After two years of meetings and being twice rejected by the state, Gilroy’s eight-year housing program was certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development on Aug. 21.
In a letter to Community Development Director Sharon Goei, HCD Senior Program Manager Paul McDougall wrote that Gilroy’s 2023-2031 Housing Element is “in substantial compliance with State Housing Element Law.”
“HCD appreciates the effort and cooperation the City’s housing element team provided throughout the housing element review and update,” he wrote. “HCD wishes the City success in implementing its housing element and looks forward to following its progress through the General Plan annual progress reports pursuant to Government Code section 65400.”
The Housing Element, required to be updated every eight years, lays out how the city will facilitate the building of at least 1,773 new residential units that are needed in Gilroy from now through 2031, as determined by the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation process.
In October 2022, the city submitted its draft document to the state for review. However, it received a letter on Jan. 27 from Paul McDougall of the HCD, stating it needs to dive deeper in various aspects of its housing policies.
The city council approved the further revisions in May, and the document was sent to the state for its review.
In a July 6 letter in response to the revised draft, McDougall wrote that Gilroy needs to assist in the development of housing for those with extremely low, very low, low and moderate incomes, among other revisions.
As of Aug. 23, 198 jurisdictions in the state were out of compliance with their housing elements, according to state records. Gilroy is the fifth jurisdiction in Santa Clara County to be certified, according to Goei.
At the beginning of the Gilroy City Council’s Aug. 21 meeting, Goei announced the state’s certification, thanking everyone involved in the work, including Project Manager Cindy McCormick, the council and planning commission, as well as the “many community members who completed surveys, participated in focus group meetings, and attended in-person and virtual outreach meetings to give us input.”
Cities that do not have an approved Housing Element from the state face a number of implications, such as risking funding from several federal and state programs.
“With a compliant housing element, the City now meets housing element requirements for these and other funding sources,” McDougall wrote in his letter.
Non-compliant cities are also subject to a clause known as the “builder’s remedy,” where jurisdictions cannot reject housing developments if they go against local zoning code.
Gilroy has received two preliminary development applications that reference the builder’s remedy.
According to public records, the applications are for 113 single-family homes at 2740 and 2480 Hecker Pass Road, and for 504 multi-family units at 315 Las Animas Ave.
If the preliminary application is deemed complete, the developer has 180 days to submit a formal application before it expires. Detailed review of the proposal only takes place after a formal application is submitted.