El Cerrito cannot delay implementing affordable housing strategy



On Oct. 26, 2017 demolition crews reduced the Audiss RV park to rubble.

This defunct RV park now symbolizes El Cerrito’s future: Displacement of the vulnerable, and frantic development.

The demolition comes on the heels of a recent article in the East Bay Times describing four new proposed projects for El Cerrito. The total market rate units recently approved or with complete applications is around 638, there are an additional 204 affordable units, but these are all the legacy of the redevelopment agency, none of the market rate developers are bringing affordability on their own accord.

In August, the El Cerrito City Council adopted an Affordable Housing Strategy to advance the city’s housing goals as well as reduce the risk of displacement.

The City Council placed a high priority for immediate action on at least four strategies: A nexus study to establish affordable housing impact fees on new residential development; implementation of an inclusionary housing policy on ownership housing; designing an ordinance to regulate demolition of existing housing units, including requiring tenant relocation assistance; studying potential tenant protection options and evaluating the success of existing programs.

How long will these studies take? A course of action, a decisive road to protect renters and vulnerable residents is not yet in place.

While the city staff wants to update El Cerrito’s Specific Plan scope as its high priority, implementing the affordable housing strategy cannot wait.

How many more developers will come knocking on City Hall doors for lucrative deals and swiftly move through a design process?

How many projects will be approved that can be afforded by only those earning triple digit annual figures, or by those who choose to pay over 50 percent of their income toward housing?

El Cerrito’s City Council is in new territory as the rapidly changing demographics and economy impact our entire region.

The city should enact policies to protect renters including a rent stabilization ordinance and a just cause eviction ordinance like those that have been enacted by the the East Bay cities of Richmond, Berkeley, Oakland and Alameda. The city can momentarily desist from approving any new development of market-rate units until it has fully studied and put into place inclusionary policies, or impact fees, or both, on new development.

Many experts claim that building more market-rate projects does not necessarily bring down the cost of housing. What we can all agree on is this: Current market rate housing for many residents of El Cerrito, will soon force some to seek housing elsewhere and force younger generation of El Cerritoans to move out of the area.

Sherry Drobner, Howdy Gowdy, Nicholas Gallaro, Ronnie Polansky for El Cerrito Progressives



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