At the final Council meeting of 2013 we showed that there is a different set of priorities and values on the Council and it makes a difference for the community. Specifically, I am pleased that we used our authority to increase the fees that a developer must pay in lieu of building affordable housing units. Our fee now more accurately reflects the cost of actually providing that housing somewhere else. In the past, staff used the price of condominium sales to calculate the "in lieu" fee. However, the City's inclusionary housing ordinance says a developer must build a 3-bedroom, 1500 square foot home or pay the in lieu fee. The City was using a composite of condo sales of all sizes, including studios and one-bedroom units. When they looked at more recent sales of units of equivalent size to the mandated homes, the fee went from about $178,000 to $319,000. If we used past sales of actual detached homes, which is what the fee is in lieu of, the calculation results in a fee of over $400,000. While I hope we will move to the higher calculation, or perhaps eliminate the in lieu option altogether, I thought it was unfair to make that change all in one leap, and proposed a middle ground. The Council supported my motion to set the fee at $319,000 by a vote of 4-1 with Councilmember Gaspar voting no.So it sounds as if the "in lieu" fees are purely at the discretion of the council, and their existence as a cheap option for developers is a deliberate incentive that past councils have created to encourage maximum use of the density bonus. How many recent bad developments would have been different if developers had to give up valuable real estate to get the density bonus rather than paying a token fee? If this council wants to demonstrate a difference from the Stocks/Bond/Dalager council, this looks like an excellent opportunity to do so.
Friday, December 20, 2013
A first step on density bonus
From Lisa Shaffer's latest newsletter: