City Council will meet on Tuesday, Dec. 15 for a special meeting to discuss the upcoming Housing Element update.

The Housing Element will be part of a study session and while it doesn’t include a vote, the Tuesday item is an opportunity for Council to provide direction to staff on the process.

The Housing Element is a state-mandated part of a City’s General Plan, a zoning document that articulates the city’s development goals and policies.

“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 (and do not unduly constrain) housing development,” said the staff report.

The Housing Element must contain a needs assessment, discussion of barriers to development, an evaluation of progress, identification of sites for housing and implementation plans.

Santa Monica’s plans must account for an increase of approximately 8,800 units, of which approximately 70% are affordable housing units.

The targets are set by state regulators and the current numbers are almost five times higher than the previous allocation of 1,674 units.

According to the staff report, it’s too late for Santa Monica to appeal its allocation but there is a process to request a more realistic allocation if the city can show the current number exceeds available resources and the community’s ability to meet the goal.

Failure to adopt a satisfactory Housing Element can result in a lawsuit brought against the city by the State.

“Other repercussions for noncompliance include limited access to state funding where eligibility for funding is contingent on the jurisdiction having a substantially compliant housing element,” said the staff report. “To incentivize and reward local governments that have adopted compliant and effective Housing Elements, several housing, community development, and infrastructure funding programs include Housing Element compliance as a rating and ranking or threshold requirement.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, staff are asking Council to provide feedback on the scope of a study related to housing production and the scope of a study related to housing preservation.

According to the State, the Housing Element has to be finished and adopted by October 2021.

At the meeting Council will also discuss a ban on fast food restaurants on the Promenade, two appointments to the Audit Subcommittee, a vacancy on the Personnel Board and the second reading of an ordinance relating to public housekeeping training.

Council will meet via teleconference at on Dec. 15. Closed session begins at 5:30 p.m. Visit www.smgov.net for streaming information.

editor@smdp.com