Edition 9 December 2022

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Pacifica Housing 4 All on the hosted webinar for the Housing Element By Pacifica Housing 4 All

Pacifica Housing 4 All (PH4A) is a community group that believes housing is a human right, is necessary for life and health, and is critical for the wellbeing and resiliency of our community.

In 2019, the Association of Bay Area Governments advanced its recommendations for the Bay Area to address our housing crisis. The 3 Ps – protection from displacement, preservation of existing affordable housing (especially low-income), and production of housing at all levels of affordability – have not been successfully incorporated in every community. Pacifica is not alone in experiencing rent increases which far outpace wages, displacement of our essential workers, a loss of low-income housing, and past inability to build moderate to very-low income housing.

 A Housing Element has been described as “a local constitution for housing laws, determining what you can build and where. Cities have to update their Housing Elements every eight years to demonstrate they have capacity for new housing affordable at a range of income levels. Housing Elements have many requirements. In particular, we are mandated to promote inclusive, affordable housing and prevent displacement in Pacifica.”

With Pacifica’s Housing Element, we can demonstrate our commitment to meeting our entire community’s housing needs. Our panelists teach us specific policies we can include in our Housing Element to achieve our shared goals.

  • First, Jeremy Levine,  from the Housing Leadership Council, teaches us about the legal requirements for Housing Elements to promote fair housing. Fair housing laws encourage cities to implement all three Ps into their Housing Elements.
  • David Carducci, Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, discusses how we can protect tenants from displacement.
  • Kate Comfort-Harr of HIP Housing, discusses how we can preserve existing affordable homes.
  • And Serena Ip, from MidPen, shares what it takes to make affordable housing development work.

We encourage your participation. The City is seeking your input now, and your opinion is important. Here is how you can take part:

Fair housing, Jeremy Levine, Housing Leadership Council

In 2018, the State of California enacted new requirements that Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). These laws are complicated, and this 6th Regional Housing Needs Analysis (RHNA) is the first Housing Element for which they apply. Cities, as part of their Housing Elements, are mandated to demonstrate “meaningful actions…that overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected characteristics.”

There are three essential processes that Pacifica’s Housing Element needs to address:

  1. an analysis of –
    • Pacifica’s patterns of segregation and integration,
    • and seven groups identified as “special needs” populations;
  2. sites that could accommodate fair housing, which must allow at least 40 multi-family units in order to qualify for federal/state housing funds;
  3. requirement programs with discrete timelines that suggest how Pacifica can legalize affordable housing in more places, prevent displacement, preserve existing affordable housing, and produce housing that meets RHNA goals for varying levels of affordability.


Pacifica’s analysis, in a tool and map from Housing Community Development (HCD), shows that Pacifica is a racially concentrated area of affluence with the northern part of the City housing the majority of lower income residents. The Housing Element is expected to suggest ways to further housing equity.

The HCD expects Pacifica to study seven groups of “special needs”: seniors, disabled, large families with children, single parents, lower-income residents, farmworkers, and the homeless. Based on these demographic studies, the City needs to suggest ways to protect, maintain, and create appropriate housing.


Pacifica’s Housing Element needs to identify and reduce existing barriers that restrict access to more affordable housing. Pacifica’s 2020 zoning laws kept 91% of residential land for single family zoning, effectively banning fair housing. The updated General Plan only identifies two areas which could accommodate increased density: Sharp Park and the West end of Crespi. Upzoning to increase density in a few more areas could accommodate future housing needs.


The HCD, when certifying Housing Elements, will be looking for requirements to further goals with discrete timelines: specific ways which expand legal affordable housing, prevent displacement, preserve affordable housing, and produce housing at all levels of affordability. Please refer to recommendations from the other webinar panelists.

