samra
Council Member Jim Soria (Excused Absence)
Council Member Arturo Sicairos
PLANNING COMMISSION ROLL CALL
Chair Ranjeet Jhutti
Vice-Chair Mario Mendoza (Excused Absence)
Commissioner Warren Urnberg
Commissioner Francisco Mendoza-Gonzalez
Commissioner Adanan Bath (Excused Absence)
Alternate Commissioner Robert (Bob) Wallis
CHANGES TO THE AGENDA
DISCUSSION – STUDY SESSION
REVIEW OF DRAFT HOUSING ELEMENT UPDATE 2016-2024
This public informational meeting was arranged for consultants to provide an update on the status and completion of the Housing Element Update 2016-2024, accept public comment, answer questions, and discuss the next steps.
Contract City Planner Randy Hatch explained the purpose of this study session and gave some background information on the Housing Element and the process to follow for the completion of the City’s Housing Element Update.
The City’s Housing Element is an element of the City’s General Plan. It is documentation of what the existing housing condition is in the community, what the available land for housing is, and how it is zoned.
It helps to set out where the City plans to grow in the future. Housing is a very important component of that growth.
Unlike all the other elements of the General Plan, the Housing Element has a lot of State regulations associated with it. There is a specific time table of when the Housing Element needs to be updated and a specific process to do that.
The Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is charged with looking at the housing numbers assigned by the State Housing and Community Development (HCD) and then tries to find a fair way to divide that amongst all the member jurisdictions – the County itself and all the cities.
Those numbers are our Regional Allocation, most commonly known as our fair share numbers. Each jurisdiction is supposed to be able to accommodate its fair share of the State’s growth.
The City’s previous Housing Element was reviewed by the State and certified to be in compliance with State law.
It is important to know that cities don’t actually provide housing, but they play a big role in making sure there is available land properly zoned for a wide variety of housing types. Cities also assist by seeking grants and other opportunities to provide housing opportunities that are affordable to low income residents.
Part of the reason the State gets involved in this regulation is to prevent cities from excluding a particular housing type and a particular citizenry. The City has to prove they are being proactive in allowing for housing to be developed, encouraging for the private sector and the nonprofit sector to develop housing in our community, and are not putting up barriers to prevent housing.
The State rewards cities that in the past have complied. The City of Livingston is subject to those rewards. What the State, in essence, says is, “Since you had a previous Housing Element that was in compliance, when you do your update, we are going to look at it and follow the rules, but you can have an expedited or streamlined process where we will just look at those areas that need update. We will only look at the changes and make sure that you provide your County’s fair share allocation.
That makes it easier for the City to prepare a Housing Element because it is focusing on just those aspects and most importantly because it makes it far easier for the State Housing and Community Development Department to look at our Housing Element and find it in compliance.
Staff felt it was cost effective and more efficient to seek a Housing Element expert to update its Housing Element, so the City sent out a Request for Proposals (RFP) and hired the firm of Mintier Harnish. The lead person from that firm is Chelsey Payne. She is in attendance tonight.
Contract City Planner Hatch stated that as part of the community outreach effort, the City held two workshops with the public on January 26, 2016 – a stakeholder workshop during the day (for those with a business interest) and a community workshop in the evening (for the general public), and now this joint Planning Commission and City Council study session is offered as a continuing effort to further explain what staff has prepared, answer questions, and take additional public comment.
He said the goal after this session is to get direction from Planning Commission and City Council and based upon that direction, staff will modify the draft document prepared by Mintier Harnish, and then send it to the HCD. Upon their review, HCD will make comments and submit back to the consultants.
A subsequent public hearing will then be scheduled for the Planning Commission to review HCD’s comments and take any additional public input and make a recommendation to the City Council. The City Council will also review HCD’s comments and any suggestions from the public and the Planning Commission and then adopt the Housing Element.
Mayor Pro-Tem. Gurpal Samra asked Contract City Planner Hatch to explain how the Housing Element relates to the City’s General Plan.
Contract City Planner Hatch explained how all elements of the General Plan are required to be consistent with each other.
Chelsey Payne, Mintier Harnish Consultants gave a PowerPoint Presentation on the following:
· Housing Element Requirements
§ One of 7 mandated general plan elements.
§ New 8-year timeframe set by State law. Adoption deadline March 31, 2016.
· HCD Streamlined Review
§ Department of Community Development will only review the sections that have changed since the last housing element.
· Housing Element Contents
§ They look at potential governmental constraints.
§ The big focus of this section is the City’s land resources.
§ Not proposing new residential sites, only describing existing sites.
§ Economic diversity is needed.
· Housing Plan – Goals, Policies, Programs, and Quantified Objectives
§ Address issues of fair housing and housing discrimination.
