Affordable Housing Policy (CPA 03-02)

Summary of comments received at Focused Group Discussion, Sept. 29, 2003



The following is a summary of the comments received at this meeting.  The summary comments are bulleted.  Where appropriate, staff’s responses to the comments are provided in bold.



·         Will Rural Preservation Developments (RPD’s) be subject to the 15 percent minimum affordable unit standard?


RPD’s over 20 lots require a Special Use Permit and, therefore, could be evaluated as to how the request meets this recommendation of the Comprehensive Plan.


·         How is it insured that the target market is served—that if affordable units are built they are purchased/rented by low-moderate income families?


The next step, after adoption of the policy, is to development the programs, processes and mechanisms necessary insure appropriate use these units.  Part of that work will be to insure that 1) the units are made available to the target households 2) they remain available over time, and 3) that there is a stream of eligible and ready purchasers when the homes are complete (ready = adequate credit, down payment, etc.)


·         Is there a mechanism or opportunity to meet the required level of affordable housing by purchasing existing housing stock and committing those units to affordable housing?


This may be considered an appropriate alternative way to address this need, but more information would be needed on the specific request.


·         Concern was expressed that the neighborhood model design expectation will negatively impact the ability to provide affordable housing by increasing development cost.  Will there be any flexibility in standards/expectations for design for the purpose of forwarding the construction of affordable housing?


The Chairman of the Housing Committee stated that this was an issue with both DISC and the Housing Committee and the Housing Committee did anticipate that some reasonable flexibility in applying housing policy and neighborhood model design issues may be appropriate, if necessary, to forward the development of affordable housing.


·         The 15 percent affordable unit standard is another potential exaction incurred by a development proposal in the County that increases development cost, and ultimately the purchase price for housing.  It may create more development pressure in other adjacent surrounding Counties and communities.


·         It (the 15 percent req’t) arguably creates another disincentive to the rezoning process, potentially leading to more by-right proposals which are less dense and less consistent with new County development objectives.


·         One attendee noted that the 15 percent amount is a fairly common amount used around the country in affordable housing policies and/or regulations.


·         Will the public sector and non-profits continue to provide for the neediest parts of the population?


Yes. The policy contemplates continued public and non-profit efforts to address housing needs in the County.



·         Numerous questions were raised regarding the “mechanics” (management, procedures, process) of applying the 15 percent minimum in a development review and approval process:


-When will the affordable unit price be “defined” or accepted—with approval of ZMA, site plan or plat, Building permit or CO?  The financial market (interest rates) can change significantly from ZMA approval to CO issuance, which can affect cost/pricing of housing.  This is a concern.


-When will the developer get “credit” for the affordable housing units, when rezoned or when built?


-When the units are built, will there be eligible buyers ready to purchase?   Having to hold units waiting for eligible buyers to be ready to purchase is a concern.


-In general, the management of the program is a concern (how equitable, efficient, responsive it will be in the through the review, approval and implementation processes). 


-The program will need to strike a balance of being equitable (treating like type of proposals/situations the same) while also providing flexibility to address unique circumstances or opportunities.


-It was recommended that if some flexibility may be anticipated in the amount of affordable housing provided or in the expected urban design features of a project, that should be articulated in the land use plan and policy.


Staff has recommended adding such language to the proposed text amendment on page 23 of the Land Use Plan.


-It would be helpful to identify the relative priority of neighborhood model design features so developers know where there may be some flexibility in expectations that will allow them to better provide for affordable units.


The Housing and Planning staffs recognize that the next important step, if the Policy is adopted as proposed, is the work on the “program” management/process issues which will address may of the questions noted above.


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