Sunday, April 12, 2015

California wants your opinion on density bonus

From the Inbox (interesting that the City Council, despite its protestations about its hands being tied by the state, isn't encouraging residents to voice their opinions):
Many of you share the concerns with the way State density bonus law and regional housing assessments have been implemented throughout California. You now have an unprecedented opportunity to voice your concerns at the State level.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has a survey monkey link that invites input on housing planning requirements and practices. Below is HCD's link and introduction to the survey; the deadline for comments is April 17, 2015.

Survey link:

HCD desires input in identifying concerns/issues/recommendations regarding State housing law, specifically planning requirements and practices related to the Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) and Housing Element Update processes. At the below survey link, please rank topics and make suggestions for potential reforms. HCD has convened a 2015 Housing Working Group to discuss planning requirements and practices.

Please take the time to access the link above and complete the survey.  One of our residents who took the survey provided the following tips:

  •  For each topic there is a box for additional comments.  Use each of these boxes to insert your comments, even if your comments don't relate directly to the questions asked.  This is a chance to vent your frustrations and make suggestions for reforms
  • Don't press "Done" on each page until you have entered your comments in each box.  You won't be able to go back.

 Areas of Concern:
  • Not all cities interpret the density bonus law the same way (some round up and some round down on base density)
  • Housing allocations often use inflated population numbers
  • Drought conditions are not considered
  • Developers, not communities, are calling the shots in how laws are written and applied
  • Infrastructure for high density development is not being funded
  • In San Diego County over a 4-year period, the assigned RHNA numbers have produced only 4%-8% of the required affordable housing units.  92%-96% of the produced units are market rate.
  • Add any other areas of concern to you.


    1. Sounds like enough residents outside Encinitas are calling BS on the sham that is affordable housing if HCD is putting up this survey.

      Even if it is just for show, as our City's surveys tend to be, it belies what must be a growing pressure to stop the insanity.

    2. When you fill in the survey, please be certain to make a comment that the housing requirements should not over-ride the provisions of the Coastal Act. Each time they do this they attempt to say that the bonuses over-ride the resource protections of the Coastal Act, and want to be able to fill wetlands and remove sensitive habitat in order to allow the bonuses.

    3. Done.

      Key comments:

      • state law requires an analysis that demonstrates a proven track record of affordable unit creation to get credit for zoning other than the defaults. But they do not require any assessment of the track record of the default zoning (R30) in affordable unit creation. There is an unchallenged assumption in the law that default densities equate to affordable units. This assumption needs to be challenged. The actual effect of the law is to produce all of the downsides of density development (traffic, parking, views), without any material progress on the stated public good (affordable units, people closer to jobs, less traffic). Our local service sector workforce cannot afford upscale market-rate R30. So they will continue to commute long distances, sharing the roads with the new condo owners and the rest of us (traffic jams).

      • HCD insists on actual historical results to get credit for zones and programs expected to produce affordable units. Yet there is no corresponding historical check applied to the accuracy of growth projections. Each housing cycle should include an analysis of the predicted vs. actual growth in the previous cycle for every city, region, and statewide. The models and data sources should be corrected. Also, if the prediction last cycle was for 8% growth, and a city had actual growth of 4%, then half of the allocation from the previous cycle should be rolled forward and credited to the current cycle.

      • The smart growth principles encouraged by state housing law should be made more tangible and transparent. If citizens are being asked to accept more infill development to prevent sprawl, then each cycle should produce a regional package map that clearly illustrates the trade offs. For every acre of R30 infill near the coast, there should be 20 acres of rural land protected through purchase, rezoning, or other mechanisms. We should know what the recreational or habitat value of the protected lands are.

      1. Thanks, very helpful for my survey comments.

    4. No new housing for this desert until we start getting an average of over 18 inches of rain per year.

      1. Well that's an interesting position. Since San Diego's average rainfall is around 10.34 inches, I'd say, using your criteria, we won't have any new houses for quite awhile. For comparison, Phoenix gets around 8 inches per year and Tucson gets 11.3 annually. No city in Southern California not at higher elevations appear to get even close to 18 inches. Does this apply to new business construction as well since they use water too?

      2. Growth = Death

      3. Wow. So your ancestors moved here when there was an average precip of 18 inches annually? When was that, exactly? Is this new rule retroactive to whenever you moved here?

      4. 3:10
        Wow yourself!
        Why don't you keep your sarcastic comments to yourself and keep your facts straight?
        9:36 wrote "No new housing for this desert until we start getting an average of over 18 inches of rain per year. "

        9:36 that was a brilliant statement. Thanks

      5. 7:18 PM

        "9:36 that was a brilliant statement." I think you're referring to 9:26.

