The San Ramon City Council and Planning Commission are set for a special joint meeting this Tuesday in which they will discuss the most recent draft Housing Element update, following a review and feedback period aimed at engaging local community members.
A certified Housing Element is one of the required components of a jurisdiction's General Plan, and is required to be updated every eight years. The updates are meant to reflect appropriate planning for current and projected housing needs.
As part of this requirement, San Ramon officials have been tasked with accommodating an additional 5,111 housing units under the state's Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), which is assigned and overseen locally by the executive board of the Association of Bay Area Governments. The allocation is based on projected needs in the 2023 to 2031 cycle.
San Ramon is required to adopt a certified Housing Element that allows for the development of the 5,111 additional units by January.
The city's RHNA number breaks down to a requirement to allow for the development of 1,497 "very low income" units, 862 "low income" units, 767 "moderate income" units, and 1,985 "above moderate income" units.
San Ramon officials released the first Housing Element update for the upcoming cycle last summer, along with the General Plan and Climate Action Plan updates, followed by a total of six study sessions and community workshops on the matter, and discussions with nine of the city's committees and commissions. Information was posted on the city's website last September, along with a separate website dedicated to information and updates on the Housing Element update process.
Outreach efforts continued with an online survey in October, followed by additional community engagement events that are set to continue through this summer, and a public review and feedback period of the latest update to the draft Housing Element from May 13 to June 12.
"The workshops, study sessions, and committee meetings provided an overview of the Housing Element, RHNA, Preliminary Sites Inventory, required policy and program topics, and provided an opportunity for the community to provide feedback," the staff report prepared for Tuesday's meeting said.
"The community was notified of these engagement opportunities through the City's social media, websites, push notifications, newsletters, the community reader board, and email," the report continued. "Additionally, Staff held stakeholder interview meetings with the property owners, housing groups, and community groups to seek input on the Housing Element Update."
Most recently, the Housing Element update was the subject of a public hearing during a joint meeting on May 17.
Feedback from the community included calls for reducing environmental impacts and greenhouse gasses, and emphases on the challenge posed to low and moderate income residents by the current lack of affordable housing in the city.
"Not everyone who lives here is a CEO," said Cheryl Daniels in a written comment submitted to city officials. "And the places that hire around here don't pay enough to live here. I feel like it's segregation in a different form. It really feels like the city of San Ramon doesn't want me here"
Although Daniels' sentiment was reflected in several other comments from residents, others instead raised concerns about overdevelopment in the city, without a balance of services and recreation options to sustain a growing population.
"I have lived in San Ramon since 1972 at age 5," Christina Toy told city officials. "I have watched the growth of this town into a City. It scares me to see all the continued building of houses in this city. We already lost the Nob Hill Grocery Store to more housing and now more homes are going up in the middle of Bishop Ranch. Soon, we will only have houses and nowhere to buy our groceries. It makes me sad to see this suburb become such a large city with the main focus on houses."
The next step for city officials following Tuesday's meeting is to submit the draft Housing Element update to the state's Department of Housing and Community Development for certification, ahead of the January deadline. An ad-hoc committee on mixed use zoning is set to provide additional feedback on the draft update before next steps.
The special joint meeting is scheduled for Tuesday (June 21) at 6 p.m. The agenda is available here.