14 Sep San Pablo City Council Hears Housing Plans
The San Pablo Economic Development Corporation gave a presentation at the Sept. 5 City Council meeting. (Screenshot captured by Mitzi Pérez-Caro / Richmond Pulse)
By Mitzi Pérez-Caro
San Pablo city staff presented its environmental impact report on the housing element of the city’s general plan, and San Pablo Economic Development Corporation presented its homeownership program to the City Council on Sept 5.
A draft of the city’s environmental impact report on the housing element was first presented to the City Council on Aug. 18, 2022. It was amended before being presented to the state, as all cities are required to do.
A city’s general plan is its blueprint for future developments. The housing element is the long-range plan to expand housing and affordability. The environmental impact report analyzes potential consequences of the housing plan, ways to reduce or avoid them and alternatives.
“We need to be mindful to dream of ideas to better our city,” said Mayor Abel Pineda. “We want to ensure that we have the best possible situation.”
On Sept. 18, the second draft will be resubmitted to the California Department of Housing and Community Development for review. If all goes according to plan, on Dec. 19, the city planning commission will hear the new report for review and there will be another City Council hearing Jan. 8, 2024.
City staff missed the deadline to submit the housing and community development portion. According to city staff, almost all Bay Area communities missed the Sept. 30, 2022, deadline. Reportedly, only one or two Bay Area communities met it.
The hope for city staff is that the second draft of the environmental impact report will be compliant and certifiable.
In addition to the impact report focusing on housing, the council reviewed the annual services and updates from the city’s economic development corporation. One of the topics of discussion for the EDC was its homeownership program.
The goal of the homeownership program is to educate first-time home buyers in a series of 12 webinars and put them in connection with professionals.
Council member Arturo Cruz asked if the EDC was working in partnership with Lao Family Community Development, which also provides housing services in San Pablo. EDC’s Leslie Choi said they are working together and that the program is offered in 20 or more different languages.
There were 137 inquiries in the last cycle.
Council member Elizabeth Pabon-Alvarado asked what the planning and outreach looked like, saying, “I feel like understanding these programs are a little bit difficult because of our demographics.” To which Choi responded that engagement is the goal of the program.
Participants are able to receive a San Pablo Loan Assistance for Sustainable Housing, shared appreciation loan, a Workforce Initiative Subsidy for Homeownership grant or both. The SPLASH loan is up to 20% of the home value for a 30-year term with 3% per year simple interest. The WISH grant will match up to $29,000 with a 4:1 match and 100% forgiven for 5 years.
Out of the 137 inquiries, two families received the SPLASH loan and three families received the WISH grant. The process took 18 and 20 months, respectively.
“SPLASH and WISH are now at a different place from the last presentation, investment in education needed to be made,” said Pineda. “There were lessons learned. The housing crisis continues to impact what you all can do.”
“We will continue to work with companion programs,” said Choi. “From workshops, we will present and evolve.”