Protection from displacement, David Carducci, Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County

Summary by Nancy Tierney

In his presentation, David Carducci, Directing Attorney for Housing with the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, focused on the first tenet of the California 2019 Tenant Protection Act (TPA):  to protect tenants from being displaced. The best way to prevent homelessness, according to Carducci, is to keep people in their affordable homes. That applies to housing of all types—mobile homes, in-law units, multi-family buildings—whatever people can afford. The Legal Aid Society works to prevent illegal unjust evictions and to maintain safe affordable homes.

The 2019 TPA provisions are listed below:

  • Caps rent increases by landlords at 5% plus CPI (rate of inflation), now at about 10%;
  • Requires just cause to evict tenants; can be “at fault” or “no fault” just cause;
  • Provide rent waiver for “no fault” evictions (one month minimum);
  • Excludes some tenants, e.g., in single family houses.

Additional local tenant protections are provided in Redwood City with its minimum lease ordinance. The landlord must offer a one-year lease and must lock in the rent for a year. Two examples with relocation benefits can be found in East Palo Alto for “no fault” evictions and in San Mateo County for red-tagged units. East Palo Alto happens to be the only city in San Mateo County with rent control.

Carducci said that while tenant protections can help, the real problem is that rents are too high for many low and moderate-income people. He offered three solutions:

  • Institute rent control in each city in San Mateo County;
  • Provide more housing subsidies and more subsidized units for low and moderate-income people;
  • Establish limits on short-term rentals, associated with a decrease in the supply of housing units.

Preservation of existing affordable homes, Kate Comfort-Harr, HIP Housing

Specializing in Creative Affordable Housing  Solutions in San Mateo County  since 1972

Summarized by Suzanne Moore and Kate Comfort-Harr.

One aspect of the work done by HIP Housing is property development through the preservation of existing housing stock in the form of multi-family properties. This is important and intentional work because of well-known existing variables:

  1. There is limited buildable land.
  2. The current market can absorb high rents at the expense of those who can’t.
  3. We cannot build our way out of the housing crisis. We need to make smart use of the existing housing stock.
  4. There are no market forces to create affordable housing. Building low-income housing is not profitable.

Housing preservation expands affordable housing inventory by purchasing, deed restricting, and managing existing multi-family housing. AB 787 allows for up to 25% of RHNA credits through conversion of market-rate housing to deed restricted units.

Housing preservation is unique. Those interested in doing it must compete on the open market to acquire existing multifamily apartments. To be successful, those acquiring a property must be nimble, ready to adapt to escrow limitations, have a simplified “financing stack”, and able to collaborate across the private, public, nonprofit sectors.

There are two major challenges to housing preservation: adequate funding and a municipal process to act when opportunities arise. A community Housing Element can integrate and codify the pathway to best participate.

Financing Ingredients

  • Municipality Funding i.e.: Impact fees, CDBG, HOME
  • Special Loan Products i.e.: Long amortization schedules, low-interest rates, residual receipts, forgivable
  • Private Lenders (First subordination position)
  • Cross Sector Partnerships

Funding from a municipality can come from a funding pool dedicated for affordable housing. Often this includes money collected from impact and transfer fees or programs like Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). It’s important to note that transfer fees alone are not enough to make a meaningful impact on the financing of preservation housing. Also, in exchange for funding, nonprofit entities acquiring properties must receive an affordable deed-restriction for the property. This allows for the property tax exemption needed to keep rents low in perpetuity.

Private lenders must be cultivated and will need to be in the first subordination position for priority reimbursement.

Housing Element Process

  • Residential and commercial requirement to provide affordable housing that is tied to the production of affordable housing and impact fees. (Transfer Fees are not enough.)
  • A carve out for how affordable housing requirements and fees are calculated  and that are tied to RHNA requirements
  • An outline for developers to provide a “housing plan” so that they can  propose how they will meet their Affordable Housing requirements ($$$ vs. Units)
  • A provision that for unique housing opportunities, an alternative housing plan can be submitted subject to council approval and discretion that allows for  creative solutions

Housing Element ingredients to “create the deal” have been incorporated into other community Elements with successful outcomes. Best practices for a Housing Element to participate in housing preservation include clear requirements for production (inclusionary rate, in-lieu fees) and impact fees (title transfer fees alone are insufficient), a calculated outline to determine fees to assure affordable housing (calculations based on actual cost of unit production), and an alternative housing plan provision that gives the City Council discretion for housing preservation.


