San Juan vacant site inventory. Courtesy of the city of San Juan Bautista.
San Juan vacant site inventory. Courtesy of the city of San Juan Bautista.

At a special meeting of the San Juan Bautista Planning Commission on Sept. 12, members voted to forward a draft of the 2023-2031 Housing Element and Fair Housing Analysis to the San Juan Bautista City Council for consideration before submitting it to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for review and approval. 

Prior to the vote, consultant George Issac gave a presentation that outlined the process of creating the housing element and gave a timeline for its adoption.

“This is the city’s mission and the plan,” he said, “on how best to provide housing for all income groups, which is the keyword in the whole debate.”

Since 1969, the State of California has required the inclusion of a housing element to adequately meet the housing needs of the community as part of the city’s general plan. It states that local governments “must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for (and do not unduly constrain) housing development.” Housing elements must, by law, be updated every eight years.

While creating the housing element, surveys on various points of population data were done to assess regional needs that take into account housing disparity and diversity in the city according to several indices:  

  • Population (2020 decennial): 2,089
  • Hispanic or Latino: + 60%
  • Households (2021): 699
  • Owner-occupied (2021): 56.37%
  • Persons per household (2021): 2.68
  • Median household income (2021): $92,404
  • Poverty (2021): 6.7%

Other factors include the following metrics:

  • Diversity index: moderate to high diversity index scores throughout the city
  • Income disparity index: the county has lower overall poverty levels compared to California as a whole
  • Dissimilarity (uneven distribution of ethnic populations): population distribution in San Juan Bautista is approximately 50% Hispanic/Latino
  • Ethnic concentration of poverty: There are no racially concentrated areas of affluence or racially concentrated areas of poverty in the city
  • Disparity in access to opportunity: the city has moderate resources and opportunities.

Following this assessment, the HCD determines the number of housing units that should be constructed between 2023-2031, the allotted period of the housing element. For San Juan Bautista, the RHNA indicates 88 housing units are needed, with eight extremely low-income units, 10 very low-income units, 14 low-income units, 18 moderate units and 38 above moderate units.

Issac said there are several natural impediments, including undulating terrain, flood and fire zones and areas with earthquake zones, which prevent a large number of units from being built within the city.

“There is really very little area that we have,” he said, “and if we have to add a lot of homes, we will have to annex more land surrounding us. It would very much happen based on demand and what the city’s policies are.”

Following his presentation, Planning Commissioner Dan DeVries questioned Issac on the land inventory charts. “I am just trying to interpret this in a bottom-line kind of way,” he said. “How many units could San Juan Bautista build, hypothetically, based on this inventory within city limits?” 

After reviewing the charts, Issac replied that 135 units could be built, which is well within the city’s ability to build the 88 RHNA-mandated units without annexing more land. 

“I don’t think we are a candidate for rezoning requirements,” he said. 

The element was approved for referral to the City Council by a 4-0 vote, with DeVries, David Medeiros, Jose Aranda and Tony Correia voting.

The next steps in the process will be a review by the City Council, along with public comments, at its next regular meeting on Sept. 19; a review by HCD; the preparation of a final housing element which will be submitted to the City Council for approval; and certification by HCD.

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