Early morning in San Juan Bautista. Photo by Leslie David.

Article updated Feb.21 and corrected for accuracy. Hollister is not out of compliance at this time. The city of Hollister is currently “under review” and has been warned it would be out of compliance if its proposed Ordinance were passed.

The city of San Juan Bautista is being targeted by recently elected Governor Gavin Newsom for being out of compliance with state housing requirements.

San Juan Bautista received a “Housing Element Notice of Noncompliance” letter on Dec. 14, 2018 (See PDF).

Hollister was sent a letter on Feb. 1 stating that its proposed housing Ordinance is not currently acceptable to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

“Based on a review of draft revisions and the pending Ordinance, the element would no longer comply with the element law if the draft revisions and Ordinance are adopted,” the department of housing wrote (See PDF).

A housing element is a portion of a city or county’s general plan, required by state law since 1969, that outlines appropriate development procedure. According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, “local governments must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for (and do not unduly constrain), housing development. As a result, housing policy in California rests largely on the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements.”

San Juan Bautista Mayor César Flores and City Manager Michaele La Forge attended a meeting regarding the housing requirements with Governor Newsom and other city representatives in Long Beach on Feb. 19. According to San Juan Bautista City Planner Todd Kennedy, Governor Newsom sent correspondence summoning them on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Kennedy told BenitoLink on Feb. 20 that he is relatively new to his office, but last summer the city became aware it was out of compliance. He said when he took the job “a lot of things were inherited.” Since then, the city has been working directly with state housing, Kennedy said.

On Jan. 14, the San Juan Bautista Planning Commission approved a recommendation to hire EMC Planning Group to update the city’s housing element, which has been out of compliance since 2015. EMC Planning Group proposes to do a two-phase update for up to $43,877. San Juan Bautista would pay $28,561 for the first phase and $15,316 for the second. According to their proposal, EMC estimates finishing certification of the first part of the housing element in June. The second phase is estimated to be completed in Dec. 2019.

Based on what Governor Newsom is terming “California’s housing crisis”, cities are being threatened with legal action and possibly reduced funds if they don’t comply with his new state housing initiative. The governor recently announced that he wants 3.5 million new homes built across the state by 2025 and that he needs California cities on board.

A housing workshop for San Juan Bautista residents is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Feb. 20 at the VFW in San Juan Bautista.

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