  • A developer has a requirement to provide 5-units as  part of their entitlements or pay a fee equivalent to the 5 units. 
  • However, the fee equivalent is enough to purchase  and preserve 10-units of existing housing at deeper affordability levels. 
  • The City should have the option to review and approve an “alternative housing plan” that allows the developer to divert their impact fee from the City to  the acquisition of the existing property.
Willow, 12-unit property in Menlo Park
Stafford, 7-unit property in Redwood City
Oxford, 3-unit property in Redwood City
Idaho, 6-unit property in San Mateo
El Dorado, 6-unit property in San Mateo
Cypress, 16-unit property in San Mateo
Commercial, 15-unit property in South San Francisco
Cherry, 6-unit property in San Carlos
11 S. Delaware, 11-unit property in San Mateo
Coleman, 14-unit property in Menlo Park
Rolison, 10-unit property in Redwood City


  • HIP Housing | Nonprofit Purchaser
  • Premia Capital | 1st Fully Diverted Commercial Impact Fee
  • Capital Impact Partners | Private Lender
  • City of Redwood, Alternative Affordable Housing Plan and  Deed Restriction

Opportunities to work with a nonprofit developer, Serena Ip, MidPen Housing

MidPen is a nonprofit affordable housing developer, service provider, owner and manager that uses revenues to cover operating and staff costs and then reinvests remaining revenues into housing and services instead of profit. MidPen, described as three companies in one – with divisions for development, property management and resident services, – is mission driven to create:

“…safe affordable housing of high quality
…to establish stability and opportunity in the lives of our residents,
and foster diverse communities…to live in dignity, harmony, and mutual respect.”

Midpen is based in San Mateo County and currently oversees 1677 homes across 33 properties including 4 properties on Coastside. Residents include families, seniors, the disabled, formerly homeless, farmworkers, veterans, and extremely low to low income households. Half Moon Village, a MidPen project, is a Coastside development which has a density of 27 units per acre – similar to the density under consideration for Pacifica.

A community’s Housing Element can provide opportunities for a nonprofit developer in a number of ways.

  1. The inventory list can help to identify feasible sites. The ideal site is at least .5 acres with the potential for at least 40 housing units.
  2. Aligned General Plan land use and zoning designations help to reduce development timelines.
  3. A dedicated housing fund and community monies can be used to leverage other funding sources.
  4. Fee exemptions can lower development costs.
  5. Adding Incentives, like increasing building height by a story or modifying planning code requirements to make the housing more financially feasible.
  6. Reduced parking standards, if a project is near quality transit, can reduce development costs.
  7. Overlay zones can provide special standards in order to create low-income units.

MidPen has created a Housing Element best-practices guide which includes 10 case studies which show examples from jurisdictions on how to maximize opportunities and support deed-restricted affordable housing through local planning and policies.


Webinar questions and answersJeremy Levine and Serena Ip

  • Does the Housing Element have to implement a dedicated local funding source, or can it just say that city council will consider such a policy?     

The Housing Element does not strictly require cities to dedicate a local funding source to promote affordable homes. However, cities without a dedicated funding source may struggle to demonstrate capacity to meet their affordable housing goals.

If cities do include a goal or plan to implement a dedicated local funding source, it should include specific actions needed for implementation as well as a clear timeline. The City Council will need to authorize creating a specific fund for affordable housing programs or developments within the City’s budget or authorize a nexus study if the recommendation is to create a local funding source via an impact fee or in-lieu fee.

  • So far Pacifica has shown us sites on school property, Cal Trans land or on existing shopping center parking lots, but they don’t yet have the interest of these businesses and agencies to develop on these sites. Do they need to show some agreement for redevelopment to count these?

