Note from TheGardeningSnail: Part of this post may have been produced by running a PDF Image File through a program that converts Image to Print. My apologies for any textual gremlins that may have crept in. I may also have broken up larger paragraphs for easier reading.
Meeting Date: June 21, 2016
AGENDA ITEM: Public Hearing to Consider Approval of a Resolution Approving the Negative Declaration and Approval of a Resolution Adopting the 2016 -2024 Housing Element Update.
MEETING DATE: June 21, 2016
PREPARED BY: Randy Hatch, Contract City Planner
REVIEWED BY: Odi Ortiz, Interim City Manager I Finance Director
At the conclusion of the public hearing, Staff and the Planning Commission recommend approval of a Resolution approving the Negative Declaration, as revised and clarified, and approval of a Resolution adopting the 2016 – 2024 Housing Element Update.
ACTION SINCE JUNE 8, 2016 PUBLIC HEARING:
At the June 8, 2016, City Council Public Hearing on this item, staff and the City’s Housing Element consultant made a presentation on the Housing Element Update emphasizing that this 2016 Housing Element does not make any substantial changes to the existing 2009 Housing Element.
The new Element is a minor update to address the City’s new Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) assigned to Livingston by MCAG. The policies in the 2016 Housing Element are largely the same as those in the 2009 Housing Element, and the City has reviewed the implementation programs with the goal of reducing the number of programs to reflect available City resources while still complying with State law.
The Housing Element Update does not include any changes to land use designations, zoning, building heights and intensities, or residential densities. It simply describes the capacity that already exists under current zoning within City limits. Adopting the Housing Element Update does not in any way increase the capacity for new development in Livingston.
Several people spoke at the Public Hearing addressing what they felt were flaws in the Housing Element Update questioning its CEQA documentation via an Initial Study and Negative Declaration. In staff’s opinion, the speakers were confused as to what this Housing Element Update was, thinking it was some type of growth plan. After all those who wished to speak had done so, Council continued deliberations on the Update to tonight’s meeting.
Staff felt that some additional clarification to the environmental document is warranted to address these speakers confusion and address their concern that this Element Update is some kind of growth plan accommodating increased growth. Accordingly, staff has made some clarifying revisions to the Initial Study dated June 15, 2016.
This revised clarified Initial Study is attached for review. Also attached are responses to the general comments made by the public at the Hearing. These two attachments are provided to clear up any misunderstanding that the public may have and to clarify to the Council the limited nature of this Housing Element Update and that an Initial Study I Negative Declaration is the proper environmental document.
As clarified, the Negative Declaration is recommended for approval and the 2016 Housing Element Update is recommended for adoption.
BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION:
As the Council is aware, the City is required by the State Housing Element law schedule to prepare and adopt an updated Housing Element for the 2016 -2024 time period. The City retained the services of a specialized housing consultant to assist us in this effort, Mintier Hamish.
The City formally began this update process in December 2015 with a kickoff meeting followed in January 2016 with Stakeholder and Community meetings. City staff and consultants prepared a Draft Housing Element Update in February 2016 to respond to the requirements of State law and the issues and concerns expressed by the public at the Stakeholder and Community meetings. The City then held a joint Planning Commission I City Council study session on February 23, 2016, to review the Draft Housing Element Update.
The preparation of Livingston’s 2016 -2024 Housing Element is allowed by State law to be an update rather than an entirely new document. The City qualifies for this treatment because the City’s prior Housing Element was found to be in full compliance with State housing element law and was "certified" by HCD.
Therefore, City staff and the consultants updated selected sections of the Element with newly available data, evaluated the results of various housing programs and policies, and developed new programs to respond to changing conditions and changing emphasis in State law.
All these changes or updates were highlighted in the document distributed and discussed at the joint Planning Commission I City Council study session on February 23, 2016.