· Policy/Program Changes
§ Minor update of 2009-2014 Housing Element.
§ Removed completed and infeasible programs.
· Public Participation
§ Stakeholders and Community Workshops – 7 people in attendance.
§ Outreach Methods – Newspaper notice, e-mail announcements, flyers, City website.
· Public Review Draft Housing Element
§ Published 2/18/16 and emailed to stakeholders.
· 2014-2023 Regional Housing Needs Allocation 15,850 housing units
§ Livingston’s fair share 1,023 housing units.
· 2014-2023 Livingston Projected Housing Needs by Income Category
· Housing Types and Affordability – Low, Moderate, Above Moderate
§ City must demonstrate it has enough vacant land zoned at appropriate densities to accommodate the projected new housing units for each income category.
· How will the City meet the RHNA?
§ Vacant residential land inventory – Based on all of the assumption in the Housing Element, Livingston has a surplus capacity for all income categories.
§ Approved residential developments.
· 2014-2023 Development and Remaining Housing Need
§ Units built since start of projection period January 2014.
§ Approved projects.
§ Capacity on Vacant sites.
§ Mobile Home Park capacity.
· Project Schedule – Milestones and Estimated Dates
§ HCD Review of Housing Elmenet – HCD has 60 days to review.
§ 30-day Environmental Review Period.
§ Public Hearing – Draft Housing Element.
§ Public Hearing – Planning Commission adoption hearing.
§ Public Hearing – City Council adoption hearing.
Mayor Pro-Tem. Samra opened the public comment period at 7:41 p.m.
Luis Enrique Flores, 707 Almondwood Drive
1. Asked why the Monte Cristo Adult Community Mobile Home Park is shown on the vacant residential site inventory map (Figure 4-1) as a planned and approved project when it is already existing.
2. In reference to housing goals and policies, he asked why there were no changes made to the goals. Are the goals being carried over from the current Housing Element? Once this Housing Element is completed and it needs to be reviewed again, how do we know that the goal has been accomplished and we can start a new goal?
3. He saw a statement in the document that the City doesn’t have any record of code enforcement. He asked why that is.
Consultant Payne responded to Mr. Flores’ questions.
1. Monte Cristo Adult Community Mobile Home Park is not a newly approved project, but since there are still some vacant spaces within the mobile home park, they are counting it the same as the recently approved projects.
2. The goal statements were not changed because staff did not receive any input at the stakeholders or community workshops that would give them any direction that the goals needed to be changed, although input can still be provided. She added that goals are meant to be something to strive for. Implementation measures that are reported to the State are supposed to help the City meet its goals.
3. As for code enforcement, staff did not find any code enforcement cases related to housing issues.
City Planner Hatch explained that on code enforcement issues, the City tends to operate on a complaint basis. Staff has records of code enforcement issues, but not specifically related to livability or suitability of a dwelling unit.
Planning Commission Chair Jhutti asked if the other housing projects that were highlighted in blue in the vacant residential sites inventory map were also already approved projects similar to the Monte Cristo Mobile Home Park. Some of these projects started during the housing bubble and have unfinished lots.
Consultant Payne said all projects shown on the map are approved projects. She described these projects as approved projects because they can’t be called vacant sites. On a vacant site, there is no project.
Chair Jhutti asked what differentiates the Monte Cristo Mobile Home Park from the other projects.
Mayor Pro-Tem. Samra explained that at Monte Cristo there is no infrastructure needed. If someone wants to move their mobile home there, they can just move it in immediately as long as there is vacancy. They don’t have to worry about a foundation.
Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, P.O. Box 163, Livingston
1. Page 3-23, paragraph 1, talks about the 100-year flood plain, but aren’t we now supposed to plan for a 200-year flood plain? How will that impact the Housing Element?
2. The Storm Drain Master Plan that is referenced in the Housing Element is close to 10 years old. Is this document going to be updated and how will that affect the Housing Element?
3. Page 3-19, Residential Care Facilities, states that facilities serving 15 or more persons are not permitted at all in the City. Won’t these facilities qualify for either supportive or transitional housing for the elderly or the disabled? Are these associated living facilities of 15 or more people banned throughout the City? How does that fit with accommodations?
4. Page 4-12 talks about ground water levels and the need of recharge. While it does state there is enough water to build out to the City’s sphere of influence, it does not address the effect the drought has had on recharge and groundwater levels and groundwater availabilities. She asked what water study was referenced. Water is a limited factor. If you don’t have enough water, you cannot build more. She thinks the water issue needs to be addressed a little bit more.
5. Referred to page 6-11, CUP Requirements on Affordable Projects funded by State or Federal funds. She asked the purpose is in requiring anyone to have a CUP if the CUP process is eliminated when a project is funded by the State or Federal government.
