By Jane Northrop
The Housing Element is part of the general plan and it needs to be updated every eight years. It provides an analysis about Pacifica’s needs for housing at all income levels, including affordable housing.
Pacifica’s Housing Element for 2015-2023 identified 27 potential housing development sites in existing commercial and mixed use sites in Manor and Sharp Park, Rockaway, along Fassler Avenue and at the Sanchez Library site.
Regionally, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) developed a method for figuring out how much housing is needed at what income level. That is expected to be ready by September 2021 for the next eight year cycle from 2023-2031, said Tina Wehrmeister, director of planning.
“We don’t know how big our number will be,” she said.
Commission Chair John Nibbelin reacted to the uncertainty that remains about how many housing units the region may have to accommodate. Right now that total number is 413 at four different income levels.
“This is a very high number. How many are prepared to move in here short term and long term? We should maybe adjust,” he said.
Planning staff anticipates starting to prepare in the first half of 2021 to make sure all potential sites for housing are inventoried.
One of the sites named as a potential place for housing is the lot where the former Spanky’s Restaurant operated. There is a motel project approved for that site, but if it falls through, it could potentially be used for housing in a new use, Wehrneister said.
“We are being higher density friendly,” said Commissioner Lauren Berman. “A lot of the identified lots are in Sharp Park. Those are small lots.”
“We have incorporated more designations for more than 35 units,” said Senior Planner Christian Murdock. “But we can’t change the existing parcel pattern. We could try incentives for a better assortment over time. “
The state approved a grant for Pacifica to cover the cost of the Housing Element update, including site inventory work.
New state laws require sites smaller than one half acre and bigger than 10 acres are presumed unacceptable for lower-income households. Wehrmeister said with Pacifica’s small sites that may be significant.
In other new regulations, vacant sites cannot be included in the site inventory if they have been identified in the past two Housing Element periods, unless they are rezoned. For the minimum lower income household density, which is 30 units per acre for Pacifica, at least 20 percent of the units must be affordable to lower-income households. Non-vacant sites must be analyzed for its past use and current market demand. If sites contain residences for lower-income households, that must be replaced one to one. City zoning codes may have to be re-evaluated.
(Jane Northrop can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)