Affordable housing for all income levels is now a reality in Millbrae.
The City Council adopted affordable housing requirements and a new housing fund at its July 13 meeting to expand affordable housing throughout the city.
“This is an important step for Millbrae to have codified ... affordable housing mechanisms that we can use as we develop along our El Camino Real and around our transit station. And now developers will have a better understanding of what we’re looking for here and we’ll be able to start actually getting some affordable units built,” Mayor Ann Schneider said. “What I’m most excited about is beginning to do the work for affordable housing preservation.”
Housing preservation is a way of saving existing, typically apartments, that are pretty run-down. With the housing preservation program, the city can begin to develop the relationships with the housing preservation entities including Mid-Peninsula Housing Coalition and LifeMoves. These groups restore housing stock that does need to be renovated but is kept in the affordable marketplace, Schneider said.
“With the pandemic, we’ve just seen the housing affordability come to a forefront for many of our members of the community making lower wages,” said Darcy Smith, Millbrae’s community development director. “There’s been a lot of state action through rental assistance, displacement, support, but never has there ever been a greater need to be able to house our local workers as there is now.”
The adopted resolution includes program regulations, affordable housing in-lieu fees for residential development projects, and commercial linkage impact fees for nonresidential development projects.
These policies will require the construction of affordable housing on-site with a range of housing types, tenures and affordability in the private development project, and these regulations will mitigate the effects of new development by requiring developers to pay in-lieu or impact fees, or build on-site affordable housing.
It will create a new affordable housing fund, and a new funding source for the city to directly fund construction or preservation of affordable units, and related programs in Millbrae.
“With the pandemic, we’ve just seen the housing affordability come to a forefront for many of our members of the community making lower wages,” Darcy Smith, Millbrae’s community development director, said. “There’s been a lot of state action through rental assistance, displacement, support, but never has there ever been a greater need to be able to house our local workers as there is now.”
Requirements include provision of on-site or inclusionary affordable housing, designated as deed restricted, which applies to projects with 10 or more units, and an affordable housing in-lieu fee on residential development projects consisting of four to nine units, or a fractional fee if 10 or more units result in a fractional unit.
The resolution states that fees in lieu of constructing the units are not allowed except for a provision of the fractional units.
“That’s really to ensure new affordable housing is built in Millbrae to make progress towards meeting those goals and to really house our workers,” Smith said. “The developer of rental units may request an alternative compliance method, but that would be required to still provide actual construction housing the Millbrae so it may include a donation of land off site or acquisition of rehabilitation of existing units that would be subject to city council approval with a development project,” she said.
The impact fees are broken into three different categories. The first is hotels or visitor accommodations, and that’s charged at the rate of $3,868 per hotel room. Second is retail sales, eating and drinking entertainment, personal services, pet related services or vehicle related at $5.80 per square foot. And then office uses, including general office or specialized office, at $12,86 per square foot.
The resolution really establishes firm clear standards for these formal housing sizes, the types, design standards and making sure these units have equal access to all the amenities on site, she said.
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