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Belvedere commission forwards 213-unit housing plan to council

Belvedere’s Planning Commission has signed off on the city’s eight-year housing plan, rezoning and environmental reviews, forwarding its approval recommendation to the City Council as the clock ticks toward a key Jan. 31 state deadline.

The council is scheduled to meet Jan. 16 and 22 to review, approve and adopt the documents to beat that rezoning deadline in the required two-vote process. The adopted plans will then be sent to the California Department of Housing and Community Development for 60-day review, meaning Belvedere likely won’t win formal state certification of its 2023-2031 housing element until at least April, though it’s rare to earn certification on a second attempt; just 60 of 109 Bay Area jurisdictions were considered in compliance at The Ark’s press deadline, six of 12 in Marin.

Belvedere’s push to complete rezoning is part of an effort to preserve a good-faith legal argument against the so-called builder’s remedy, though a recent court ruling indicates Belvedere is already vulnerable. Under the builder’s remedy, jurisdictions without compliant housing elements must approve 20%-affordable projects by right, and local zoning doesn’t apply. That could include the redevelopment of Mallard Pointe, where the owners of 22 units between the lagoon and City Hall have threatened to withdraw their 40-unit plan and seek 80-plus units if the project doesn’t win environmental-impact waivers and other fast-tracking.

Under state law, the city is required to identify sites for 160 new housing units in the next eight years to help meet California’s goal of 2.5 million new homes and, along with other Northern California jurisdictions, was required to produce a “substantially compliant” housing plan a year ago, on Jan. 31, 2023.

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