The Gilroy City Council agreed on Monday to send its eight-year housing plan to the state for its approval, but only after a few tweaks are made.
While the council was unanimous in its decision to send the 2023-31 Housing Element to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), Councilmember Zach Hilton was the lone dissenting vote when considering modifications to Accessory Dwelling Units and other rules. Councilmember Rebeca Armendariz was absent.
The long-term planning document, 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, after more than a year of public meetings and deliberations. 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.
Gilroy Customer Service Manager Cindy McCormick said that under the required changes, officials added language in the Housing Element that would direct the city to conform its ADU policies to state law, and allow the structures to increase from a maximum of 1,000 square feet to 1,200 square feet to incentivize developers.
But Mayor Marie Blankley said such an increase in square footage would only benefit the homeowner, as they could charge more for rent and make such units unaffordable. She added that two working people would likely need to live in the larger ADU in order to afford rent, thus adding to the number of vehicles parked on the street.
“It’s not true in Gilroy that you can get to your job without a car,” she said. “In Gilroy, we need a car.”
“All you have to do is look at our streets and see that they are overcrowded,” she said. “This is going to add to it.”
Also added to the draft Housing Element was a program that allows for triplexes and fourplexes on corner lots in certain residential areas throughout the city in order to accommodate what is referred to as “missing middle housing.” According to McCormick, that could apply to 429 lots that meet the 8,000-square-foot requirement, or if the square footage was reduced to 6,000, it could increase to 1,029 lots.
Terence Fugazzi of Gilroy said the program “creates a fast track that would allow demolishing perfectly good single family homes.”
“Most people in this city, if they knew this was going on, they wouldn’t want it happening,” he said. “We would be destroying homes to build fourplexes where they don’t belong.”
Under modifications proposed by Marques and Blankley, the “missing middle” program would only apply to the 429 lots, and those that were subdivided before May 1. ADUs would also have a 1,000-square-foot maximum.
The amendments passed 5-1, with Hilton voting against it.
“I just want to caution everybody that the object of this is to not create more barriers to housing,” he said, adding that limiting the ADU square footage based on parking was “not going to work with HCD.”
The revised draft will be sent to the HCD on May 8, which has 60 days to review it.