A public hearing at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting concerning potential sites for affordable housing drew a concerned crowd to council chambers.
Balancing the need—and state requirements—for affordable housing with preserving the quality of life that draws residents and businesses to Poway is a never-ending challenge for the City in the Country.
The issue Tuesday night was a proposal to assign low-income and moderate-income overlay zones on six publicly owned sites in Poway that would determine how many housing units per acre could be built. No new development is currently planned for any of the sites, which range from a .3 acre parcel on 13031 Poway Road to a 6.77 acre parcel on the southwest corner of Twin Peaks Road and Community Road that includes a park-and-ride lot.
While councilmembers expressed concerns about the feasibility of developing affordable housing on some of the sites—especially the park-and-ride lot—they passed the agenda item unanimously. City staff advised the council that the state could take away land-use control from the city if it is not in compliance with affordable-housing requirements.
“The consequences of not adopting these overlays are dire,” said Councilman John Mullin.
Councilwoman Merrilee Boyack said that the issue is tough because the city is “at the mercy of the state” and she is not happy with state requirements about how Poway can be developed.
“With that said, we’ve have some marvelous affordable-housing developments in our city that have just been absolutely fantastic,” she said. “I think it’s just this dictatorial and controlling aspect that comes out of the state that is so frustrating to us.”
Boyack clarified for the audience that the city is required by the state to have zoning that provides for a certain number of units, but it is not required to actually build that number.
The City Council can also change the zoning in the overlay zones in the future, but if affordable-housing units are lost another parcel must be found to accommodate those units.