One of the most important updates was the documentation that the City has sufficient land zoned with higher density zoning such that the City can provide its "fair share" of housing affordable to low and moderate income households (RHNA numbers).
Because of the City Zoning and General Plan, current designations within the existing City limits provide adequate capacity to meet the RIINA. This means that the Housing Element will not expand the residential capacity beyond what has already been planned for under current Zoning.
Another important point is that cities do not actually build or provide housing, but the Housing Element Update insures that the City is doing all it can to encourage and provide opportunities for the private and non-profit sectors to construct housing in the City.
City staff and consultants made concerted efforts to seek out and obtain comments, reactions, and suggestions on the Draft Housing Element. City staff received a variety of questions, comments and suggestions during the meetings, study sessions, and by letter. Based upon the comments received, the Draft Housing Element was revised.
On March 4, 2016, the Draft Element was submitted to the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for their required review and evaluation.
On March 21, 2016, City staff and consultants had a telephone conversation with representatives of HCD to further facilitate HCD’s review of the Draft Element. The Draft Element was further revised and modified per this telephone conversation with these further revisions and modifications being transmitted to HCD on April 19, 2016.
Most of the revisions and modifications incorporated into the Element since the joint study session were either data corrections or clarifications. Very few substantive changes were made to the policies or programs during this process. These efforts were successful because the City received a letter from HCD dated April 20, 2016, (enclosed) stating, "The draft element meets the statutory requirements of State housing element law. The element will comply with State housing element law (GC, Article 10.6) when adopted and submitted to the Department …"
During the time of the State HCD review, City staff and consultants prepared an Initial Study and proposed Negative Declaration per the requirements of State CEQA law. This Initial Study documented that the 2016 – 2024 Housing Element Update will not result in significant impacts to the environment.
It is important to note that the Housing Element Update proposes no annexations to accommodate new housing; it proposes no rezoning of land within the City to accommodate housing, but rather documents that the existing land within the City given its existing General Plan and Zoning can accommodate the housing required by the RHINA numbers.
Accordingly, the City intends to adopt a Negative Declaration, pursuant to Section 21080 (c) of the Public Resources Code. The Initial Study I Proposed Negative Declaration was distributed to the State Clearinghouse and other affected and interested parties, agencies, organizations and individuals for the required 30-day public review I comment period. This period started on May 2, 2016, and ended on June I, 2016.
By design, the Planning Commission’s May 24, 2016, Public Hearing on the Housing Element Update and its environmental documentation occurred before the close of the public review I comment period. This was to allow interested parties, the public, and the Commission itself to make any comments or suggestions that would be within the comment period and that could be addressed before the close of the environmental review period.
Members of the public spoke at the meeting to comment on the Housing Element. Most of these comments were a reiteration of comments made on the Public Review Draft Housing Element in February 2016, which staff subsequently revised to address public comments and are included in the current Public Hearing Draft before the Council. Many of the comments were questioning the City’s water supply to serve future development.
The Housing Element acknowledges the challenges facing Livingston in providing water to meet the RHINA numbers and staff responded to public comments by saying that the City will continue to monitor the water supply situation moving forward. Other comments question growth, suggesting that the Housing Element Update is a growth accommodating document and questioning the validity of the 1999 General Plan and its environmental document.
It is important to note, as stated above, that this Housing Element Update proposes no new residential areas for the City, but documents that the City can accommodate its fair share RHINA numbers via existing land at its existing zoning.
Staff is recommending additional discussion be added to the Environmental Setting and Discussion of Impacts regarding Greenhouse Gas Emissions and this is included in the Resolution approving the Negative Declaration.
Staff is also recommending in the Housing Element Update itself that Program 13 be modified to include procedures to give priority for sewer and water service for lower income housing units (consistent with new State law), and to include additional comment letters in Appendix A. These additions are referenced in the Resolution adopting the Housing Element Update.
