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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, January 30, 2002

A long and winding road A long and winding road (January 30, 2002)

Housing element must meet expectations of City Council, state

The City Council's pending review of the housing element will culminate a long, complicated process that involved hours of staff work.

The issue came before the City Council last October, but the plan was sent back to staff for further refinement. City Manager Frank Benest said the delay actually helped matters.

"It is a better product. (It was a) good idea we fine tuned (it)," he said. "It was a good idea to better define transportation corridors and the issue of jobs/housing balance. They were legitimate issues, legitimate concerns."

Julie Caporgno, the city's advanced planning manager, said staff was under serious deadline pressure when the first element was submitted.

"One reason we were pushing it so quickly, we were under duress of meeting (the state's) Dec. 31 deadline," Caporgno said. "We contacted the state after the council meeting. (The state) recognized some communities would be unable to meet the deadline."

As a result, Palo Alto was granted an extension.

If the council approves the housing element on Feb. 4, the study will be forwarded to the state. After a 60 day review period, the state will send the study back to Palo Alto. If state officials do not comment on the study, the council should adopt the housing element by late April and send it back to the state for final ratification.

"If the state sends it back with comments, we go back and address that," Caporgno said. "We don't know if we'll be able to satisfy the state."

Benest said staff has done a solid job in revising the housing element and expected the study would satisfy the state's expectations.

The city last completed a state-mandated housing element 12 years ago. Since that time, the city completed a housing element when its Comprehensive Plan was approved in 1998. That housing element was forwarded to the state even though it was not required.

-- Geoff S. Fein


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