What if residents do not want to see more housing developed beyond the 988 units approved in 2016 in a future project?

Because of the current housing crisis, State law currently favors developers in order to boost housing construction across the State.  New State laws and modifications to existing laws that became effective in 2018 and 2019 make it increasingly difficult for cities to deny housing projects.  MGP’s new plan proposes a range of 1,200-1,500 units.  As a result, it’s likely the City will need to consider having  additional housing units on the property.  A summary of the new State laws, also known as “California’s 2017 Housing Package,” are summarized by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) at http://www.hcd.ca.gov/policy-research/lhp.shtml.  In 2019, the Governor and State legislature passed additional laws that will significantly impair a city’s ability to limit housing proposed for any site despite the objections of cities.    For example, the State enacted legislation known as SB 330 to prohibit cities from changing zoning regulations that would reduce housing density.    

Governor Newsom has set as a goal the need to have 3.5 million additional housing units built within the State by 2025.  On August 22, 2019, the cities and counties in Southern California were informed by the State to plan for over 1.3 million new housing units for a planning period covering October 2021 through October 2029 as part of a process known as the “Regional Housing Needs Assessment,” or RHNA   The RHNA process is governed by a regional planning agency known as the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).  The outcome of the RHNA process and the number of housing units each city in the SCAG region must plan for is approved by the State.  The state’s letter requiring SCAG to plan for 1.3 million new housing units can be accessed on SCAG’s website at:  http://scag.ca.gov/Documents/6thCycleRHNA_SCAGDetermination_08222019.pdf.  

Every city and county in the State is required by law to participate in the RHNA process which results in the adoption of a housing plan known as a Housing Element, which is part of every General Plan.  The City has been advised by SCAG that it should plan for 1,970 new units to meet its share of RHNA, which includes a requirement for the provision of “affordable housing.”  The City is able to rely on the approved 2016 Five Lagunas plan and the 988 units contained therein to meet a portion of the anticipated RHNA.  However, the approved 2016 plan does not include any units the City must include in its Housing Element to meet its “affordable housing” obligations.  The City is responsible for planning for 1,265 units of affordable housing in its next Housing Element (See FAQ 20 for a description of “affordable housing” as defined by State law).  Providing for housing opportunities in the Urban Village enables the City to preserve its well-established land use pattern in other areas of the community.

For additional information on RHNA:   http://www.scag.ca.gov/programs/Pages/Housing.aspx

For additional information on Housing Elements: http://hcd.ca.gov/community-development/housing-element/index.shtml

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1. Explain the current zoning, conditional use permits, and land use for the 68-acre property [Village at Laguna Hills] and adjacent developments. What can/can’t the City Council control?
2. What is the status of the plan MGP showed the community at their April 2019 Community Forum? How does it compare to the approved 2016 plan?
3. How much housing does the City’s Zoning Code allow on the property?
4. Does the City consider traffic in evaluating development proposals in the UVSP?
5. In 2016, the City approved over 926,000 sq. feet of retail and office building area and 988 dwelling units. If MGP is an established developer, why has Five Lagunas taken so long to get started?
6. What does the City Council see as a viable solution for the development of the site? When considering a new development, does and can the City Council factor in the greater good of the community?
7. How do the new and future proposed/approved Oakbrook apartments factor into any decision making?
8. What are current vacancy rates for existing apartment complexes?
9. Why doesn’t the City insist MGP provide more retail space and less office and housing space?
10. What creates the most value for the city and community: High-density multifamily housing, retail, or commercial office?
11. What kind of retail space can residents expect to see since the outlook for traditional storefronts is so negative?
12. How much revenue has the City lost from the mall closing?
13. How has the City responded to this loss of revenue?
14. How will property taxes benefit the city and how much will the city actually receive?
15. How does more development on the site, especially more residential development, impact community infrastructure such as police services, fire and paramedic services, traffic, water, schools, etc.?
16. What were the projected traffic levels for the originally approved Five Lagunas Project? What is the difference between retail development and apartment development with respect to traffic?
17. How will high-density apartments/multifamily housing benefit residents? Did the 09 General Plan call for 200 apartments w/ options to add more in future phases? Are the approved 988 units mandated
18. What if residents do not want to see more housing developed beyond the 988 units approved in 2016 in a future project?
19. Why doesn’t the City simply ignore State housing element law?
20. What is the City’s obligation to help address the Statewide/federal affordable housing shortage, including low-income and homeless shelters?
21. What exactly is the Housing Crisis Act (SB 330) and how does it impact the new project submitted by MGP?
22. What are the key steps involved in the entitlement process?
23. How long will it take for the project to reach the public hearing?