Grover Beach responds to grand jury report on affordable housing



Housing, or the lack thereof, is likely to be a central topic in Grover Beach for the next several months.

At a meeting on Aug. 20, the Grover Beach City Council discussed and approved the city's official response to a San Luis Obispo County grand jury report on the lack of affordable housing in the area. City staff say much of the report's contents will be addressed in Grover Beach's updated housing element, which is in the works and expected to be completed by December 2020.

"The grand jury report corroborated many of the key trends and issues with providing affordable housing in our region and community," Grover Beach City Manager Matthew Bronson said.

The report, which was released on June 20, identifies a number of challenges that residents earning low and moderate wages face when attempting to find housing in SLO County—there isn't enough, and what does exist is too expensive.

In Grover Beach's response to the report, the city acknowledged that the increasing need for housing is a major issue, one that Bronson said the city is already working to address in a variety of ways. That effort, he said, includes some of the recommendations provided by the jury.

Grover Beach has already streamlined its building and planning permit approval process to ensure that developers aren't being discouraged from building. According to Bronson's staff report, the city's building and planning reviews have taken no more than 15 days on average since January 2018.

The city has also already posted its housing element and annual updates online, and in its response to the report, the city disagreed with the grand jury's finding that those documents are difficult for the public to access. Still, the city added those documents to a more visible part of its website on July 31.

Some of the other recommendations will require more time, effort, and direction from City Council, Bronson said.

While the grand jury suggested in its report that SLO County cities should promote rentals for families earning low wages by making their inclusionary housing ordinances more stringent, Grover Beach doesn't have such an ordinance at all.

Inclusionary housing, which requires developers to build and offer a certain number of affordable units per development, will be a topic of discussion at the Sept. 3 City Council meeting, when the city will discuss the region's lack of affordable housing and possible solutions.

Bronson said it's a complex problem that needs multi-pronged solutions.

"Cities don't build housing," Bronson told New Times. "We create the right environment and process for housing to be built by private developers and nonprofit agencies." Δ

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