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Belvedere to upzone to meet state housing demand

Belvedere officials concede they’ll have to rezone The Boardwalk shopping center to win California’s blessing on their roadmap for new housing, a significant revision that’s forcing the city to switch consultants in hopes of meeting the state’s final deadline in January.

Though six months away, the window is narrow. Allowing higher densities at the downtown shopping center, and possibly other sites, will have a ripple effect, as rezoning to ensure a total of least 160 new units can be built over the next eight years could trigger the need for a costly and time-consuming environmental-impact report. Belvedere’s strategy to date had been to avoid both.

Now if the city doesn’t complete the rezoning by Jan. 31, 2024, it could again face the punitive builder’s remedy — in which local zoning doesn’t apply and certain affordable housing must be allowed by right — as well as lawsuits from the attorney general’s office, fines and court fees, loss of permitting authority and court receivership.

The City Council voted 4-0, with Peter Mark absent, at its July 11 meeting to hire Oakland-based Dyett & Bhatia Urban and Regional Planners to revise the city’s 2023-2031 housing element in response to state feedback.

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