The Pasadena City Council on Monday unanimously voted to raise the inclusionary housing requirement for developers to set aside affordable units on all new projects.
The old requirement was a 15 percent set aside. The new requirement is to allocate 20 percent of the total number of proposed housing units for moderate- to low-income residents.
The amendments are the first changes to the city’s inclusionary housing ordinance since it was adopted in 2001.
The original ordinance applied to developments of 10 units or more and called for developers to set aside 15 percent of the proposed units as affordable for very low- and moderate-income people. Developers not wanting to set aside units can still pay an in-lieu fee which goes into the city’s own housing fund. Builders can also donate land worth the value of the fee.
In 2017, Housing Director Bill Huang told the Pasadena Weekly that the city’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance has led to the construction of about 500 housing units for low- and moderate-income renters since 2001.
The changes are designed to increase the number of affordable units in the city.
The new changes recommended by the Planning Department would eliminate trade-downs that allow developers to build fewer affordable units by equating one very low-income unit to 1.5 low-income units, or two moderate-income units.
In-lieu fees that allow developers to avoid meeting the minimums on low-income and moderate-housing will also be raised. The new fees will be established at a later date. Currently it cost developers $50,000 to opt out of building low-income units.
Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP!) called for the fee to be raised to 25 percent. On Tuesday, Ed Washatka said that although the council did not go that high, he is happy with the vote.
“I applaud the council for what they did,” Washatka said. “This is a huge win for the city and people who want affordable housing. Even though the ordinance was 15 percent, most of the time developers were giving us 10 or 11 percent and we weren’t getting the full 15 percent.”
Rents in Pasadena are among the highest in the state with many two-bedroom apartments renting above $3,000 making it almost impossible for minimum-wage workers and middle class residents to live in Pasadena, even as wages increase.
“We are in a housing crisis, this is real,” Director of Planning and Community Development David Reyes said. “We are deficient in building low-income apartments.”