Consultant Payne responded to Ms. Schell-Rodriguez questions.
1. On the flood plain, they carried over the analysis from the last housing element, but Ms. Schell-Rodriguez is correct in saying there is a new requirement of a 200-year plain, so it is worth looking at the impacts that a 200-year plain may have. They will look at that and determine if it will make any of these sites infeasible. Sometimes it only means that there will be specific requirements imposed on the site.
2. On the question about the storm drain master plan, Engineering staff did review this section and made the updates to that section, so she is confident that the information is up to date.
3. The question about the facilities of group homes serving 15 or more, that is a good point that some of those may fall under the category of supportive housing and group homes for people with disabilities, but it depends of the definition. Group homes are licensed by the State. They are a specific type of housing. There is some overlap of supportive housing, but they are not exactly the same thing. The code amendment coming before Council at their next meeting to allow supportive housing and transitional housing where residential is allowed will certainly expand housing opportunities to people with disabilities.
City Planner Hatch said the City has obligations to do special incentives for affordable housing and that could well be a special incentive, so he thinks that is why the prior Housing Element had that.
4. In regards to the water issue, they can provide more analysis of the constraints related to water if it is desired by the City. However, in terms of the City showing it has the land available to meet its housing needs, while water is certainly a constraint, the threshold is showing that you can meet your RHNA is really if you have the land zoned for residential development. They can acknowledge water supply constraints, but that is not something that the City has great control over. If it is determined that is a major impact, they can have a program for the City to continue to address that issue, but it doesn’t mean that the City hasn’t made the zoning available for development.
5. The question about Program 17 about the CUP requirement, that is certainly open for discussion. This is a program that was carried forward from the last Housing Element and it probably came from the State identifying the CUP requirement as a potential constraint on affordable housing development, so they probably said they wanted to see a program like this in there. If it is determined this is not appropriate as written, they can modify it.
Colette Alvernaz, P.O. Box 255, Livingston
1. We have a traffic nightmare on the Winton Parkway. You have a school there and traffic backs up past the stop sign at 8:00 a.m. The E&J Gallo crush plant has increased since 2009. There are lots of trucks coming and going during the busy season. Transportation has changed greatly and that needs to be addressed.
2. The Housing Element needs to address the impacts to the emergency and evacuation routes. The roads are impacted at certain times of the day. Adding more households to the area will compound the problem and slow down the emergency and evacuation routes. That impact needs to be looked at.
3. Asked for a copy of the water study. It is not properly addressed in this document. The statements made about the water studies are inaccurate.
4. Excessive surface water applied by the farmers … How old is this document? Farmers are not applying any excess surface water. They have gone to drip and micro-sprinklers; They are not flooding. That information is incorrect.
5. She asked what General Plan and master plans are being used. The court set aside the 2009 Draft EIR and General Plan and the 2007 Master Plans because they were wrong. They needed to be corrected and the City has not corrected them. The City’s 2009 Housing Element Master Plan was built on a document that the courts set aside and now the City is saying that it is certified and they now only need to do minor touch ups. She agrees with the 1999 General Plan which states that there is plenty of land within the City of Livingston for building, but build wisely.
6. Agricultural zoning does not existing in the City’s general plan. This is a violation. The court said the City has to have an agriculture designation. It needs to be addressed.
7. Asked for a copy of the City’s updated master plans. She desperately wants to see that her permanent agriculture easement farmland that is in a Williamson Act is out of the City’s master plans.
8. The City’s emergency evacuation route is on a field that is in a permanent agriculture easement.
9. The City does not allow housing for an elderly care facility or a developmentally disabled residential facility that has 15 or more? Do you guys want to get sued by the Disability Act people? This makes the City look like it does not want to have elderly.
10. She submitted written comments on the CUP for Somerset 1and then the meeting was cancelled. She was told that those comments would be kept and would be addressed when they built that area out, yet it was annexed. She wants to know what happened to her public comments. How were they addressed when annexing that into the City and building it? That poor farmer has a huge complex looking over his back yard now. The City ruined the agricultural environment for him. The City is offensive over and over again to the rural community.
11. She requests that her written comments be included with the draft sent to the State Housing and Community Development.
Consultant Payne said she can respond to Ms. Alvernaz’ questions, but she cannot respond to her comments.
1. The information about the water studies was provided by the Public Works/Engineering staff, so she will talk to and provide more documentation on that.
Ms. Alvernaz said she specifically requests the water study and the master plans. She wants to review everything the consultants used to support the Housing Element document. The documents should be made available to the public.
Ms. Alvernaz submitted her written comments to the Clerk taking the minutes.
Doug Wells, 16508 West River Road, Livingston
1. It is very important to have assisted living facilities available in Livingston. Grace Nursing Home is currently the only facility in Livingston and they have a waiting list. That issue needs to be addressed.
