Among the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance is the requirement to build affordable units within 10 miles of an incorporated city. Photo by Monserrat Solis.
Among the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance is the requirement to build affordable units within 10 miles of an incorporated city. Photo by Monserrat Solis.

The San Benito County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 12 unanimously approved changes to the Affordable Housing Regulations proposed by the county’s Planning Commission. The changes included setting an affordable housing threshold and terminating the Housing Advisory Committee.

The county’s Planning Commission had previously approved the changes to the Affordable Housing Regulations, also known as the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, in a public hearing on July 19.

The housing ordinance establishes requirements for future housing developments, aims to set the minimum amount of affordable housing that will be built, and sees that county land is used for housing in accordance with state and local housing needs.

Three amendment changes were approved by the supervisors:

  • Terminating the Housing Advisory Committee
  • A requirement to build affordable units within 10 miles of an incorporated city
  • Updating the 20% requirement for off-site rental units among very low, low and moderate income designations

Stephanie Reck, an associate planner for San Benito County, said the 10-mile requirement would allow residents of new housing developments to effortlessly access city resources and amenities including shopping centers, grocery stores and public transportation.

For example, if an applicant proposes a development project more than 10 miles from an incorporated city in the county, affordable housing must be built outside of the project area, within the 10-mile radius, Reck said. The requirement applies to both housing for sale and for rent, Reck said in an email. 

The Planning Commission clarified that the 10-mile radius begins at the city limits and not at the center of the cities. 

According to the report by Reck, the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance applies to projects of more than six units. 

Projects of six to 10 units are required to pay an in-lieu fee of $30 per square foot for for sale units rather than building affordable housing, according to the county’s inclusionary requirements, Reck said. 

The ordinance requires that 20% of all off-site rental units be reserved for very low income, low income and medium income housing.

Affordable housing is based on an area’s median income (AMI), which in San Benito County is $101,923. The income categories vary depending on the size of a household, but the formula for affordability provided by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development is as follows:

  • Acutely low income: 0%-15% of AMI
  • Extremely low income: 15%-30% of AMI
  • Very low income: 30% to 50% of AMI
  • Lower income: 50% to 80% of AMI; this designation may also be used to mean 0% to 80% of AMI
  • Moderate income: 80% to 120% of AMI

Given this formula, a household in the county making $122,307 is considered moderate income. 

With the changes, very low income and low income units would both comprise 7.5% and moderate income units would comprise 5% of all future approved units. 

The 20% requirement meets the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation, and calls for 246 very low income and 198 low income units in the county’s next eight-year plan, Reck said.

The affordable housing plans were previously reviewed by the Housing Advisory Committee, the Planning Commission, then the Board of Supervisors, which was “redundant,” Reck, the told the meeting.

We need your help. Support local, nonprofit news! BenitoLink is a nonprofit news website that reports on San Benito County. Our team is committed to this community and providing essential, accurate information to our fellow residents. It is expensive to produce local news and community support is what keeps the news flowing. Please consider supporting BenitoLink, San Benito County’s public service, nonprofit news.

Monserrat Solis covers San Benito County for BenitoLink as part of the California Local News Fellowship with UC Berkeley. A San Fernando Valley native, she's written for the Southern California News Group,...