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September 2, 2009 > Newark Housing Element update meeting

Newark Housing Element update meeting

By Meenu Gupta
Photos By Courtesy of city's website

City of Newark residents gathered at a community meeting to discuss the City's housing element on August 27.

"There are no specific projects proposed at this time. The housing element is part of our general plan," clarified Community Development Director Terrence Grindall.

Planning consultant Karen Kristiansson, who is working on Newark's Housing Element update, gave a slide presentation. The Housing Element is required by State law. It allows the city to plan, long-term, for future housing, for infill locations and mixed use.

"We tried to look at the connections between the sites and the existing development around it. We tried to use infill locations, vacant, under-utilized locations and major development areas, viz. Areas 2, 3 and 4," said Kristiansson.

Newark must identify sites to prove that it can fulfill its share of regional housing needs allocation (RHNA). Sites need to accommodate a range of housing types at different densities. Newark must also identify sites that should have been included during the previous housing element-update cycle.

The City's total housing needs allocation for 2007-2014 is 611 high-density units (25 or more units per acre), 338 medium-density units (15 to 24 units per acre) and 806 low-density units. Criteria to identify sites for housing are sensitive to the interface between established, single-family, residential areas and new, higher-density developments - use infill locations, including vacant or under-utilized commercial or public property, and major development areas such as Areas 2, 3 and 4 and avoid concentrating higher density housing in a single part of the City.

Housing Elements are certified by the State of California which sets certain requirements like the need to analyze housing issues, to plan for households of all income levels and to plan for people with special needs and people with disabilities.

The picture on the right shows proposed housing sites. A is Ruschin Site which has been accessed by the school district.

"We are looking at removing this site from the housing element," said Grindall.

Site B is Newark Junior High. It has a stadium which the school district does not utilize. The pink letters means it is a longer-term project, not within this housing element.

"We heard some significant concerns about that site, so at this point we are considering its removal from the housing element," he said.

Site C consists of two parcels along Newark Blvd earmarked for low-density residential. Site D is the location of the school district's administrative offices. There has been discussion of a new office facility at another location. This site is also designated potentially for low-density housing. Site E is the gas station for which medium-density residential has been proposed. Site F is the old town shopping center, a potential site for a longer-term, mixed-use project. Site G is the City Hall site.

"This site is ideal for higher-density housing. It's only a concept right now" clarified Grindall.

Site H is zoned for medium-density residential. Site I is zoned for two- or three-story residential development. Site J is zoned for residential and commercial uses. Site K is proposed for mixed housing. Site L represents scattered vacant parcels in the Old Town to be developed to the same density as the surrounding area. Site M is a potential medium-density development opportunity. Site O is also a longer-term potential project. Site P is proposed for low-density residential. Site Q is proposed for conversion to medium-density residential. Site R could potentially be replaced with higher-density housing.

Areas 3 and 4 are longer-term projects and will provide a lot of the housing required by the State. Area 2 is proposed for transit-oriented development including housing.

"We'll try to finalize the plan and must work with the State to do so. We expect to achieve that in November and then bring it to the Planning Commission for a public hearing before bringing it before the City Council probably in early December for another public hearing and formal approval," said Grindall.

For more information about the housing element update, visit www.newark.org or contact Terrence Grindall at 510 578 4208.

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