2. Right now the farmers are getting hit with what’s called Sustainable Groundwater Act. If the City is not looking at it from a City point of view, they are making a major mistake. We’ve had 3-4 years of drought and from what he understand from MID, with State regulations being what they are, they expect to experience a man made route every three years coming out of McClure reservoir because most of our gravity water is being allocated elsewhere and shipped out of our valley. Without your gravity water, you will not sustain your ground water.
3. In the Housing Element document, it says static level of groundwater in Livingston is 25 feet. He just drilled a well at his place last week and static level of groundwater for him is 55 feet and he lives close to the River, so he doesn’t think 25 feet is correct.
4. In regards to transportation, he lives one-quarter mile from Gallo winery. The winery increased their capacity by 17 percent. Before then, they had 123 large tanks, 500,000 gallons a piece. Now there are going to be 70 Million gallons of fluid being transported and Winton Parkway will not hold it.
Interim City Manager Odi Ortiz said The City is being proactive in addressing the groundwater sustainability concerns. The City is part of the regional efforts at the County level so they do participate in those efforts.
Mr. Wells said he hopes the City understands that the first person that will be affected will be the farmer. His whole livelihood will go down the river.
Mayor Pro-Tem. Samra said the State is getting heavily involved in monitoring the water. There are going to be some strict guidelines coming up. MID, the cities and other agencies are all getting involved. They are working together. Farmers want to grow crops; cities have to provide housing for people.
You can tell cities not to build anymore homes, but cities need to provide housing for the people. Cities don’t build housing; they just help to manage what comes in.
In regards to the senior housing, if Grace Nursing Home would be interested in expanding, he would be the first one to support it. He understands the need for senior housing.
People comment Livingston has too many empty lots and ask why we are trying to build other projects. Well, if the City restricts too much, it becomes unaffordable. If you look at the price of a median home, based on Livingston’s incomes, they are actually higher and that is because we have less options for people to build in Livingston.
In reference to the water studies, the City and MID are still working on that. They will come to the City Council in a public hearing when the work is completed.
Planning Commission Comments/Questions
· He understands the Housing Element pertains to housing and so that is why it does not address agriculture a whole lot. He asked if agriculture is addressed in the General Plan.
City Planner Hatch pointed out that all the agricultural land is outside the City limits. It is in the General Plan area, but not in the City limits. The General Plan does indicate that.
· Asked if there were any discussions at the stakeholders and community workshops regarding ways of improving the building permit process.
Consultant Payne explained they encouraged the development community to attend, but unfortunately no developers attended the workshop. Most stakeholders that attended the workshop were service providers from health care, the board of education, and the school districts.
· On page 2-27, the third paragraph refers to Livingston-Cressey Road. That road was changed to North Main Street.
Alternate Commissioner Wallis
· He asked for clarification on Appendix B regarding dilapidated housing.
Consultant Payne said this is the housing survey conducted in 2007. These units were just intended to represent the current housing conditions in the community, but there are some programs to address housing conditions. She explained the City has a program using CDBG funds and mostly home funds for Housing Rehabilitation. It is an existing home loan program for low income households to be able to do home repairs and that is described in the Housing Element.
Planning Commission Chair Jhutti
· Asked if the Regional Transportation funds collected by the City actually go towards mitigating the traffic issues we have in the City.
· He would have liked a comparison with other cities in regards to permit and development impact fees to see how competitive we are in development. He thinks that would be a good addition to the Housing Element.
Interim City Manager Ortiz gave some feedback on the Regional Transportation Fee and how those funds are used. MCAG manages the pool of those funds. The City collects the funds and surrenders them to MCAG. Some cities participate in the program and others do not, so the money put in the pool is not significant enough to address all the projects on the list for all the participating cities. They do have the Winton Parkway area as a possible project from this program, but it may be 10-15 years out before they can start funding this project.
Mayor Pro-Tem. Samra added that the MCAG website shows the project plan and Livingston is not anywhere near. No a lot of revenue has been collected to fund projects on the list, but we have to start somewhere. MCAG is the organization countywide that manages these funds because we use that money for local matches to get State and Federal funding. As far as Livingston’s overall development fees, Livingston is about 30% cheaper than any other city around.
Council Member Alex McCable said Livingston is the least expensive in this region.
Interim City Manager Ortiz stated the City has reached out to Caltrans on the expansion of the off and on ramps to Highway 99. It is their responsibility and that has been communicated to them.
Mayor Pro-Tem. Samra said the City is looking to connect Winton Parkway to F Street. That will alleviate a lot of the traffic going to the schools.
Consultant Payne said they will look at other cities’ housing elements to come up with a development fee comparison and include it in the Livingston Housing Element.