For the second time this year, state officials told Gilroy that its long-term housing plan still needs work before it can be considered valid.
In a July 6 letter to city officials, Paul McDougall, senior program manager for the California Department of Housing and Community Development, wrote that, while Gilroy’s Housing Element “addresses most statutory requirements,” “additional revisions are necessary to substantially comply with State Housing Element Law.”
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, after more than a year of public meetings. 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 his letter, McDougall wrote that Gilroy needs to assist in the development of housing for those with extremely low, very low, low and moderate incomes.
“The Program should go beyond forwarding information about surplus City-owned land to potential partners and developers,” he wrote. “For example, the element could commit to proactive actions to coordinate with nonprofit developers, employers and other related organizations, to explore funding and incentives and to identify specific development opportunities.”
Among the other revisions, McDougall said the city must describe how the city is complying with state and federal fair housing laws, and mention any previous legal matters.
Gilroy is far from alone. According to state records, 212 jurisdictions have housing elements that are out of compliance, including Morgan Hill.
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.
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 spokesperson Rachelle Bedell said the city recently received two preliminary housing applications that cite the use of the “builder’s remedy.” The locations and size of the early proposals were unknown as of press time.
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, she said.
A revised draft of the Housing Element is planned to be available for public review and city council consideration in August.
“The City of Gilroy is committed to providing increased access to housing,” Community Development Director Sharon Goei said. “This commitment extends to the City’s Housing Element, which outlines the City’s goals, policies and implementation programs to address existing and future housing needs. The City is committed to continuing to work with the state Housing and Community Development Department on updates to the Housing Element that will fulfill the state’s requirements for the plan.”
For information on the Housing Element update, visit cityofgilroy.org/907/Housing-Element-Update.