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Belvedere will seek to adopt housing plan before state’s required review

Belvedere is planning to take a leap of faith on its blueprint to accommodate 160 new housing units in the next eight years, with the City Council next month expected to adopt the final draft before it gets reviewed by the state.

The Planning Commission on Dec. 14 voted 6-0 to recommend the council approve a draft that has now eliminated upzoning of The Boardwalk Shopping Center; reduced the buffer of total potential units; and added wish lists to host accessory-unit forums and incentivize unit creation, ban new single-family homes in multiunit zones, prevent displacement of existing residents and become a pro-housing community.

The city has been running significantly behind on creating its state-mandated 2023-2031 housing element and has been at risk of falling out of compliance, which is required by Jan. 31. If Belvedere misses its deadline, the city on Feb. 1 will be exposed to the builder’s remedy, in which anyone from homeowners to multiunit developers can bypass the city’s zoning laws with a project that has at least 20-percent low-income or entirely affordable housing.

Under the outlined procedure for getting the housing element approved by the state, a local government is to submit a draft to the California Department of Housing and Community Development for 90-day review, then implement any state feedback into a final element for approval and adoption, resubmitting that for final word from the state, which can take just a matter of days. However, a submission to the state in January means initial review likely won’t come back until April, leaving the city exposed to the builder’s remedy for at least two months.

Assistant City Attorney Ann Danforth told the Planning Commission last week they’re hoping to avoid this by having the council approve and adopt the housing element before Jan. 31, potentially at its next meeting Jan. 9, on hopes the state will ultimately find it in substantial compliance.

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