2012-05-11 / Front Page
Ballot measure would give city new avenue to create affordable housing
State law requires city to meet housing goals, but budget cuts slash financing
Months after the official dissolution of Moorpark’s Redevelopment Agency, city officials are now looking for new ways to keep up with state requirements and provide more affordable housing in the community.
Last week the Moorpark City Council voted unanimously to call for an “Article 34 election” this fall in hopes of attaining the authority to develop low-rent housing in the city.
According to Article 34 of the California Constitution, a public agency cannot develop, construct or acquire a low-rent housing project without voter approval.
David Moe, the city’s redevelopment manager, said that if voters approve the measure in November, it would give the city the authority to build and maintain up to 200 new affordablehousing units in Moorpark in the next 10 years.
“This way we’d still have the ability to move forward and create affordable-housing units in the community,” Moe said.
California’s redevelopment agencies, including Moorpark’s, were eliminated as of Feb. 1, pursuant to Assembly Bill X1 26. Redevelopment agencies, which generated money through tax increments, were created in the 1950s as a means for cities to renovate blighted properties and fund affordable housing.
However, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed ABX1 26 last year in an effort to bridge the state’s $25.4-billion budget deficit and save about $1.7 billion in property taxes, which would have otherwise gone to funding redevelopment projects.
The new law left cities across California without a regular revenue source to continue redevelopment activities, such as providing affordable housing.
According to Moe, ABX1 26 left Moorpark with only two options for attaining affordable housing.
“The city can continue to require affordable housing units to be constructed in new housing projects,” he said. “Under this method, the developer would be required to develop a specified number of affordable housing units on a negotiated time line tied to the number of (market rate homes) completed.”
The second option, Moe said, is to partner with another organization like the Area Housing Authority of Ventura County.
This method was used last year to build Charles Street Terrace at 396 Charles St., a 20-unit apartment complex reserved for very-low- and low-income residents.
But despite the two options, city officials were concerned that losing redevelopment money would prevent Moorpark from meeting its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), a state plan that dictates local housing needs by projecting population growth.
The plan requires Moorpark to build about 1,200 new housing units by 2021. Of that number, 486 should be for affordable housing, according to a city staff report.
Moe said that gaining “Article 34 authority” would give the city an additional tool to develop affordable housing and ensure RHNA guidelines are met.
Councilmember Roseann Mikos said it would give Moorpark the “greatest flexibility” in terms of building affordable housing, just in case AHA is unable to partner with the city in the future.
“We have been acquiring land for the very purpose of doing this, and we will want to do some projects,” Mikos said. “We won’t necessarily want to do them all on our own, but we would not even be able to unless we got the voters to approve that we could do this.”
Councilmember Keith Millhouse also spoke in support of the measure.
“People have to recognize that under RHNA we are required to address future population needs, and if we do not do that, the state will do it for you— you’ll get punished,” Millhouse said. “It’s also done to avoid sticking all certain units of housing in one particular geographic jurisdiction.”
The City Council will consider a draft of the ballot question during its regular meeting on May 16.