Government / Politics

San Juan Bautista applying for $65K housing production grant

City Manager will use funds to update accessory dwelling unit design guidelines and inclusionary ordinance.

The San Juan Bautista City Council at its June 23 special meeting gave its city manager the go-ahead to apply for a $65,000 Local Early Action Planning (LEAP) grant. The funds would be used to update the city’s Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) design guidelines and its inclusionary housing ordinance. 

The grant application, due July 1, will be sent to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Gov. Gavin Newsom allocated $250 million in the 2019-20 state budget for all regions, counties and cities to prioritize housing production.

With that allocation, HCD established the LEAP grant program to allocate $119 million for cities and counties to update their planning documents and implement process improvements that help fast-track housing production and prepare for the sixth cycle of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), which is part of each jurisdiction’s general plan. General plans serve as a jurisdiction’s blueprint for growth and the RHNA gives each area the number of housing units it must plan to accommodate. San Benito County is included in the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments’ allocation. The fifth cycle allocation ends in 2023. 

City Manager Don Reynolds said while the city was once again complaint with the state’s housing element requirements after adopting two cycles last year, the process opened up a “pandora’s box” for San Juan Bautista including the need to update its inclusionary housing ordinance, which establishes affordable housing in-lieu fees.

While San Juan Bautista was working on its housing elements, the state adopted new housing laws, including accessory dwelling units, as part of its effort to address the affordable housing shortage. 

Reynolds said he expects the city to be awarded the grant and wants to use the funds to adopt design guidelines for the ADUs, and to review San Juan Bautista’s inclusionary ordinance to verify it is currently valid and the fees are appropriate. 

Councilman Dan De Vries said he wanted the city to negotiate inclusionary ordinance fees with the Rancho Vista and Copperleaf housing developments because he believes they shortchanged the city.

“They are big numbers and I would like to see that money come back to the city,” De Vries said. 

Resident Cara Vonk said the city needs to look at mandating developers to build affordable housing rather than allowing them to pay in-lieu fees, because the city doesn’t collect enough to offer its residents affordable housing.

According to San Juan Bautista’s inclusionary ordinance, for developments of six or more units, one for every five market-rate units must be a very low or low income household. The in-lieu fee is the “median sales price of new home minus affordable three bedroom sales price.”

Reynolds also told the council that the city received a $230,000 grant on June 18 from the Caltrans Active Transportation Plan, which will be used to plan a cultural trail for bikes and pedestrians that connects to the De Anza Trail.

It’s also expected that the Council of San Benito County Governments (COG) will allocate over $26,000 to San Juan Bautista from the Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) grant.

At its June 18 meeting, COG directors told staff to distribute over $300,000 from the grant by population between the unincorporated parts of San Benito County, San Juan Bautista and Hollister. 


Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.