Officials with the town of Danville have published the current draft of the environmental impact report as the latest step in the town's engagement efforts around an upcoming update to its state-mandated housing plan.
Danville, along with the rest of the Bay Area, is required to complete the latest update to the Housing Element of the town's General Plan by the end of January, in order to meet its Regional Housing Needs Allocation numbers.
"In order to meet the 2023-2031 (RHNA) allocation and provide sufficient capacity for housing development, the Housing Element identifies sites to provide for additional residential development and to increase allowed residential densities on existing residential sites to meet affordability requirements," officials said in the draft report released Sept. 13.
The public review period for the draft EIR is the latest phase of the Housing Element update. While an EIR is a necessary part of the process, it's not the only part.
"The basic requirements for an EIR include discussions of the environmental setting, significant environmental impacts including growth-inducing impacts, cumulative impacts, mitigation measures, and alternatives," officials said in the report. "It is not the intent of an EIR to recommend either approval or denial of a project."
The release of draft EIR this week marks the beginning of the 45-day public review period of the document. A final EIR will be prepared after the review period. Public hearings with the Planning Commission are set for later in the fall, followed by public hearings with the Town Council ahead of the January deadline.
With the EIR being one part of the latest update, the Housing Element is itself a component of the town's General Plan, which has been a requirement from the state since 1969.
"Among other requirements, Housing Elements must identify, analyze, and make adequate provision for the existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community," Danville officials said in the report. "California's housing-element law acknowledges that, in order for the private market to adequately address the housing needs and demand of Californians, local governments must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for housing development."
The Housing Element currently in effect was approved in 2015, with the update set to encompass 2023 to 2030.
With the latest Housing Element update process coming in the wake of Senate Bill 330, which aims to address the state's housing shortfall, the 2,241 new housing units that the town is tasked with accommodating are required to be incorporated.
As part of the update process, the new Housing Element includes sites identified for increased density in order to help meet RHNA requirements.
The draft EIR includes a list of projects in the planning process that are aimed at helping to meet housing needs. Several housing projects are already complete or under construction, with the exception of a senior housing project on West El Pintado and a proposed townhouse development at the Borel property on Fostoria Way. The former was approved, with construction not having yet commenced, while the latter has a pending application.
While Danville's agricultural roots are mostly in the past, the Borel property is noted in the draft report as having been classified as "unique farmland" in past updates, but no longer qualifies.
"The site has not been actively farmed since at least 2009 and thus, based on both the definition of Unique Farmland as 'land must have been cropped at some time during the four years prior to the mapping date', the Borel Property can no longer be recognized as Unique Farmland," officials said in the report.
While the report outlines mitigation measures that are expected to reduce environmental impacts identified in the EIR process, officials conclude that the need to allow for additional housing could have both anticipated and unanticipated impacts.
"Future construction activities on the candidate housing sites would require the use of nonrenewable construction materials ... Nonrenewable resources and energy would also be consumed during the manufacturing and transportation of building materials, site preparation, and construction of the buildings," officials said in the report. "Construction details on each individual project are not currently known and, therefore, cannot be quantified."
However, the report points to measures in the town's General Plan that are expected to mitigate and counter significant environmental impacts.
Overall, the new housing sites identified earlier in the update process are expected to have a minimal impact, by making use of underutilized land and locations near existing developments.
The draft EIR is available for public review on the town's website through Oct. 28. Public comments are invited in writing or at an upcoming public hearing on Sept. 27.