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Questions re BMR Guidelines and Bonus Development on the agenda on Tuesday

From: domainremoved <Karen>
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2018 14:24:22 -0700

Dear Councilmembers and Staff,

I read the staff report for agenda item F1 regarding BMR ordinance and guidelines updates. I’m a member of the housing commission, but I am writing as myself.

1) I urge you to answer staff's priority questions so we can expeditiously implement out 15% BMR inclusionary requirement for rental units.

The first BMR related question is whether or not we should, in fact, implement 15% inclusionary zoning, and I urge you to say, absolutely yes!

I also urge you to set in-lieu fees based on actual equivalent construction costs. I think we all recognize that land is scarce, and land values are likely to continue to rise. Stanford University and Medical Center is here, and growing, Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies are here and growing, and the weather and culture will continue to attract people to our area. We should ensure that developers offset the forces of displacement by building inclusionary BMR units on site, or paying SUBSTANTIAL and SUFFICIENT fees to cover the cost to develop actual, equivalently located units.

Regarding how we set and communicate in-lieu fees, I heard loud and clear from developers and planning commissioners at a recent planning commission meeting that the most important thing to developers is clarity regarding fees. So, let’s charge high enough fees to cover actual cost of constructing equivalent BMR units, and let’s make the resulting fees clear up front, for developers. Perhaps each year a fee table for various sized rental units can be developed based on actual construction costs?

2) Staff also posed some questions regarding Bonus Development Public Benefit.
 Staff proposed a brilliant idea, which is to make it a threshold requirement for utilizing bonus level development that the developer agree to provide 15% affordable rental units on-site and not take advantage of the alternative means of compliance (such as payment of in-lieu fees). I hope that you will accept this strategic proposal!

Staff proposes changing the way the appraisal process for the public benefit and this seems like a non-controversial "housekeeping" suggestion. The "three step" appraisal process was designed to accommodate the way the city was guaranteeing that bonus developments would include 15% BMR before providing other public amenities.  That is no longer needed, so, we can return to a more straightforward process.
Staff asks if we should retain the preference for BH or recently displaced from BH residents as a requirement for bonus level development in the R-MU. I'm not sure why that is even a question. Perhaps I am missing something. I would welcome any insights on why this policy is being posed for review, and look forward to hearing from any of you.

3) General questions related to BMR Ordinance/Guidelines
Staff asks if the BMR Ordinance/Guidelines should allow for BMR units at all income levels in our RHNA, including moderate and above moderate incomes? I'm curious to hear different points of view on this question, but I think we should, as long as we don't lose the ability to develop the LOW and VERY LOW income units we need by doing so.
The staff report (top of page 8) states that in the R-MU zoning district, the priority for public amenities is affordable housing.  What is the priority for public amenities in the Downtown area?

Received on Mon Mar 12 2018 - 14:26:45 PDT

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