Saratoga council gives final approval on housing element zoning changes

The Saratoga City Council gave its final approval on a series of zoning code changes at its July 3 meeting, paving the way for the state to confirm that the city’s housing element is substantially compliant with state law.

The state’s department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) confirmed on May 21 that Saratoga’s plan for all housing to be built over the next eight years meets the statutory requirements of state law, but held back their final approval until the city clarified that it would allow for “non-discretionary review” for developments with 20% affordable units.

The council’s unanimous vote is the final stamp of approval needed to implement the state’s recommended changes, after the council last heard the item at its June 19 meeting. Their vote paves the way for the state to confirm that the plan, also known as a housing element, is substantially compliant with state law.

The city council submitted its fifth draft of the housing element to state officials in March, marking the end of a long road of revisions and community feedback on the document.

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“At that point, we do not know when HCD will provide a response and approval of our housing element, but (we were) informed by HCD that review will be timely,” community development director Bryan Swanson told this publication in June.

As the city awaits a final response from the state, it remains vulnerable to builder’s remedy applications. Builder’s remedy projects, like the recent proposed housing development in the city’s hillsides, are projects in which the developer invokes a provision of state law that allows them to build projects of any height and size in the absence of an approved housing element.

Saratoga will be the last city in the West Valley to receive final approval from the state on its housing element, as Los Gatos, Campbell, Cupertino and Monte Sereno all received approval within roughly the last year.

The council also voted unanimously on July 3 to approve the authorization of contracts with two consultancy groups to assist in the city’s second phase of the implementation of the housing element. Saratoga will contract with Urban Planning Partners for $67,060, and with Lisa Wise Consulting for $82,062.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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