January 17, 2006 > Housing in Fremont
Housing in Fremont
A brief interview with Jeff Schwob, Fremont Planning Director
TCV: Now that Fremont has received notification from the state that it has satisfied housing goals, what happens now?
Schwob: The next phase is implementation; reviewing projects coming in which depends on the [housing] market. We continuously monitor how we are doing and submit an annual report to the Planning Commission in August and the City Council in September. The report has to be filed with the state by October 1st. This is a state requirement which was reiterated in the certification of our housing element. At this point, it has been acknowledged that we have done the things we said we were going to do - rezoning land to make it available for development. Now it is up to the marketplace to bring projects forward so we can achieve the goals.
We are now working on the condominium conversion ordinance which did not come up in the Housing Element, but we see as an emerging issue. An inclusionary [affordable housing] requirement is being considered as part of this ordinance.
TCV: When will that ordinance be ready for discussion?
Schwob: I believe it will probably be brought to the council in March or April.
TCV: Will there be any change in density or infill development now that the housing element has satisfied state requirements?
Schwob: For sites previously rezoned, densities will remain as approved. However, for new applications with proposals of lower density or changes from non-housing use to housing, we will continue using the criteria of, 'Does it fit the surrounding community?' This needs to be balanced with other city objectives including a good financial base of commercial and industrial uses. We also know that there will be another allocation of [housing] need in 2007 or thereafter; of how many affordable and market rate residential units we need to plan for during the next planning horizon.
State law has now changed for cities with a population of over 25,000 in an urban area. If you zone for 30 or more units to an acre and can use those properties to meet 'low' and 'very low' income need, the state will allow these for the housing element without question. For communities with a population of less than 25,000 or in rural areas, there is a 20 unit per acre threshold. So, if someone comes to us and proposes 30 or more units to an acre, it will be well received because it meets a need. On the other hand, low density development will not yield many inclusionary units and may remove commercial land from inventory, so it will be weighed differently. Obviously, we cannot zone everything for 30 units to the acre.