City of Mountain View staff plan to submit their second draft of the Housing Element — a once-in-eight-year process where cities prove they will be able to meet the housing goals mandated by state – by the end of this week.

At a November 16 meeting, the Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) heard updates on what’s new in the second draft and how staff expect the rest of the process to housing element unfolds.

Senior Planner Ellen Yau said the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), which leads the housing component approval process, has recommended that cities submit revised plans before adopting and submitting their plans. final housing elements. This gives jurisdictions a chance to have a conversation with HCD about what needs to change, rather than having to change an already adopted, non-compliant housing element.

The other parts of the Housing Element project, such as the rezonings the city is undertaking in order to meet its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) – the number of new homes cities must build over the next eight years, set by the state – and the environmental impact report for the housing element will be presented at a separate public meeting, Yau said.

“After the last round of study sessions with EPC and the board, which took place in May and June, we revised the draft and submitted it to HCD for a 90-day review,” Yau said. “So they sent us feedback on September 29, and since then we have met with the HCD reviewers on several occasions to review the feedback we received.”

In this September 29 letter from HCD, the department identified some issues the city needs to address. Most of the comments made by HCD in the letter and subsequent meetings with staff related to adding specificity, data analysis, timelines and action items to the housing element, Yau said.

“They wanted more information about how our needs and constraints relate to housing programs, and how the programs respond to public feedback and overall housing needs,” she said. . “And then they wanted additional information for each of these programs regarding timing and metrics.”

Here are some of the key changes the staff made to the project in response to HCD’s feedback, and what will happen next.

Site inventory

The state asked the city to add information and clarification on the redevelopment of previously developed sites that still have the potential to become housing within the next eight years. The new draft includes some specific changes to the site inventory, the list of potential sites where cities believe housing will be built over the next eight years, as required by the element of lodging.

Some of these newly added sites include 1250 Grant Road, a supermarket site currently occupied by Nob Hill Foods, and 1500 North Shoreline Boulevard where Century Cinema is located.

“We also updated the site inventory based on newly submitted nominations,” Yau said. “Based on advice from HCD, we have also included some projects that are under construction, but have not received their final certificate of occupancy at the start of the planning period, which was June 30 this year. “

But staff have taken a more conservative approach in other project changes, such as reducing the estimated residential capacity for sites that are currently shopping malls, “to account for their lower likelihood of redevelopment, particularly considering given state guidelines that multi-tenant centers can be a constraint on redevelopment,” the housing element project states.

While Mountain View is slated to build 11,135 units over the next eight years, the latest draft puts the city’s capacity at 17,779, an increase of approximately 2,000 units from the first draft. However, staff attributed the increase largely to “the addition of already approved projects” to the site inventory, Yau said.

Positively promote fair housing

HCD also asked Mountain View for more analysis and data on the location of low-income units the city intends to build. As part of the housing element process, jurisdictions are required to show that future developments positively promote fair housing by increasing the number of affordable units and ensuring that housing is in well-established areas. resourced – parts of the city close to shopping malls, good schools, public transport, parks and other public amenities.

Yau said staff looked at four main areas to see if the affordable housing on offer was fairly distributed: income, opportunity, education, race and ethnicity.

“Data analysis shows that the city’s housing component does not concentrate new low-income housing in low-resource or segregated neighborhoods,” Yau said.

On the contrary, she continued, the sites that are included in the inventory of sites are located in areas where households generally have higher incomes, in areas with higher resources and in areas with high education scores.

Yau mentioned that the analysis excluded the North Bayshore census tract because it is something of an outlier: although it is identified as a low-resource area, city maps for the region “will improve overall access to opportunities for residents”.


In addition to creating an inventory of sites, cities must also provide HCD with the constraints they face that make housing construction more difficult – such as zoning that makes residential development difficult, for example. For each constraint identified, cities must propose a corresponding program to mitigate the problem.

“Overall, HCD has requested specific measures and targets and timelines attached to actions for all programs,” Yau said. “So what we did was we completely reformatted the housing plan to accommodate all of those details. … In doing so, we also created an implementation timeline (which) highlights how we will implement the proposed programs.

Some of these programs include reducing parking requirements for affordable housing, creating an incentive program for the development of ADUs (accessory housing), and partnering with employers to address the job-housing imbalance in the town.

HCD has also asked the city to provide specific, concrete actions it will take to achieve these proposed programs.

“These action items add specific programming, such as adding live work opportunities, updating our impact fees (and) adding steps to improve the development of affordable housing in our funding availability notice process,” the process by which the city allocates funds to affordable housing developers, Yau said.

Next steps

Yau said the final housing element project will be submitted to HCD by the end of the week, so by November 18. This will be followed by a 60-day review period, during which “HCD said they would work with us to make minor revisions,” Yau said.

The rezonings associated with the housing element and the environmental impact report will be presented to the Environmental Planning Commission on December 7, then to the city council on January 24.

“Then, based on HCD’s determination of our project and the inputs we get from city sessions, beginning tonight and in December from council, we anticipate (an) adoption hearing in early 2023” , Yau said.

Every city and county in the Bay Area must update its current housing element to meet state requirements by January 31, 2023.

At the November 16 meeting, Commissioners were generally supportive of the changes that staff had made to the second draft of the housing component.

A few commissioners have suggested favoring a higher density to ensure the housing element meets state requirements when it is passed by city council early next year. Cities that fail to meet the requirements may have to deal with Builder’s Remedy, a stipulation of the Housing Responsibility Act of 1990 that allows developers to circumvent a municipality’s zoning laws if that city does not is not consistent with California’s housing development goals.

“Quite frankly, this is the housing element that I would have liked to see in the first round,” Commission Chairman William Cranston said of the project. “The level of detail, the specificity – I’m happy with what’s there.”