Developer interest is not strictly required to justify including a site in the site inventory and counting the potential units. Cities can justify the inclusion of sites in the inventory using a number of strategies, which include: presenting evidence that the site’s existing use will discontinue, such as a commercial property with longtime vacancies; demonstrating a record of development taking place at similar sites in the city; or changing development standards to provide incentives for new development on chosen sites. Sites with existing businesses can be counted toward the housing allocation, though analysis must be provided demonstrating that the existing use does not preclude development (HCD’s wonky Site Inventory Guidebook describes the process in more detail).

However, publicly owned sites–including those owned by school districts or CalTrans–have stricter requirements to be included in the inventory. Specifically, the housing element must demonstrate that publicly owned sites have a clear plan for development. Publicly owned sites should be excluded from the inventory if the city cannot demonstrate clear plans for development on those sites.

  • I heard if city’s housing element is not approved by HCD by 1/31/23, city loses housing, transport and general funds from state.   Doesn’t that reduce city’s capacity to grant affordable housing funding?  Is there some additional time city can request from HCD to get deadline extension?

HCD cannot grant cities deadline extensions of its own volition, and the state legislature seems reluctant to do so. RHNA has happened every eight years for more than four decades, so Bay Area cities have had ample time to meet the January 31, 2023 deadline.

Pacifica does not have any active affordable housing developments in its pipeline, so a loss of funding for affordable housing in the city would have limited negative impact currently. Loss of transit and infrastructure funds could have a more immediate impact on the community.

Though Bay Area cities will become vulnerable to 3rd party lawsuits and builder’s remedy proposals if they do not have compliant housing elements by January 31, 2023, there is a 120-day deadline extension before cities lose access to state grant programs. Access to these grants is contingent on HCD certification.

  • Should cities be driving affordable housing initiatives, or counties? City planning ends at the city border, whereas counties might have more authority and ability to connect housing with transportation and employment.

Both cities and counties should be driving housing initiatives. City authority does end at the border, but city planning should be intentional about considering regional or neighboring resources, impacts, etc. Local communities have important knowledge that can inform connections between housing, transportation, and employment as it varies throughout the County.

Furthermore, local cities—not the county—have control over their own land use policies. Therefore, the county could not influence local land use planning as needed to plan for affordable housing even if it wanted to.


Evictions are Increasing – Suzanne Moore

Evictions have increased. Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto (CLSEPA) compares June-Sept 2019 (pre-COVID) with requests from June-Sept 2022:

  1. Eviction cases that we opened (includes Three Day Notices, Unlawful Detainer Answers, and Unlawful Detainer Mandatory Settlement Conferences):  we opened 60%+ more cases in the same time period in 2022 vs. 2019.
  2. Eviction Notice intakes:  we received about 5 times as many eviction notice intakes in the same time period in 2022 vs. 2019 – the biggest jump by far was in Three Day non-payment notices.

“CLSEPA is, of course, just a piece of the ecosystem, and these numbers do not tell the whole story.  But they do give a good idea of the drastic uptick in eviction activity San Mateo County tenants have faced since June 2022 compared to pre-COVID times” according to CLSEPA attorney, Keith Ogden.

There is a lack of affordable housing. It is estimated that for every unit of low-income housing in our County, six families are seeking it. In 2019, the Association of Bay Area Governments advanced its recommendations for the Bay Area to address our housing crisis including protection from displacement – protection which keeps people housed. Especially now, when neighbors suffer economic hardship due to the pandemic, we need to consider tools to reduce displacement.

The State passed AB 1482, the Tenant Protection Act, in 2019; but other communities have responded to loopholes and strengthened tenant protections. Redwood City adopted a Residential Protection Program providing 3 months relocation benefits for no-fault just cause evictions. Rent stabilization, stronger than the State’s program, exist in San Francisco, East Palo Alto, Alameda, Richmond, and Oakland. Concord has a rental registry that can better track vacancies, rents, and displacement. Several communities have just-cause for eviction eligibility from the first day of tenancy.

