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

The city of San Juan Bautista is close to being compliant with state housing requirements after council members approved one of two draft housing elements at its Oct. 8 special meeting. Council members also selected a site for potential affordable housing on Oct. 16. The second and final housing element is expected to be approved by the end of the year.

Required by state law since 1969, a housing element is a portion of a city or county’s general plan that outlines appropriate development procedure.

With the city out of compliance since 2015, the state required San Juan Bautista to compile two four-year housing elements—a fifth and sixth cycle—in order to be up-to-date. Council members hired EMC Planning Group to bring the city’s housing element into compliance. Once the city completes both housing elements, it can return to the typical eight-year housing element cycles. 

In under 30 minutes, the San Juan Bautista City Council received a presentation on the housing element, discussed and approved it. Councilman Dan De Vries and Councilwoman Mary Edge were absent; Edge had an excused absence according to city clerk Laura Cent. No residents spoke at the meeting.

Martin Carver with EMC Planning Group said the sixth cycle is “basically repackaging what we have and updating it a little bit.” EMC submitted the sixth cycle housing element to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on Oct. 2 for the 60-day review in an effort to complete it by the end of the year. Carver said the city caught a break in that HCD made an exception to review the sixth cycle before the fifth cycle was completed.

“They are really working hard to get cities through this process and we’re happy for that cooperation,” Carver said. 

The approved housing element included the mitigated negative declaration and mitigation monitoring programs, which address adverse environmental effects during development projects. Mitigation measures include dust control, health risk assessment, protecting special-status amphibian and reptile species, and setbacks.

At the Oct. 16 meeting, the city council approved an additional site for potential affordable housing required by the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). The property, located across from the Mission Garden Apartments and referred to as site D, is zoned mixed use and will not be rezoned. The council, however, will impose conditions of approval for affordable housing to comply with RHNA numbers. 

Not originally among the three options presented by EMC Planning Group at a previous workshop, it gained support from the public, including property owner Howard Cohen who supported the rezoning of the property to R-3 high density residential.

At an Oct. 1 city Planning Commission meeting, members raised concerns about what to do with a historical building known as the George Chalmer’s House.

San Juan Bautista Historical Society President Wanda Guibert said it is estimated the Chalmers’ house was built in 1878 in the Folk Gothic Revival Style. Chalmers also designed two San Juan Bautista homes that are on the National Registry of Historic Places

Cohen said he has several options that include donating it to the city, relocating it within the property based on development, and rebuilding it with as much of the original lumber as possible. 

“We want to maintain all of that for everybody and it’s important to us,” Cohen said.


Other related BenitoLink articles:




Noe Magaña is BenitoLink' content manager, co-editor. He began with BenitoLink as in intern and later served as a freelance reporter and staff reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography....