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County, cities propose regional growth numbers

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From page A1 | November 13, 2012 | Leave Comment

FAIRFIELD — Solano County and its seven cities have divvied up the 6,977 new homes they must provide space for by 2022 under state-mandated housing allocations, with Fairfield getting the lion’s share.

Fairfield under the proposal would provide space for 3,150 of the homes, potentially making it Solano County’s growth hot spot for the coming eight years. Vallejo would take 1,362, Vacaville 1,084, Suisun City 455, Benicia 327, Rio Vista 299, Dixon 197 and rural Solano County 103.

The proposed Fairfield allocation of 3,150 comes as the city is planning its 6,800-residence train station community for development over the coming couple of decades.

“We can live with it,” Fairfield Community Development Director Erin Beavers said. “I’ll be able to tell the City Council we’ll be able to meet it and it’s not an unreasonable number for us to meet.”

California since 1980 has required each community to shoulder what is considered its fair share of future housing growth. The state Department of Housing and Community Development assigns a number for each region. For the 2014-2022 round, it told the Association of Bay Area Governments that the nine-county Bay Area must make room for 187,990 residences.

There are some new wrinkles with this latest housing allocation round. The state in 2008 passed laws designed to combat climate change and cut back on greenhouse gases. These laws encourage development near mass transit centers.

The Association of Bay Area Governments has been working on its One Bay Area plan to meet the state global warming laws. One Bay Area and the state housing allocation must at some point converge. That is one reason such places as Fairfield’s train station community and Vallejo’s waterfront near the ferry are considered growth hot spots in Solano County.

Another change is that the Association of Bay Area Governments is no longer simply telling communities how many homes they must take. It is allowing counties such as Solano County to take the overall number for the county and have a voice in how that number gets divided among each city.

Solano County and its cities decided to exercise this option. They have done so through the Cities-County Coordinating Committee, which is made up of the county Board of Supervisors and the seven mayors.

The result could have been each city fighting to have the other take a bigger allotment. But county Principal Planner Matt Walsh said this hasn’t happened.

“I think we’ve done a good job of working together and acknowledging where we are locally and who can accommodate housing and how much housing,” Walsh said.

A tougher issue for Fairfield than that overall 3,150-home number is that a certain percentage must meet various affordable housing requirement, Beavers said. Redevelopment agencies were a big tool for affordable housing, he said.

California dissolved redevelopment agencies, including Fairfield’s, in February in part to help with its own budget needs.

Rural Solano County has long had a challenge meeting the state housing allocations because most growth in the county gets funneled to cities. Walsh said the rural county can meet the 103 number, with the low-income component the difficulty because the rural county doesn’t have such services as sewer. The county will rely on such things a secondary living units to meet the affordability numbers, he said.

The Association of Bay Area Governments is to have the final word on the proposed regional and county housing allocations in May 2013.

Solano County and its cities for the 1999-2006 housing allocation round were assigned more than 18,000 residences and for the 2007-14 round more than 12,000. The number has been cut to 6,977 this round in part because the Association of Bay Area Governments under state global warming laws wants to encourage more growth in the core Bay Area, closer to region’s job centers.

People can comment on the proposal through Dec. 17. Comments should go to county Principal Planner Matt Walsh at MWalsh@solanocounty.com or 675 Texas St. Suite 500, Fairfield, CA 94533.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
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