New rules meant to address a shortage of affordable housing in Pomona are set to take effect in May following the City Council’s near-unanimous approval of an “inclusionary housing” ordinance.
After months of discussion, the council on Jan. 4 voted 6-1 to approve the ordinance, which requires future residential developments to include a certain percentage of affordable units, either for renters or homebuyers with low to moderate income levels. Councilman Robert Torres was the sole dissenting vote.
The council’s approval came after discussion about the 90-day grace period that would follow a second reading of the ordinance Feb. 1. Council members Victor Preciado and Nora Garcia argued that enacting the policy later would mean more families having to wait for development to be completed and could cause their displacement.
“These aren’t just units that we’re talking about; these are families that will be living here,” Preciado said at the meeting.
Following the recommendation of Deputy City Manager Kirk Pelser, the council agreed to give developers an incentive to begin their projects before the ordinance takes effect May 3.
Incentive for Developers
Under the ordinance, developers beginning in May will be required to set aside 7% of single-family homes, 11% of town homes and condominiums and up to 13% of apartments for moderate-income households, or those with four people earning less than $92,700 combined.
But a phased-in approach, the council agreed, will allow developers to reduce by half the number of affordable units they must set aside if they begin their project before the ordinance takes effect.
“We need a phased-in approach so that we can capture as much housing as possible for our families as quickly as possible,” Garcia said. “This is important for our city and everyone that wants a place to live here in Pomona.”
Under the ordinance, if developers choose not to designate a certain number of affordable units in new housing projects, they may opt to pay an in-lieu fee into a city-run affordable housing fund, or they may develop affordable units offsite.
If a developer chooses not to build units himself, he will be subject to an in-lieu fee of $11.40 per square foot of saleable/lease area for single-family homes, $9.30 for condos and $9.20 for apartments. Those requirements apply to all housing projects of three or more units within city limits.
All off-site apartment development within 1 mile of an ownership project must set aside 15% of its units for low-income households, or those with four people earning less than $90,100 combined. For apartment development, on-site production requires 13% to be used for moderate-income households, a jump from 11% in prior meetings.
The housing program will be subject to review every three to five years, city officials said.