The State is asking that our Housing Element identifies the needs of special populations when developing our plans. Low-income households are among the identified risk groups. It is appropriate to identify their risk for displacement and consider policies that keep folks housed. Contact the City and our Planning Department to ask that these measures be incorporated into our Housing Element. housing@pacifica.gov

If help is needed in a rental assistance application process, please follow up with the Pacifica Resource Center.

Pacifica Housing 4 All Platform for Housing Element By PH4A

Tenant Protection

  1. Rental registry. EX: Concord: Cost $5-15 per unit and subcontracted. Could be paid by a fee to Air B&Bs, landlords, and tenants. Advantages – data source, track complaints, track displacement indicators referenced in Sharp Park Specific Plan, Air B & B tax compliance.
  2. Anti-harassment ordinance. EX: City of Richmond, JAN 2022. “Landlord harassment can be persistent…aggressive, and can disrupt a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of their home…(forcing) the tenant to move out.”
  3. Red Tag Ordinance. EX: Sacramento, City of San Mateo – requires property owners to provide relocation payments to tenants displaced because of code violations.
  4. Short term rental regulations – EX: Under negotiation in Half Moon Bay. Restricting conversion of long-term housing stock to Air B&Bs. If a rental registry is in place, the restriction could be based on low-income vacancy rate. If vacancy rate is below 5%, conversions would be restricted and thereby preserve existing long-term housing.
  5. Substantial renovation ordinance. EX: City of San Mateo. Ordinance requires that a contractor pulls necessary permits before tenant eviction. Also includes tenant first right of return and tenant 3 month relocation benefits.
  6. Just cause eviction protection from 1st day of rental. EX: San Jose, Oakland. Fills a loophole in AB 1482 and protects tenants from eviction without cause from the first day of tenancy.
  7. Developer buyout. EX: East Palo Alto. Also known as Tenants or Community Opportunity to Purchase (TOPA/COPA). Used in other communities across the country, its provides the opportunity for current tenants or the community to come up with funding and resources to create a trust – this would retain the units at an affordable level in perpetuity while also providing the participants the chance at ownership as stipulated by the trust.
  8. Special needs, our unhoused. Our needs assessment must include plans to address housing for spacial needs populations. Our One Day Homeless Count county-wide demonstrates an increase of homeless living in cars and vans, and Pacifica ranks third in the County in numbers of homeless. Pacifica’s Safe Parking Program specifically assists those in motorhomes. We do not have a program that offers safe parking for those in cars/vans/tents that desire a pathway to permanent housing. Pacifica Housing 4 All recognizes this special need and suggests a tiny home pilot.

General policies to incentivize low-income housing

  1. Increase inclusionary rate to 20% to produce more low-income housing.
  2. In-lieu fees should be based on market values (around $750 K/unit?
  3. Create a dedicated housing fund supported by: Monies can be used to leverage projects for low-income housing preservation and projects with non-profits.
    • Vacancy fee: all residential properties NOT just rental properties – see SF, Oakland, Vancouver BC 2017 – 1% non-primary residence unoccupied for more than 6 months annually including short term rentals.
    • Title transfer fee: City of San Mateo charges $5 for every $1000 of sale value
    • In lieu fees, developer impact fees (to benefit low income housing), sale of city land.
  4. Pathway for preservation of existing below market-rate housing.

EX: HIP housing and HEART: to leverage funds from our dedicated housing fund.

EX: RWC has an established system to be at the ready in the event an opportunity for housing below market-rate housing occurs

Link to City of Pacifica survey ends 12/16/22 surveymonkey.com/r/NBP5X6R

Contacts for Housing Element

Elizabeth Brooks, Management Analyst II, Planning Department Email: housing@pacifica.gov
Phone 650 501 6025

Mailing address:
540 Crespi Drive
ATTN: Planning Department
Pacifica 94044