First published in the June 30 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
The La Cañada Flintridge City Council provided stakeholders with its first update in nearly two months on its process of revising the housing element during a meeting Tuesday.
Mayor Pro Tem Keith Eich assured the community that city staff is “moving very fast and furious” to submit an acceptable document to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, or HCD, by the Oct. 15 deadline.
“A lot of work has been started and some of it has been completed,” Eich said.
Part of that work is informing the community of the process, and that began June 21 when the city posted an educational video on its website that explains the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, or RHNA, and the city plans to roll out more videos over the next few months.
LCF is currently tackling the sixth cycle of its housing element and must show that it can accommodate the state-mandated RHNA, which projects how many dwelling units are needed in the state and informs municipalities how many they should be ready to provide. The city was tasked by the Southern California Association of Governments with showing that it can allow for the development of 612 residential units — though that does not necessarily mean they would be built.
The city had submitted an updated housing element earlier this year and received feedback from the state, which informed LCF staff that its current standards constrain development and that it must show evidence that the sites listed on its inventory list could accommodate housing.
The City Council and Planning Commission held a lengthy joint meeting in early April to discuss the situation and made the decision to seek additional help. One month later, the council approved a $56,610 contract with Michael Baker International, a consulting firm tasked with evaluating development standards, zoning code, densities and the economic feasibility of developing under those circumstances.
Eich is hopeful that some of the findings from MBI will be presented as early as July 5 during a City Council meeting.
“We are anticipating a discussion next week during [the meeting] on density from some of the initial findings from MBI that suggest a minimum density needed to pencil out any projects,” Eich said. “So look for that coming next week, hopefully.”
Subcommittees consisting of city staff, council members and planning commissioners were created nearly three months ago to tackle specific portions of the housing element and have been meeting biweekly. Eich said the subcommittees will move to a weekly cadence “because of the time crunch.”
LCF officials hope to have a reasonable housing element published soon that would be available to stakeholders. It must be posted for two weeks before it can be approved by the City Council and submitted to the state for review. According to Eich, a revised document may be sent to HCD following a City Council meeting on Aug. 2.
The city then plays the waiting game, potentially for 60 days, as the state reviews the updated housing element and sends a response to LCF staff.
“We may get an answer at that point by Oct. 1 to finalize what we need to do by Oct. 15,” Eich said. “So you can imagine, that is a pretty tight timeline. We may potentially adopt it officially by Oct. 15 or do some emergency ordinances or do some other things to make sure that we meet the state guidelines at that point.”
For any updates or videos explaining the revisions to the housing element, visit cityoflcf.org.