Santa Cruz County
CA

Agenda Item
DOC-2019-1005

Public hearing to consider resolution amending Santa Cruz County General Plan/Local Coastal Program and CEQA Negative Declaration, ordinances amending Chapters 13.10, 13.14, 16.50, 17.02 and 18.10 of the Santa Cruz County Code, related to affordable rental housing and school employee housing in public facility zones and agricultural employee housing in agricultural zones, and take related actions, as outlined in the memorandum of the Planning Director (Proposed amendments to the LCP require certification by the Coastal Commission)

Information

Department:Planning: HousingSponsors:Planning Director Kathleen Molloy
Category:PLNHOUSING - Board LetterProjects:Master Calendar
Functions:Land Use & Community Services

Board Letter

Recommended Action(s):

1.              Hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to the Santa Cruz County General Plan/Local Coastal Program (GP/LCP) and Chapters 13.10, 13.14, 16.50, 17.02, and 18.10 of the Santa Cruz County Code (SCCC) related to Public Facility (PF) and School Employee Housing and Agricultural Employee (Farmworker) Housing; 

2.              Adopt Resolution (Attachment A) approving the Negative Declaration and amendments to the Santa Cruz County GP/LCP;

3.              Adopt ordinances amending the SCCC related to workforce housing in public facility and agricultural zones (Attachments C and D); and

4.              Direct the Planning Director to file the Negative Declaration, transmit the proposed LCP amendments to the California Coastal Commission for review and certification, and take related actions required to complete the LCP amendment process.  

 

Executive Summary

The proposed General Plan/LCP and SCCC amendments establish affordable workforce rental housing and school employee rental housing as public/quasi-public uses in the PF Zone District.  These amendments also clarify that certain types of farmworker housing projects defined in the amendments are an agricultural use permitted on land zoned for agriculture consistent with state law, clarifies existing codes for small farmworker housing projects, and establishes a new discretionary review process and development reserve for development of a limited number of affordable farmworker housing projects by qualified non-profit housing developers on qualifying agricultural parcels outside the Coastal Zone.  These amendments represent the completion of a package of proposals supporting the development of affordable housing in the County as directed by the Board of Supervisors and consistent with the Housing Element of the General Plan.  The amendments related to farmworker housing have been prepared to ensure consistency with recent changes to state law enacted through Assembly Bill 1783 (Rivas), which provides a streamlined permitting process for qualifying affordable farmworker housing projects.

 

The Negative Declaration (Attachment A, Exhibit 1) establishes that the proposed amendments were reviewed for compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and were found not to have the potential to cause a significant impact to the environment.  The CEQA Initial Study is provided in Attachment J.

 

Background

In response to community concern regarding the housing crisis in the County, in June of 2018 the Board of Supervisors directed Planning staff to develop proposals facilitating the development of workforce and affordable housing, including farmworker housing.  The need for affordable housing, including workforce housing that is affordable to school employees, farmworkers, and other workers, is recognized in the County’s Housing Element.  These amendments also implement or address Objectives 130 and 132 of the County’s 2019-2021 Operational Plan.  Further background on this project and detailed analysis is provided in the report to the Planning Commission for its October 23, 2019 meeting (Attachment G).

 

 

The Planning Commission considered this item at a public hearing on October 23 and recommended its approval to the Board 5-0 with several modifications, including increasing the level of review for farmworker housing projects in the Agricultural Preserve (AP) zone district from Level 3 to Level 5, and updating the farmworker housing codes as needed for consistency with AB 1783.  The detailed recommendation is provided in the meeting minutes (Attachment H).  The Planning Commission adopted a resolution (Attachment I) recommending adoption of the Negative Declaration and Board approval of the proposed General Plan/LCP and SCCC amendments with the modifications noted above.

 

The Agricultural Policy Advisory Commission considered the proposed amendments related to farmworker housing at a public hearing on August 15, 2019 and recommended their approval to the Board 5-0. Minutes of that meeting are provided by pages 207-208 of Attachment G.  The Housing Advisory Commission considered and provided input on the proposed workforce housing policy changes at its meetings of January 9, March 5, and September 4, 2019.

 

Analysis

California law recognizes that housing affordable to school employees, farmworkers, and other lower-income workers is in short supply, making it difficult for local communities to recruit and retain workers in various key industries.  Recent state legislation aims to make it easier to develop school employee housing (AB 1157 of 2017) and farmworker housing (AB 1783 of 2019).  The proposed amendments are consistent with these state laws.  The proposed amendments address the affordable housing and local inventory goals of the County’s Strategic Plan and Objectives 130 and 132 in the 2019-2021 Operational Plan.

