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Grover Beach considers application for grant to increase housing stock 

The city of Grover Beach had the first of many conversations regarding housing at its City Council meeting on Sept. 3, and along with possible policy and zoning changes, council members discussed applying for a one-time grant that could help increase housing production.

At the meeting, City Council considered all things housing, from recently passed state laws, to the city's rates of affordable housing production in years past, to the upcoming housing element update.

"This is really intended as a study-session type item," City Manager Matthew Bronson said at the meeting. "There is no action being requested of the council this evening. We are beginning a dialogue regarding housing and the requirements placed upon the city by the state and other entities, and opportunities and potential actions the city could take as a result."

According to city staff, the state is becoming more and more serious about increasing its housing stock for all residents, especially those who make low and moderate wages.

Community Development Director Bruce Buckingham said Grover Beach has struggled in the past to meet its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) goals, the number of new housing units local jurisdictions are supposed to build in a certain period of time. Although cities aren't charged with building the units themselves, they are required to ensure that the necessary land-use policies are in place to facilitate the assigned housing production.

In the last housing element, Grover Beach was tasked with producing 165 units in five years. Only 69 of those were supposed to be market-rate units, and the rest were to be affordable for very low-, low-, and moderate-income residents. The city produced 126 units total, but 112 were market-rate units, according to the city staff report.

Now the city is responsible for producing 369 units in the next 10 years, Buckingham said, and 58 percent should fall into the affordable category.

Grant funding from Senate Bill 2 could be vital to making that scale of production possible.

SB 2 offers Grover Beach $160,000 of one-time, non-competitive funding for reshaping its housing policies to better facilitate increased housing production. The application must be submitted by Nov. 30, according to the staff report, and all related activities must be completed by June 2022.

At the Sept. 3 meeting, council members considered a variety of policy changes and activities that could be funded by the grant: allowing residential projects by right, affordable housing density bonuses, an inclusionary housing ordinance, updates to the city's accessory dwelling unit ordinance, the creation of a tiny-home ordinance, city-developed accessory dwelling unit prototype building plans, removing potential barriers to in-fill housing, an increased focus on affordable-by-design units, and providing incentives and concessions to housing development.

City Council members, Grover Beach residents, nonprofit leaders, and developers who spoke at the meeting showed overwhelming support for nearly all the potential policy changes outlined by city staff.

Although Mayor Pro Tem Mariam Shah said she was concerned that it could be a significant time constraint for city staff, especially considering the looming application deadline, council members agreed that they'd like city staff to do more research into each of the policy options, so that all could potentially be included in the city's application for SB 2 funding.

City staff are now working with that direction and will develop a resolution, which the city manager said will be brought back to City Council for discussion in late October or early November. Δ

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