Notice of Determination for the Contra Costa County 6th Cycle Housing Element Update. The Contra Costa County 6th Cycle Housing Element Update (proposed project) is one of the required elements of the General Plan. As a policy document, the Housing Element does not normally result in physical changes to the environment but rather encourages the provision of affordable housing within the land use designations shown in the Land Use Element of the General Plan. The Housing Element identifies policy direction to meet the housing needs of the County by preserving existing homes and clarifying priorities for housing creation. The proposed Housing Element will include an overview of housing policies and programs and will identify locations that can accommodate future housing.
The proposed project will require that the County redesignate land to meet the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) of 7,610 total housing units. The County also intends to comply with No-Net-Loss (Gov. Code Section 65863) through identifying a surplus of sites available to meet its RHNA allocation. In total, the County’s surplus unit capacity is 2,485 units. In order to meet this requirement, the County must redesignate up to approximately 560 acres of land.
The proposed project would require changes in land use designations for sites that currently allow residential uses but would need to be redesignated to allow for increased residential density, in addition to sites with designations that do not currently allow residential density and would need to be redesignated to allow residential development.
The Housing Element Update also includes an additional 92 acres of land that do not require a designation or zone change but are counted toward the County’s RHNA.
For the purposes of the analysis, the housing sites will be categorized in the following way:
• Residential Sites with Increasing Allowable Density: Shown in Table 1, Residential Sites with Increasing Allowable Density, these sites are currently designated for residential uses and are proposed to be redesignated to accommodate increased residential densities. This category encompasses approximately 473 acres across 330 parcels. Maximum buildout of these sites result in 15,572 residential units. The sites in this category correspond to those in Table B in Appendix A of the draft Housing Element Update.
• Non-Residential Sites Proposed to Allow Residential Units: Shown in Table 2, Non- Residential Sites Proposed to Allow Residential Units, these sites are currently designated for a variety of non-residential uses and are proposed to be redesignated to allow residential uses. This category encompasses approximately 86 acres across 46 parcels. Maximum buildout of these sites under their new designations would result in 4,053 residential units. The sites in this category correspond to those in Table B in Appendix A of the draft Housing Element Update.
• Suitably Designated/Zoned Sites: Shown in Table 3, these are sites in the Housing Element sites inventory that are do not require a designation or zone change to contribute to the County’s RHNA. This category includes 153 parcels that encompass a combined approximate 92 acres. Maximum buildout of these sites is 791 residential units. The sites in this category correspond to those in Table A in Appendix A of the draft Housing Element Update.
As shown in Tables 1 through 3, each site’s “proposed maximum allowable units” assumes that the entire acreage of the site will be developed at its maximum allowable density. This was calculated by multiplying the acreage of the site by its proposed maximum allowable density. This scenario is highly conservative as it is unlikely that 100 percent of the sites would be developed at 100 percent of their allowed capacity. The proposed Housing Element Update used a different
methodology to calculate the unit allocation of each site for the purposes of the County’s RHNA.
The “realistic capacity” used in the proposed Housing Element was based on a variety of assumptions including current and historic development trends in the County and the units contributed by current development applications (see page 155 of the draft Housing Element, for more details). For purposes of this EIR, full development of the properties at the allowable density is assumed.
The location of all parcels affected by the proposed project is shown on Figures 2 through 20. It should also be noted that this project will not change the land use designations or zoning of any of the parcels in Tables 1 through 3, as this action will occur with the larger General Plan Update that is already in progress and will have its own EIR. However, this EIR will evaluate the sites using the proposed general plan land use designations as currently under consideration. An objective of this project is to publicly review the list of sites to determine if there are significant environmental impacts that would affect any future change in designation or density.
Development under the Housing Element Update would be located within the Urban Limit Line and comply with the 65/35 Standard, which limits urban development to no more than 35 percent of the land area of the County, preserving the remaining 65 percent for agriculture, open space, wetlands, parks, and other non-urban uses.
The update to the Contra Costa County General Plan and Zoning Ordinance is underway (https://envisioncontracosta2040.org/) but will not be complete before the housing element adoption deadline of January 2023. Therefore, because it is not known for certain which of the sites will be redesignated to meet the RHNA, the County is preparing this EIR to evaluate the cumulative impacts of all the sites at a programmatic level.
Additional information regarding the Housing Element Update can be found on the County’s website: https://www.contracosta.ca.gov/8525/Housing-Element-Update.