Hermosa Beach Council complies with state demand for 558 new residential units by 2029
by Dan Blackburn
An amendment to the city’s housing plan, to accommodate creation of 558 new residential units in Hermosa Beach By 2029, was unanimously adopted Tuesday by the Hermosa Beach City Council during a meeting continued from Dec. 14.
The amendment is an effort by city officials to conform local housing practices to state requirements, which seeks to address housing shortages, statewide. The amended plan now returns for its second analysis by the California Department of Housing and Community (HCD)
California lawmakers have responded to the housing shortage by requiring each city to adopt land use plans that “create opportunities” for adequate future development. Hermosa’s allocation calls for creation of 558 new residential units by 2029.
A major impediment to satisfying the state mandate, according to John Douglas, a consultant overseeing Hemrosa’s effort, is that Hermosa is “built out,” its entire land area already is developed. The city’s General Plan has a 25-year life, but the state requires housing needs to be updated every eight years.
Douglas called the amendment “a milestone” in the city’s ongoing effort to “provide adequate housing for its residents.”
In 2019, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) determined that more than 1.3 million housing units are needed in the Southern California region, which includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties. Each of the state’s 482 cities has been allocated a specific number of housing units needed to provide the opportunity for additional affordable housing between now and 2029.
That “need” is based primarily on population growth trends and existing housing problems such as overcrowding and overpayment.
Councilmember Mary Campbell worried that citizen involvement in the discussions has been inadequate.
“Do we need to do more to educate” city residents? she asked. “This is a very complex issue.”
Local business owner Laura Pena said she shared the concern that people are paying too little attention to the matter.
“I noticed only 25 people responded to an opinion survey by the city seeking resident perspectives.”
Resident John Davis told the council, “It’s very important that we keep our flexibility. At the end of the day. economic vibrancy is about putting feet on the street and I really don’t want to. see the housing element interfere with that.”
Matt McCool criticized the state’s “cookie cutter” approach to the housing shortage.
“Nobody here has talked about the number of cities that have challenged the state on this,” he said.
Acting City Attorney Patrick Donegan said if the city ignored the state’s mandate, “it is likely the city would get sued. I know that the process is very contentious.”
Councilman Ray Jackson summarized the discussion this way: “At some time, you know, we have to cede to the higher authority in Sacramento.” He also counseled against litigation as carrying “too much risk.”
In other business, the council approved minor “text amendments” in its previously submitted ordinance complying with a new state law, SB9. That law allows division of single lots of at least 2,400 square feet.
The council approved two separate ordinances, one an emergency ordinance to take effect immediately to meet an end-of-the-year deadline; and another with similar wording to take effect Jan. 1.
Ken Robertson, the city’s community development director, said, “We did the best we could before the end of the year.”
Again, council members complained that citizen involvement in ongoing discussions on the matter has been muted.
Officials now wait to learn if their efforts to comply with requirements of SB9 have been adequate. ER