GENERAL PLAN CONSISTENCY:
This proposed 2016 -2024 Housing Element Update is an amendment to the 1999 General Plan. The Initial Study documents that the Update is consistent with and compatible to the 1999 General Plan proposing no new residential areas and no new zoning.
The proposed 2016 -2024 Housing Element Update is subject to CEQA and as detailed above, City staff and consultants are recommending the Council adopt a Negative Declaration.
1. Resolution Approving the Negative Declaration (See Below)
2. Resolution Adopting the 2016 -2024 Housing Element Update (See Below)
3. Letter from State HCD dated April 20, 2016 (See Below)
5. 2016 -2024 Housing Element Update Public Hearing Draft
6. Public Comments Received
>- Betsy McGovern-Garcia, Self Help Enterprises, dated 3/17/16
>- Tom Dumas, California Department of Transportation, dated 5/11/16
>- Colette Alvernaz, dated 5/24/16
>- Colette Alvernaz, dated 5/26/16
>- Jean Okuye, Valley Land Alliance, dated 5/27/16
>- Breanne Ramos, Merced County Farm Bureau, dated 6/1/16
>- Jean Okuye, Valley Land Alliance, dated 6/1/16
>- Colette Alvernaz, dated 6/1/16
>- Marsha A. Burch, dated June 7, 2016
7. Livingston Housing Element -Response to Comments. (See Below)
RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF LIVINGSTON APPROVING A NEGATIVE DECLARATION FOR THE 2016 -2024 HOUSING ELEMENT UPDATE
WHEREAS, the Housing Element Update is subject to the California Environmental Quality Act, and an Initial Study and proposed Negative Declaration was prepared and circulated for public comment; and
WHEREAS, the Initial Study was revised June 15, 2016, with clarifying language to document that the project, the 2016 Housing Element Update, is a minor update to the 2009 Housing Element with no significant effects on the environment; and
WHEREAS, the City Council has considered any and all comments received during the public review process; and
WHEREAS, the City Council finds on the basis of the whole record before it that there is no substantial evidence that the Housing Element Update will have a significant effect on the environment and that the Negative Declaration reflects the Council’s independent judgment and analysis; and
WHEREAS, the Council specifies that the Planning Department shall be the location and custodian of the documents or other materials which constitute the proceedings upon which the Council’s decision is based; and
WHEREAS, the Housing Element Update proposes no changes to the 1999 General Plan nor does it propose any changes in the City’s existing Zoning both of which were subject to previous environmental review and approval; and
WHEREAS, the Planning Commission held a duly noticed public hearing on May 24, 2016, to consider the proposed Negative Declaration for the Housing Element Update and after giving due consideration of all public comments, recommended the Council approve this Negative Declaration; and
WHEREAS, the Initial Study is hereby amended to include a new paragraph 3 and 4 under Greenhouse Gas Emissions -Environmental Setting – as follows:
In August 2008, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SNAPCD) adopted the Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP). The CCAP required the development of guidance to assist Lead Agencies, project proponents, permit applicants, and interested parties in assessing and reducing project-specific contributions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and resulting cumulative impacts due to global change.
On December 17, 2009, the SNAPCD adopted the Guidance for Valley Land-use Agencies in Addressing GHG Emission Impacts for New Projects under CEQA. The guidance relies on the use of performance based standards, otherwise known as Best Performance Standards (BPS), to normalize the effects resulting from project-specific greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change during the environmental review process, as required by CEQA.
Use of the BPS method is designed to streamline the CEQA process for determining significance and is not a mandated emissions reduction program as promulgated by the SNAPCD. Projects for which the BPS method has been used can be determined to have less than cumulatively significant impacts related to climate change as supported by evidence documented by the SJVAPCD.
