Viewpoint: Still time to address redlining

The longstanding, severely constraining process of providing affordable housing across the socioeconomic spectrum in Claremont is replete with growth restrictive policies, which, when combined, effectively serve as redlines against the economic feasibility of developing low income housing for either sale or lease.

When taken together with the power of the podium to persuade, our council has adopted the quasi no-growth policy that derives from these policies and claiming they are both consistent with the construction, architectural, and traffic requirements of our land use implementation plan, which in turn support a heritage of preservation that must be protected from corruption.

There is only one thing wrong with this picture: it is inconsistent with, and in direct opposition to the values and vision of our general and sustainability plans, and the commitment and responsibilities assumed by our city council to implement our housing element’s requirements to facilitate the provision of low income housing to residents of Claremont.

The following section of our housing element was included in our 2006 general plan, and in each revision of our housing element since. It is also present in the draft of the 2021-2029 housing element that is currently being considered for adoption and submission to the state.

“Housing Element Requirements
Pursuant to State Housing Element Law (Section 65583 of the Government Code), the Housing Element must contain local commitments to:

• Provide sites with appropriate zoning and development standards, and with services and facilities to accommodate the jurisdiction’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) for each income level.
• Identify zoning districts where emergency shelters, and transitional and supportive housing are permitted uses without a discretionary permit.
• Assist in the development of adequate housing to meet the needs of extremely low-, very low-, low-, and moderate-income households.
• Address, and where appropriate and legally possible, remove governmental constraints to the maintenance, improvement, and development of housing, including housing for all income levels and housing for people with disabilities, including people with developmental disabilities.
• Conserve and improve the condition of the existing affordable housing stock.
• Promote housing opportunities for all persons regardless of race, religion, sex, marital status, ancestry, national origin, color, familial status, or disability.
• Preserve for lower income households, the assisted housing developments.
The housing element must establish specific actions, objectives, and timelines for addressing the above requirements.”

The inclusion of this section is meant to serve as evidence of our city’s intent to meet requirements that support and promote realizing our share of the state’s assessment of housing needs that support both a healthy economy, and the ever changing socioeconomic demographic profile of the state’s resident population.
More importantly, it provides the blueprint for both incorporating into our housing element our core values and vision of becoming an inclusive, socioeconomically diverse community, as well as the commitment of our council to eliminate constraints and adopt policies and practices that will facilitate achieving adequate housing to meet the needs of extremely low-, very low-, low-, and moderate-income households.

It is unfortunate that the steadfast adherence to our own structural and systemically entrenched “governmental constraints,” means that we have abandoned the vision of community embodied in our 2006 general plan. And it is embarrassing to this advocate for affordable housing, that without any effort to either identify them as such, or “establish specific actions, objectives, and timelines for addressing” their removal, we have also intentionally disguised our failure to fulfill our past and present commitments and responsibilities to perform constitutionally established duties of a general law city, and will continue to do so should we submit another integrity compromising housing element that does not address removing our own self-imposed constraints on affordable housing.

Joseph Lyons
Citizen of Claremont

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