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ON THE AGENDA: PLANNING COMMISSION, July 18, 2023
More work syncing the City's housing code with the state of California's recent code changes addressing the housing crisis.
In an effort to address the housing crisis—which we see here in Twentynine Palms with the lack of affordable houses and apartments—for the last several years the state of California has implemented several measures that encourage increased housing density and subsidize affordable housing. Senate Bill 35, for example, streamlined the approval process for certain housing developments and required local governments to meet specific housing production goals.
The Planning Commission meeting on July 18 focuses on the many changes that are needed in the City’s housing development code to come into compliance with the changes the State of California has made over the past several years. Per City Manager Frank Luckino, “this will take several planning commission meetings for the planning commission to hear and absorb.”
What do you think about these changes? You have an opportunity to comment on these and planning issues important to you at every Planning Commission meeting. Please use the opportunity to question your Planning Commission members on the issues affecting our City. Because this meeting’s agenda is brief, it’s a great opportunity to use public comment to address concerns not on the list.
Public comments for all items are limited to three minutes per agenda item, but the public is entitled to fill out requests to speak on multiple items and may also speak during general public comments. To comment, pick up a green form at the desk, fill it out, and hand it to the Clerk who is usually sitting on at the desk at the front of room on the right side. The public can also send comments via email to Planning Commission members and the Community Development Director and request that comments be read at the meeting.
The entire agenda can be found on the city website. The link to the livestream of the meeting is available the day of the meeting.
Approval of the Planning Commission minutes for June 20, 2023.
ITEMS REMOVED FROM CONSENT CALENDAR FOR DISCUSSION / PUBLIC HEARINGS
2 and 3. Development Code Amendment (DCA) - Chapter 19.72 Density Bonus, Chapter 19.114 Community Care Facilities, Chapter 19.116 Emergency Shelters and Accessory Dwelling Units
What is a density bonus? It’s a provision within California's housing code that encourages the development of affordable housing by granting certain incentives to developers to address the state's housing shortage and promote the construction of more affordable units.
What kind of incentives?
Developers can receive permission to construct more housing units than would typically be allowed on the same property, determined by the percentage of affordable units included in the project.
The City may grant concessions and waivers requested to developers to facilitate the construction of affordable units. These concessions might involve relaxing of zoning regulations or design and development standards.
An expedited or streamlined approval process for projects that include affordable housing units, which accelerates the timeline for the construction of these developments.
City code changes also include updates to Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) requirements, as well as modifications to location standards for congregate care facilities such as nursing homes and parking requirements for emergency shelters.
The City’s staff’s initial study found no significant environmental impacts—but what about the California Environment Quality Act (CEQA)? How does our City balance density concerns with the area’s rural character, wildlife corridors, and the National Park buffer zone?
Development Code Update: Article 2
The zoning code update includes several programs:
Program HS-9 mandates the addition of Low-Barrier Navigation Centers in mixed-use and non-residential zones, providing shelter and services to homeless individuals. These centers are temporary shelters that help homeless individuals and families quickly obtain permanent housing.
Program HS-20 requires the inclusion of Employee Housing in the Development Code, along with defining what a “family” is and adding parking requirements for emergency shelters. This is a concern here, for example, with housing needed for national park and Marine base staff.
Program HS-21 amends the permitting process for multi-family projects in specific zones—projects with 50 units or fewer will be approved by staff, and projects with more than 50 units will be processed to the Planning Commission with a Site Plan Review. A concern we have is should projects be approved in the National Park Buffer Zone without public review? And what about the proposed limit on multistory structures that’s been discussed in Council?
DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS - NONE LISTED
Desert Trumpet writer Kat Talley-Jones is a member of the Public Arts Advisory Committee, which is a part of the City of Twentynine Palms.
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