The city of Santa Clarita hosted a public workshop Thursday evening to share information about the housing element.
The element is one part of the city’s general plan and it allows “local governments (to) adequately plan to meet existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community,” according to Jerry Hittleman, a senior planner at Rincon Consultants, who led Thursday’s workshop.
Rincon Consultants and 4Leaf, also a consulting firm, are supporting the city in its housing element update, which is required under state law to occur every eight years.
The workshop was attended by 15 members of the public, who heard presentations about the housing element from city staff and consultants.
“The housing element establishes goals, policies and implementation measures to guide the development of housing in Santa Clarita into the future, identify sites that are zoned and available within the eight-year housing cycle to meet the city’s fair share of regional housing needs at all income levels,” Hittleman told listeners during the virtual workshop. “It also identifies city programs and policies, promote housing opportunities, including housing for special needs populations.”
James Chow, a senior planner for the city, was one of the city staffers present at the workshop. He told The Signal that public comments and questions concerned public outreach.
Library, schools and local nonprofits will receive flyers with information about the update, according to Chow. The city will also hold meetings with various stakeholder groups to solicit feedback.
An online survey is also available through June to provide the city with feedback on Santa Clarita’s housing needs.
Though no other public workshops are currently scheduled, Chow said the city plans to hold a study session with the Santa Clarita Planning Commission during its June 15 meeting.
Before the city staff present to the Planning Commission, they still need to go through “an extensive exercise to evaluate (the city’s) site inventory to accommodate the Regional Housing Needs Assessment.”
That assessment, also known as RHNA, allocated 10,031 new residential units over the next eight years to Santa Clarita to ensure it keeps up with anticipated growth.
“We will have to demonstrate that along with the approved projects, pending projects and other future potential projects that don’t fit either of those categories, a combination of all of those will result in a capacity that will be in excess of our allocation,” Chow said.
While Chow said he believes the city’s housing capacity will be in excess of its RHNA allocation, several new state laws will impact how the city counts its housing inventory.
“There are certain conditions associated with reusing prior sites,” Chow said of one law, noting that it may allow developers to build “by-right” — circumventing the usual public input process — at certain sites.
The city is scheduled to provide a first draft of its 2021-29 housing element to the state for review in October 2021. The Planning Commission and Santa Clarita City Council will need to approve the element before sending it to Sacramento.
City residents are invited to share their thoughts on the city housing needs at santa-clarita.com/housingelement, where they’ll find an email and phone number dedicated to the housing element and an online survey about the update.