West Hollywood among few to comply with state affordable housing guidelines

As a result, developers there will not benefit from streamlined construction

Feb.February 05, 2018 12:00 PM
West Hollywood affordable complexes

Residential developers with projects in West Hollywood will have to get in line.

Because West Hollywood was among 13 jurisdictions in the state to meet its goal for sufficient affordable housing, developers will not benefit from a new state law that simplifies the government approval process, WeHoville reported.

As a result, those developers will still have to go through a tough negotiation with the city to build anything that varies from what the zoning laws permit. Projects will continue to go through the Planning Commission and City Council, requiring numerous associated costs — including attorneys fees — along the way.

A 2012-adopted study by the Regional Housing Needs Assessment determined West Hollywood needed 77 units to reach its target in each of four categories: very low-, low-, moderate- and above moderate-income residents. Approximately 322 such housing units were built by the end of 2016.

A combined 525 cities in the state failed to meet those guidelines, or did not submit the required progress reports. Developers who include affordable housing in their projects will be able to streamline construction.

While West Hollywood met the standards, affordable housing advocates claim the city is far from being actually affordable.

Roughly 40 percent of households in the area are considered “very low” and “low income,” meaning they earn less than $29,616 and $47,386 per year, according to the California Department of Finance. “Most new residential development in West Hollywood is out of reach to low and moderate wage households,” the city’s 2016 Housing Report reads.

But two pieces of legislation making their way through the City Council would benefit developers in the future. Both have not passed the full council, but progress is being made.

For the first, the Planning Commission approved a recommendation in that would allow city staffers to sign off on smaller projects without having to turn to the Commission for review.

For the second, officials gave the green light to a new “no net loss” rule, allowing developers to ditch the requirement to build at 90 percent of the lot’s capacity. That’s as long as developers don’t replace a building with fewer units. [WHV] – Natalie Hoberman

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