City Council refers Affordable Housing Action Plan for implementation analysis

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Mitzi Perez/Staff

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Berkeley City Council unanimously voted that two items from the Affordable Housing Action Plan — which will regulate short-term rentals, limit the removal of rental housing units and require the city to match the income of the National Housing Trust Fund — be referred to city staff for implementation analysis at its Tuesday meeting.

The Affordable Housing Action Plan — originally proposed by Councilmember Kriss Worthington in October — included 27 recommendations that address short-term, mid-term and long-term actions intended to mitigate Berkeley’s housing crisis. The remaining 25 items were struck down, including recommendations to add $1 million to the Housing Trust Fund, pressure landlords to rent vacant buildings and build more homeless, student, senior and workforce housing, among others.

Councilmembers Lori Droste and Linda Maio, however, noted that the plan contained several recommendations for items that City Council has already addressed or is in the process of addressing, such as allowing of more accessory dwelling units, increasing housing on Telegraph Avenue and updating the city’s affordable housing mitigation fee.

Worthington said he pushed several of the items through as separate agenda items in the hope that they would be addressed more quickly.

Originally tabled at the beginning of the meeting to be discussed at a later meeting, the Affordable Housing Action Plan was placed back onto the meeting’s action calendar after four residents during public comment requested that it be discussed.

Residents stressed the need for immediate action in order to deal with the city’s affordable housing crisis after City Council voted to waive the Housing Trust Fund loan.

“I just want to draw attention to the word ‘crisis’ because it continues to be used by members of the City Council. When we have crisis situation, it needs to be addressed … in an urgent and immediate fashion,” said Chris Yamas, ASUC housing affairs manager, during public comment.

Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, however, questioned the necessity and feasibility of the plan, noting that the Housing Trust Fund already contains $1.1 million.

“Nobody ever suggested for any of the items how they’re going to be paid for,” Capitelli said.

City Council will create a separate agenda item to add $1 million to the Housing Trust Fund on March 8. Worthington has expressed his intent to reintroduce other recommendations as individual agenda items in the future as well.

Additionally, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates emphasized that he wanted to further address the affordable housing crisis during City Council’s April 5 meeting. Bates has requested that the agenda be light so that council members can consider all the housing proposals the city is facing.

Jessica Lynn is the lead city government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jessicailynn.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly cited Councilmember Laurie Capitelli as saying that the city Housing Trust Fund had $4.8 million. In fact, the fund has $1.1 million.