Otherwise, demonstration of a 29 percent reduction in GHG emissions as compared to future conditions under which the project is operated without GHG reduction methods (known as the Business-as-Usual, or BAU, baseline) is required to find that a project would contribute inconsiderably to cumulative global climate change conditions and the resulting impacts to the environment. The guidance does not limit a lead agency’s authority to establish its own process for determining the significance of impacts resulting from global climate change or the projects contribution to those impacts; and
WHEREAS, the Initial Study is hereby further amended to include under Greenhouse Gas Emissions – Discussion of Impacts -a new first sentence of paragraph 1 and substitution of the existing paragraph 2 with a new paragraph 2 as follows:
Adoption of the Housing Element will have no impact on GHG emissions.
GHG emissions related to future housing projects will be evaluated during the City’s standard environmental review process as required by CEQA using the BPS method promulgated by the SJVAPCD. Applicable measures will be incorporated into future projects, ensuring GHG emissions are reduced to levels that will not be considered cumulatively considerable in context of global climate change and resulting impacts.
Some projects may be required to identify a GHG emissions inventory using regulatory and industry standard methodologies and measures to reduce emissions by 29 percent from BAU levels. GHG reduction measures identified in the Guidance documentation are categorized bicycle/pedestrian/transit, parking, site design, mixed-use, building component, transportation demand, and miscellaneous, each addressing the various operational sources of GHG emissions generated by development. Incorporation of BPS will ensure compliance with the regional CCAP and by extension the targets identified in the State Scoping Plan for reduction of GHG emissions; and
WHEREAS, the City Council held a duly noticed public hearing on June 8, 2016, to consider the proposed Negative Declaration, which was continued to June 21, 2016, and gave due consideration to any and all comments received; and
WHEREAS, the City Council, exercising its own independent judgment, has reviewed all the material presented whether in writing or oral.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council approves a Negative Declaration for the 2016 -2024 Housing Element Update.
Passed and adopted this 21th day of June, 2016, by the following vote:
Rodrigo Espinoza, Mayor of the City of Livingston
I hereby certify that the foregoing resolution was regularly introduced, passed and adopted at a regular meeting of the City Council of the City of Livingston this 21th day of June, 2016
RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF LIVINGSTON ADOPTING THE 2016 -2024 HOUSING ELEMENT UPDATE
WHEREAS, the City of Livingston has prepared a 2016 -2024 Housing Element Update ("Housing Element") in accordance with California Government Code Section 65580 et seq.; and
WHEREAS, the Livingston City Council finds that the Housing Element addresses the City’s share of the regional housing needs as determined by the Merced County Association of Governments and the State of California; and
WHEREAS, the City Council has reviewed the Housing Element and finds that the document adequately addresses the City’s existing and future housing needs as identified in the document, contains a land inventory, identifies adequate sites to provide housing for all income levels, and otherwise contains all the detail, contents and analysis required within a housing element; and
WHEREAS, the City Council held a study session on February 23, 2016, to review and seek input and comments on the draft Housing Element from agencies, organizations, and individuals; and
WHEREAS, The City of Livingston submitted the draft Housing Element to the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for review and comment and HCD sent a letter dated April 20, 2016, stating in part, "The draft element meets the statutory requirements of State housing element law."; and
WHEREAS, the Planning Commission held a duly noticed public hearing on May 24, 2016, to consider the Housing Element and recommended the City Council adopt the 2016 -2024 Housing Element Update; and
WHEREAS, the City Council held a duly noticed public hearing on June 8, 2016, that was continued to June 21, 2016, and gave due consideration to all comments received; and
WHEREAS, a Negative Declaration was approved for the Housing Element Update; and
WHEREAS, the Housing Element Update Program 13 is amended to add a new last sentence as follows:
The City shall also adopt policies and procedures to provide priority sewer and water service for developments that include lower income housing units, consistent with State law (Government Code Section 65589.7); and
WHEREAS, Appendix A "Public Outreach Summary" is amended by inclusion of additional comments received: email from Betsy McGovern-Garcia, Self-Help Enterprises, dated 3/17/16; letter from Tom Dumas, California Department of Transportation, dated 5/11/16; letter from Colette Alvernaz dated 5/24/16; letter from Colette Alvernaz dated 5/26/16; letter from Jean Okuye dated 5/27/16; letter from Breanne Ramos, Merced County Farm Bureau, dated 6/1/16; letter from Jean Okuye, Valley Land Alliance, dated 6/1/16; packet of material from Colette Alvernaz date stamped 6/1/16; and letter from Marsha A. Burch, Attorney At Law, dated June 7, 2016; and
WHEREAS, the City Council has reviewed "Livingston Housing Element -Response to Comments" and given due consideration to the material presented.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED the City Council of the City of Livingston adopts the 2016 – 2024 Housing Element Update.
