Another Big Give-Away to FivePoint?
FivePoint appears to be taking advantage of a loophole in the General Plan intended to provide more affordable housing. How? By asking our City Council to reclassify 1,056 “affordable homes” to “affordable” and “additive”. Let us explain.
The loophole is found in the General Plan Land Use element for classifying certain new development. By changing the classification of “affordable” units as also “additive”, FivePoint would be allowed to build a corresponding number (1,056) of additional market rate units (see “Additive Housing” below). This would change the total of residential units in the Great Park Neighborhoods from 9,500 to 10,556 units.
FivePoint is requesting that the City retroactively reclassify 1,056 affordable housing units in the Great Park Neighborhood Master Plan from “affordable” to “affordable” and “additive”.
Our City has never before approved retroactive reclassification.
Note: FivePoint is not requesting to build more affordable housing in the Great Park. The number of affordable housing units will remain unchanged.
The Great Park neighborhood was approved for a total of 9,500 units, which includes 1,056 affordable housing units, which FivePoint was required to build (see “Inclusionary Zoning” below). In exchange for providing these affordable units, FivePoint was entitled to build more market rate units in the Great Park (see “Density Bonus Allowance” below), even though the increased density exceeded the local zoning standards. This Density Bonus Allowance enabled FivePoint to build an additional 2,463 market rate units.
FivePoint’s request for more market rate housing
does not meet the criteria for additive housing usage under the General Plan.
FivePoint has already taken full advantage of the Inclusionary Zoning and Density Bonus incentives but now wants to build even more housing by requesting that the City Council take discretionary action and increase the Great Park neighborhood project density even further. This is now FivePoint’s fourth amendment request.
Ultimately, the City Council will decide if it is in the City’s best interest to further exceed
the maximum housing unit cap in the Great Park Neighborhoods.
The City received a letter from FivePoint requesting this reclassification back in April 2018. The City has known about this request for almost a year but to date, there has been minimal public discussion.
The use of “additive” was intended to balance a planning area to make sure there were enough institutional uses to support the surrounding land use (ie: schools, churches, daycares, affordable housing). It was not intended to increase market rate housing. That interpretation could change after this week.
Let’s see what the Commissions have to say.
- The Transportation Commission (Tues, 3/5 at 5:30pm) will review the traffic evaluation submitted but should request a very thorough traffic analysis as there was none provided by FivePoint.
- The Planning Commission (Thurs, 3/7 at 5:30pm) will determine whether increasing the number of units in the Great Park neighborhood meets the criteria stated in the General Plan for infrastructure capacity, environmental concerns, fire, police, water, schools, flood control services, etc.
Tools to Increase Affordable Housing in Irvine:
Here are three tools used to increase the production of affordable housing in Irvine.
- Additive Housing: The “Additive” policy is a term found in both the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance. An additive determination is typically made during the initial approval process and not retroactive. This policy is intended to balance a planning area to make sure there are enough institutional uses to support the surrounding land use. Since its creation, non-residential additive intensity has been approved in Irvine (ie: 4 places of worship, 2 private schools, 2 community centers) and several not-for-profit housing development.
- Inclusionary Zoning: This is a mandatory local zoning requirement. It is a city ordinance that helps increase our affordable housing production. Irvine is one of several cities in Orange County (Brea, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano) that has inclusionary zoning. Irvine mandates 15% of all newly constructed for-sale or for-rent residential units be made available to households of very low, low, and moderate income. This requirement is regardless of the development size. Projects with 50+ units are required to build units on-site versus in-lieu fees. Affordable housing units are built concurrently with market rate. The city estimates this inclusionary zoning has resulted in the production of over 2,000 affordable units since its start in 2004 and the policy requires units to remain affordable for at least 30 years.
- Density Bonus Allowance: This is a mandatory State law. It grants developers of residential projects that include affordable or senior housing relief. It’s basically an offset. The developer is entitled to an increase in the number of market rate units to be built, even if the increased “density” would otherwise exceed the local zoning standards. This is in exchange for producing affordable and/or senior housing. The developer receives incentives (flexibility in development standards) in order to facilitate the economic feasibility of the project. Developments in the Great Park Neighborhood and the Irvine Business Complex used this tool.