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Planning Commission updated on state HCD requirements

Planning Commission Update

Every eight years the California State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) requires cities to file a housing plan that shows that all levels of housing needs will be met for the next eight years, and include all new housing requirements of the HCD.

The 5th Cycle Housing Element was filed in January of 2015. Cities within the state of California have been required to file a housing update every eight years, since the late 1960s, showing that they address housing needs for low, median and moderate incomes. A draft of the 6th Cycle Housing Element plan must be submitted by cities and counties to the HCD by Dec. 31. According to Development Services Director Jay Schlosser, any city or county that misses that date will be placed on a four year cycle.

To be sure that all new state requirements are met, the City of Tehachapi contracted with Lisa Wise Consulting (LWC) back in March. LWC specializes in strategies for community improvements. In June and July, LWC conducted two public workshops with the City Council and Planning Commission to discuss updates and provide feedback. Following the workshops, the city created a 240 page first draft which was submitted to the HCD on Dec. 4, well ahead of the deadline. The state has 90 days to review the document and ask for changes.

There were several new requirements that had to be addressed in the new plan. David Bergman of LWC went over the changes for the Tehachapi Planning Commission at their Dec. 11 meeting.

Housing site inventories are now required to show the availability and suitability of sites to accommodate the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) by income level and provide a more detailed analysis of possible constraints to development. These include any lack of infrastructure and any environmental and governmental constraints. Under the new regulations, cities are now required to develop programs and policies that encourage fair housing and address issues like segregation and discrimination, and then report their progress back to the state and the public. The City of Tehachapi also has to take into consideration, the inmate population at CCI as the prison is included in the demographics of the City of Tehachapi.

Schlosser told the Commission that many of the items required in the new plan, the city is already doing. Unlike many communities, Tehachapi does not need to rezone. Required items like energy efficiency, water conservation and green building are already incorporated in city codes. Schlosser said that the state wants to see the same type of units in all communities. Sort of a "one size fits all" mentality. This would include manufactured homes, multi-family units and mixes-used structures.

The state has estimated Tehachapi's RHNA for the next eight years to be about 900 living units. This number seems high but reflects the fact that the city did not reach its required housing goal in the 2015 cycle having added only 45 new homes of the nearly 500 required. Schlosser noted that with the new homes being built near Curry Street and Highline Road by K. Hovnanian and the addition of the Sage Ranch community, the city could reach the state's goal during this eight-year cycle.

The Tehachapi Planning Commission meets on the second Monday of the month at 6 p.m. at the Tehachapi Police Department Community Room located at 220 W. C St.