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Housing Element Update set for Council

POSTED July 17, 2009 10:48 p.m.
The Turlock Planning Commission approved the 2009 Housing Element Update Thursday evening, moving the document that will help the City of Turlock meet housing needs through 2014 ahead to the next planning milestone.
The new document will bring myriad changes to Turlock’s housing programs, running the gamut from a new land banking program to targeted reinvestment strategies and plans for county island incorporation — a topic which won the wholehearted support of Planning Commissioners.
A zoning area where homeless shelters would be allowed by right will also be a required feature of the Housing Element, following the passage of Senate Bill 2.
The first-time home buyers loan program currently in existence would receive an overhaul under the new Housing Element, changing what is now an almost automatic $80,000 loan into something more like gap financing, loaning only what is needed.
Developers would also see changes under the proposed Housing Element, including new incentives for the development of affordable housing units. Such incentives could include density bonuses, fee deferrals, and/or funding assistance for including affordable or high-density units within projects.
Residents who agree or disagree with the proposed changes are invited to comment on the Housing Element Update at upcoming meetings, which will offer a chance to shape the document into something that will meet all of Turlock’s unique needs.
“There are still lots of opportunities for input on this topic,” said Leslie Gould, Principal with Dyett & Bhatia Urban & Regional Planners.
The City Council is tentatively set to review the Housing Element Update on July 28. Should all go as planned, the document would then proceed on to the California Department of Housing and Community Development for review on Aug. 1.
The Planning Commission and Council would then take the document up again in public hearings this fall for a final adoption sometime in January 2010.
And then, according to Turlock Planning Manager Debbie Whitmore, comes the hard part.
“We don’t have the enviable part of it,” Whitmore said. “We have to implement what we’re now telling ourselves to do.”
In other Planning Commission news, Commissioner Aben Williams has resigned from the Commission. A job promotion forced Williams into a sudden move to Oregon, which had already occurred before Thursday’s meeting.
Planning Commission Alternate Victor Pedroza is expected to take Williams’ seat.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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