        As far as the brilliant part, I can only say that brilliant didn't enter my mind when I read it. How can you base a growth strategy on climate change? A good chunk of San Diego's growth comes from births. So your strategy is to make sure our kids have to leave the area unless they can find an existing unit to buy or rent. Maybe you're advocating extended families doubling and tripling up in existing houses.

        No, brilliant definitely didn't enter my mind. I'm sorry it entered yours.

      6. 8:07 A good chunk of San Diego's growth comes from Mexico and other people who have relocated here. In case you were not aware, the birth rate for the last six years has been in decline and continues to spiral downward.

        I see where "brilliant" did not even enter your mind. Might be wise to check your facts before making a statement.

      7. Yeah. It's those damned Mexicans using all the water on their giant lawns and water slides.

      8. 8:34 PM

        "Might be wise to check your facts before making a statement."

        From the State Dept. of Revenue Demographic Research Dec. 11, 2014 press release:

        "Birth rates continue to decline, especially the teen birth rate. Births less deaths, called natural increase, remain the primary source of the state’s population growth. The natural increase of
        243,000 is comprised of 497,000 births minus 254,000 deaths."

        It then shows the following for San Diego County:

        Pop as of July 1, 2013 3,176,770
        Pop as of July 1, 2014 3,212,298
        Increase 35,528
        Natural Increase (Births - Deaths) 24,083 (45,151 - 21,068)
        Net Migration (legal & illegal) 11,445

        I may not be brilliant but I do understand math and when the natural increase is responsible for 68% of the population growth in San Diego County, I'd say it was "a good chunk".

        So I'll just pass along the recommendation that it might be wise to check your facts before making a statement.

      9. 9:34 Nice information, but not complete. Below is the "big chunk" you are missing.

        The number of legal immigrants tends to fluctuate at approximately the same rate as the total population. Although California's birth rate and statewide emigration are both crucial factors influencing state population, immigration has made up an average 58% of the yearly increase in state population for the last twenty five years.

        While numerous temporary factors influence the rise and fall of California’s population, including birth and death rates, migration, cultural trends and environmental factors, the most important influences by far are economic.

        Immigration, both authorized and unauthorized, is a crucial driver of population growth on the West Coast. This includes migration to California from other states and other nations. The largest proportion of international immigrants to California, by far, come north from Mexico. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 38% of California’s population in 2013 was Hispanic, and this proportion has increased annually for the last twenty years.

        Just passing this information along to help you to dig further into what is contributing to the growth population in California. Bottom line word is ECONOMICS.

      10. I'm always suspicious when someone quotes without attribution. What are they hiding? In this case, the source directly contradicts what 11:47 is trying to say. Here's the conclusion to the report, and the spice link to see the information provided in the proper context.

        "DOF forecasts expect the entire population of California to increase by approximately five million people every decade through 2050, and some cities are likely to double in size if they alter land use and height restrictions and allow for population density to increase per square mile. While an increased population will pose new challenges in water management, energy and housing sectors, it will also be a source of new talent and new opportunities. No other state in the nation has the wealth, resources, entrepreneurial spirit and innovative history that enables California to maintain its distinctive appeal to the rest of the nation. As time passes, and more come to share in that success, the Golden State’s appeal can only be expected to grow."

        Double Snap.

      11. 11:47 AM

        If anything, during the Great Recession, California saw a definite out-migration as the economy went in the dumpster. It also saw a drop off of illegal immigration as opportunities here dried up for them as well. California has recently seen an uptick in the economy.

        I referenced the California Department of Revenue which provides the official demographic estimates for the state. It referred to the most recent population estimates, I saw no reference on your quote which makes me suspicious. Where did it come from and when was it published? Is it from the First Tuesday Journal website (a resource for California real estate professionals)?

        A lot of the Hispanic population increase is due to the higher birth rate among Hispanics, although it has been trending down as well.

        I agree economic factors influence population changes effecting the birth rate and migration but the high cost of living in California has been dampening domestic in-migration for a number of years.

        I'll stick with the State Demographers on this one. While immigration was a larger driving force of population increases in the past, it's not a large a factor now. I suppose that could change in the future if the economic factors improve greatly but for now it's the birth rate.

      12. From the First Tuesday Journal:


        In order to balance the situation and solve the shortage of housing, only option is to build more. There is no other magic to solve the problem. Liberalize the zoning rules and allow to build more housing units without compromising health and safety issues.