 

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS 

Workforce Housing in PF Zones

The proposed GP/LCP and code amendments allow development of 100% affordable rental housing on PF-zoned sites within the Urban Services Line (USL) or Rural Services Line (RSL), and school employee rental housing on sites owned by a public-school district or private school in PF zones.  The San Lorenzo Valley School District is exploring the possibility of developing school employee housing within currently vacant buildings at the Redwood Elementary School site in Boulder Creek.  Analysis of this preliminary proposal is included in the Negative Declaration and no potentially significant impacts were identified.

 

Agricultural Employee (Farmworker) Housing

The proposed GP/LCP and code amendments would achieve three primary goals related to development of farmworker housing on land in agricultural zones:  CA, A, and the P combining zone (comparable to AP zone):  

·              Consistency with the California Employee Housing Act (EHA), and related state laws, as recently amended by AB 1783, which includes a new streamlined process for certain affordable projects of up to 36 dwelling units, as defined therein; 

·              Clarify requirements for small farmworker housing projects of one to four dwelling units; 

·              Allow development of several Affordable Rental Farmworker Housing (ARFH) Projects with no more than 200 new units in total.  These projects would only be allowed in agricultural zones located outside the coastal zone or other sensitive or hazardous areas, within a designated unincorporated area of Pajaro Valley (see map in Attachment D).  ARFH projects would require Level 7 discretionary review with approval by the Board of Supervisors and would be subject to CEQA review.

 

Please see Attachment G, staff report to the Planning Commission, for a detailed description and analysis of the proposed amendments and environmental review documentation.  Strikeout-underlined versions of the proposed amendments are provided as Attachments B, E, and F.  Staff has updated the proposed amendments as recommended by the Planning Commission and in conformance with AB 1783 and related state law.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

Staff prepared an Initial Study (IS) to evaluate the potential for significant environmental impacts pursuant to CEQA. The IS (Attachment J) was published on September 12, 2019 for a comment period ending on October 11, 2019.  No comments were received during that time.  A Negative Declaration was prepared and supported by the Planning Commission on October 23, 2019, documented in the Planning Commission Resolution (Attachment I). 

 

Consistency with Local Coastal Program and Coastal Act

The proposed amendments to the SCCC and the GP/LCP are consistent with the Coastal Act and all other provisions of the Local Coastal Program.  Regulations in SCCC Title 16 protecting environmental resources and environmentally sensitive habitats will continue to apply to individual projects.  The proposed amendments would not impede coastal access and will not result in the conversion of existing uses to lower priority land uses in the Coastal Zone.  Staff has shared and discussed the proposed amendments and public notices with Coastal Commission staff and has made minor revisions to the final version of the amendments in response to their request. 

Body

Strategic Plan Element(s)

This item addresses the strategic plan element of Attainable Housing:  Affordable Housing, Community Development, and Local Inventory by updating County land use policies and codes to better facilitate development of workforce housing projects needed to meet community needs for housing affordable to local school employees, farmworkers, and lower-income workers.  This item also addresses the Dynamic Economy and Sustainable Environment elements by increasing options for local families to live closer to their workplaces and schools, reducing greenhouse gas emissions created by long-distance commutes, and by helping local public- and private-sector employers attract and retain critical workers through greater availability of workforce housing.

Meeting History

Dec 10, 2019 9:00 AM Video Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting

Public hearing held; closed the public hearing;

1) ADOPTED Resolution No. 274-2019 Approving the Negative Declaration and amendments to the Santa Cruz County GP/LCP;

2) ADOPTED Ordinance No. 5320 and Ordinance No. 5321 Amending Chapters 13.10, 13.14, 16.50, 17.02 and 18.10 of the Santa Cruz County Code related to affordable rental housing and school employee housing in public facility zones and agricultural employee housing in agricultural zones; and

3) DIRECTED the Planning Director to file the Negative Declaration, transmit the proposed LCP amendments to the California Coastal Commission for review and certification, and take related actions required to complete the LCP amendment process

RESULT:ADOPTED [4 TO 0]
MOVER:Bruce McPherson, Fifth District Supervisor
SECONDER:John Leopold, First District Supervisor
AYES:John Leopold, Ryan Coonerty, Greg Caput, Bruce McPherson
ABSENT:Zach Friend

Discussion