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Housing Claremont’s Statement on Village South

Leigh Anne Jones, Chair Planning Commission City of Claremont 225 Second Street Claremont, CA 91711

Dear Commissioner Jones:

Housing Claremont has been a consistent advocate for alleviating housing shortages for low and very low-income residents in our community. The Village  South development presents a rare opportunity for the city to make significant progress in doing just this. The scale of the project allows for the inclusion of a  significant number of affordable housing units, which could help meet the city’s state-mandated obligations for developing low-income housing. Therefore, we are disappointed to see that affordable housing has not made a priority in this development. While other community development values, such as historic preservation, have been well-attended in the final environmental impact study (FEIR), we find no specific or explicit reference to affordable housing being a project objective. The city contends that this development will contribute generally to meeting its 2020 Regional Housing Needs Assessment, and that its current inclusive housing ordinance is sufficient to meet affordable housing needs. We disagree. The current market is very unlikely to meet the housing needs of low income families, and the city should be making an effort beyond current policy to meet this critical need. Affordable housing should be an objective of this project, and we ask the Planning Commission to explore ways in which the city can commit to this goal.

We are particularly focused on the Village South development because it has most of the elements that make it ideal for the inclusion of affordable housing. As a transit-oriented development, it has ample transportation connections to serve the needs of low-income families. Its proximity to shopping, education, and employment opportunities likewise makes it very suitable for affordable housing. Its scale and density also allow for many more affordable units than low-density housing developments could.

We have been a consistent advocate for affordable housing in the Village South development, but we do not see it as a project objective in the FEIR. In our February 2020 letter to then-Mayor Larry Schroeder, we asked that in the “Village South Environmental Impact Report, the city should keep foremost in their deliberations how this particular site can be a key to meeting our obligations for building low and very low income housing.” In May 2020 we built a coalition with Sustainable Claremont and Inclusive Claremont to advocate for Village South Specific Plan to contain sufficient scale and density to allow for a more sustainable development. Our particular concern in doing so, of course, was making inclusion of affordable housing a project objective. We were gratified to see the outpouring of community support for our petition, and the City Council voting unanimously in favor of sufficient density. However, we are disappointed that the current FEIR doesn’t rise above current policy in making affordable housing a project objective.

We feel there is still time to make affordable housing a priority in Village South, and that failing to do so would be missing a rare opportunity. Few projects like Village South, which has nearly all the elements necessary to support affordable housing, are possible in the city. Simply doing the minimum isn’t doing enough. We ask that Commissioners explore concrete ways in which the city can live up to its values of sustainability and inclusion by making affordable housing an objective of the Village South development.

Sincerely, Zachary Courser President, Housing Claremont

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