Passed and adopted this 21th day of June, 2016, by the following vote:
Rodrigo Espinoza, Mayor of the City of Livingston
I hereby certify that the foregoing resolution was regularly introduced, passed and adopted at a regular meeting of the City Council of the City of Livingston this 21st day of June, 2016.
Antonio Silva, City Clerk of the City of Livingston
Livingston Housing Element – Response to Comments
The City received the following comment letters on the environmental document for the 2016 Housing Element Update:
• Colette Alvernez (County resident) – May 24, 2016
• Merced County Farm Bureau -June 1,2016
• Jean Okuye (Valley Land Alliance) -June 1,2016
• Marsha A. Burch (Attorney) -June 7, 2016
The following is a general response to the comments made in these letters.
Improper Description of the Project as Accommodating Growth
The main issue with the comment letters is that they mischaracterize the project. Many of the comments assume that the "project" being analyzed in the environmental document is a growth accommodating project, and that is not true. The letters are discussing the impacts of adding more homes in the city.
The project is simply a minor update to the existing Housing Element. Adopting the Housing Element will not increase the amount of growth that can occur in Livingston. The growth that the letters are discussing is already allowed under the City’s current General Plan and Zoning. The Housing Element simply describes this existing capacity because the City is obligated by State law to show that it can accommodate the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) assigned to the City.
The City is not making a new projection of growth, and as described in the Housing Element and Initial Study, the City already has adequate capacity under the existing General Plan to accommodate the RHNA and therefore does not need to redesignate any land.
The 2016 Housing Element does not make any substantial changes to the existing 2009 Housing Element. It is a minor update to address the City’s new RHNA. The policies in the 2016 Housing Element are largely the same as those in the 2009 Housing Element, and the City has reviewed the implementation programs with the goal of reducing the number of programs to reflect available City resources while still complying with State law.
The Housing Element Update does not include any changes to land use designations, zoning, building heights and intensities, or residential densities. It simply describes the capacity that already exists under current zoning within the city limits.
Adopting the Housing Element does not in any way increase the capacity for new development in Livingston.
Staff has updated the project description in the initial study to clarify this point and stress that the project is a minor update to the existing Housing Element.
Tiering off GP EIR
The letters state that the Housing Element Negative Declaration is tiered off the General Plan EIR. This is not true. The Initial Study for the 2016 Housing Element Update references the General Plan EIR in saying that the Housing Element is part of the General Plan and is consistent with the General Plan.
As described above, the growth that can be accommodated on the sites identified in the Housing Element has already been analyzed in the General Plan EIR.
The Housing Element is relying on this analysis because it is not proposing any changes to the land use designations and therefore would not increase growth projections beyond what was already analyzed in the General Plan EIR.
Deferring Environmental Analysis
The comment letters claim that the environmental document for the 2016 Housing Element Update is deferring environmental analysis. This is not true. As described above and in the initial study, the General Plan EIR analyzed the broad growth implications and the Housing Element is consistent with those growth projections.
The initial study is simply explaining, for the reader’s benefit, that no entitlements are being granted with the adoption of this Housing Element, and there will be additional CEQA analysis required to assess project-specific impacts as the City processes entitlements.