        - Babby Kurian, on California's residential rents top the charts"

        Nice source, 11:47.

      13. 12:35 PM

        I guess you work quicker than I do at 12:56 PM. Nice catch.

      14. 12:56 PM

        Correction: I meant Dept. of Finance not Revenue.

      15. 12:35 Triple Snap.

        Economics is what will be the factor. You just said it a different way. If we have a good economy in CA, people will move here increasing the population.

      16. We've had a bad job market and brutal cost of living for years. Net domestic migration has been consistently OUT of Calif. But at the same time, people are fleeing LA and OC to come to SD.

      17. 3:14 PM

        Economics will always play a role as well as demographics. I can't confirm this but I recently heard that the Millennial generation is larger than the Baby Boomers so as they begin to start families, even with one or two kids, the birth rate will jump as the Baby Boomers live longer. And the manufacturing that helped grow the middle class in California has greatly shrunk so there are fewer opportunities to move to California.

        There are a number of factors that play a role and each ebbs and flows in their influence. If in the future California again looks attractive economically then we may see a jump in in-migration both domestically and internationally.

        But bottom line we are going to continue to see a strong natural increase component to population growth.

        Getting back to the original idea that started this. Southern California has largely depended on imported water to reach the population it has now. When I see someone state (9:26 PM 4/13) that we shouldn't allow any new housing until San Diego has an average rainfall of 18 inches per year, it just means that person wants to stop any development. The mean annual rainfall in San Diego from 1850-2014 is just under 10 inches. So that kind of statement is not only unhelpful but not very realistic.

    5. I completed the survey. Thanks WC for calling attention to it. How else would anyone have known such a survey was being conducted?
      It was interesting to see the topics raised in the survey. Looks like there are a lot of aspects of HCD's RNHA strategy that are getting attention, at least to some degree. Maybe nothing will change, but the existence of the survey indicates the RNHA process is acknowledged to be a problem.

    6. The problem is not only the system but the quality of people who work in Encinitas Planning. The state would prefer an actual needs analysis based on Encinitas citizens, and while our city took money and spent it on research--including a Federal Grant and a SANDAG grant, the end product that they presented was so bad that citizens took matters into their own hands and wrote and passed Prop A. After wasting at least 2 million dollars and isolating Encinitas citizens, Planning has come back with the "proxy" proposal which is a type of Plan B. Why did they have to waste all of our money in the first place?

      Remember that because of Prop A, we have the ability to vote down what they come up with. I'm calling on all voters to strike down the plan in 2016!

      1. Just remember a judge can nullify Prop A if it prevents the city from fulfilling a state requirement. Just ask the city of Pleasanton. But you go on believing the Encinitas is immune to state requirements.

      2. Gosh, you sound downight hopeful, 1:01. You even sound like Kranz, with his "nullify" language on the Specific Plans. Snore.

      3. If the voters nullify the city's mass-upzoning plan, there would be a range of options for future councils or even judges. It's not the city's plan or nothing. Maybe a judge recommends a plan that produces real low-income housing without all the unnecessary vacation rental condos.

      4. And that'd be a plan that a lot of the current plan's opposers could get behind. Voters smell a rat with the current stinker. The plan the city's selling now is a patent gimme to developers with nothing affordable about it...and it's obvious.

      5. 5:40 PM Wake up! I'm not hopeful just realistic.

        5:50 PM I doubt very much a judge will be hands on. More like directing that the city get a certified housing element by a certain date. The judge might direct the city to work with the plaintiff to agree on an acceptable housing element. The judge might suspend all development processing until it's completed but that would be drastic initially. The judge would also either suspend or nullify Prop A to speed things along.

        And if you think I'm making this up, see what happened to other cities.

      6. Yes, let's look at what happened to other cities.

        Malibu has been cited. Here's what happened there:

        “This will require the City to reopen the Housing Element process, hold additional public hearings and make amendments to the City’s law before readopting. The City of Malibu currently has no dedicated low income housing units,”

        Hardly the end of the world.

      7. 7:42 AM

        Yes, a suit by a developer who was pissed that the city didn't select his property as one of the potential affordable sites in an approved housing element now the city has to go back and find replacements for the maid quarters of rich homeowners that were passed of as affordable housing. I see the parallel.

    7. Or more likely Shaffer, who glommed onto that one-off suit like she'd just discovered fire. Shaffer's hidden agenda of packed-sardine living "sustainabilty" would never had gotten elected had she been up front about her beliefs when on the campaign trail.