Letter to the Editor | Inclusionary Housing Ordinance: South Pasadena Tenants Union Statement

South Pasadena Planning Commission Public Comment Regarding Agenda No. 1, Recommendation to City Council to Adopt an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance

The South Pasadena Tenants Union (SPTU) supported the Planning Department’s inclusionary housing ordinance introduced at the January 26, 2021 meeting of the Planning Commission.

Since then, we have been building support in the community for its key provisions:

1) a robust 20% set aside for affordable units in larger developments, and

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2) the requirement that all but the smallest projects must develop on-site units rather than pay in-lieu-of fees. (See Public Comment to City Council, March 3, 2021). The Planning Department revised the draft ordinance in ways that will undermine its efficacy in affordable housing production.

First, in terms of satisfying the 20% affordability set aside, the revised ordinance excludes any bonus units added pursuant to state law. The previous draft read, “All residential developments subject to this division shall include a minimum number of the required inclusionary units, calculated based on the total number of market rate units, including units allowed through a density bonus.”

The exclusion of bonus density units in calculating the number of affordable units required means that the real set aside for affordable units will be less than 20% anytime developers pursue a density increase under state or local law. This revision to the IHO will create a major shortfall in the development of affordable housing throughout the city of South Pasadena. Given the city’s RHNA allocation of 1,151 affordable units and its claim that it lacks space in which to build them, every unit counts.

The City of Pasadena – which the Planning Memo holds up as an example of a successful inclusionary housing ordinance with a 20% affordability set aside – requires 20% of all units developed, including density bonus units, to be affordable. Second, the revised ordinance provides that inclusionary units that are for sale will “be provided at the moderate income level.” The ordinance allows rental of for-sale inclusionary housing units. Taken together, these provisions create a loophole wherein developers will rent “forsale” inclusionary housing units to moderate income individuals.

South Pasadena does not have a deficit in rental housing stock that is affordable to moderate income individuals. It has a major deficit in housing affordable to Lower, Very Low and Extremely Low Income households. The loophole works at cross purposes with the ordinance’s goal of shoring up production of deeply affordable housing. South Pasadenans support inclusionary housing.

The South Pasadena Tenants Union has put its weight behind the ordinance, not because we liked everything about the first draft, (see SPTU January 26, 2021 comment to Planning Commission), but because we are willing to compromise in favor of a 20% affordability set aside that will produce deeply affordable units to low-income residents. For the reasons outlined above, the revised draft does not have SPTU’s support. We demand the Planning Commissioners revise the ordinance to:

1) Require 20% of all units, including any bonus density units, to be affordable; and

2) Require all inclusionary housing units offered for rent—whether for-sale or not—be offered at Lower, Very Low or Extremely Low Income level.

Thank you for your consideration.

Anne Bagasao, Ella Hushagen, John Srebalus, Helen Tran

Link to public comment submitted March 3 and January 26. 










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