Did the State really give a positive review of the Draft Housing Element?


At a recent neighborhood candidates event Councilmember Brian Dombrowski stated that the HCD's (California Department of Housing Community Development) verbal review of the Town's draft housing element was positive.  He went on to say that the element is really just a place holder and the Council is working on a better plan.

The staff report to the Council contains a summary of the verbal review.  The summary starts on page 2, under HCD Comment Call:

HCD doesn't believe that Woodside can up its ADU production and  has serious concerns about the practicality of using the sites selected by the Town, including legal restrictions and AFFH.  AFFH is the state's way of saying affordable housing should be integrated into the community, not stuck on the edges.

Significantly the Town doesn't think it will meet the January 31 deadline for completing the element but will need the 120 day grace period to get the analysis done.

After January 31 the Town will not have a housing element compliant with State requirements.  California’s Housing Accountability Act (HAA) provides a so-called builder’s remedy that allows developers of affordable housing projects to bypass the zoning code and general plan of cities that are out of compliance with the Housing Element Law.  The grace period does not apply here.

It is a shame that the Town wasn't working on its better plan earlier, rather than counting on the mountain lions to bail us out, then presenting the hail-Mary Shawkowski proposal to the state.

Given the huge job of evaluating and updating the Housing Element and the (well deserved) retirement of Planning Director Jackie Young I can't image a sane person wanting to be a  Council member!

At this same meeting Brian was asked why the Town removed the Hacienda Drive site for affordable housing but kept the Cañada Road site, even though the Hacienda site is far superior with regard to AFFH and the Cañada site is in the only Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone outside of the western hills <https://osfm.fire.ca.gov/media/5989/woodside.pdf>.  His response involved discussion of how the Town has control of affordability on Town owned sites, even though both the Cañada and Hacienda sites are both privately owned.  By the same owner no less!

Update 10/18/2022:
Here is the State's letter rejecting the Town's Housing Element.