In order to address the housing affordability crisis in Fullerton, City Council voted 3-2 (Whitaker and Dunlap “no”) at their July 5 meeting to direct staff to bring back more information about creating an inclusionary housing ordinance, a policy tool that requires or encourages private developers to include a percentage of below market rate affordable units, create off-site affordable units, or to pay a fee.
According to a staff report, “Inclusionary Zoning works to capture some of the value of rising real estate prices to provide community benefits by using local land use controls to ensure that developers produce needed affordable housing units along with market rate units and that the City utilizes the limited supply of developable land in a way that serves households at all income levels.”
Cities have options for how their inclusionary housing ordinance could be tailored. The staff report recommended hiring a consultant to help determine which kind of program would work best for Fullerton and do a fiscal analysis of the proposed program.
Orange County cities that have Inclusionary Housing Ordinances include Brea, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, Santa Ana, and San Clemente. Each city created their program to meet the needs of the community.
During public comment, a few residents spoke in favor of Fullerton adopting an inclusionary housing ordinance.
Jane Reifer of Friends for a Livable Fullerton pointed out that the Planning Commission voted unanimously to support inclusionary housing as a way to meet Fullerton’s affordable housing goals, as outlined in the City’s Housing Element and the Regional Housing Needs Assessment. Reifer said that inclusionary housing won’t solve the problem, but it will help substantially. She said that many developers have told her that they would go along with inclusionary housing if Fullerton required it.
Joshua Ferguson said the City should not spend money on a consultant, and that City staff should be able to do the necessary research and preparations.
City Councilmember Ahmad Zahra said he also opposed spending money on a consultant at this point and that he would like more information, specifically a comparison chart showing other cities’ inclusionary housing ordinances.
Councilmember Jesus Silva made a motion for staff to bring back more information at a future meeting, including the comparison chart that Zahra requested.
Silva said that he too has spoken to many developers who have said they would go along with an inclusionary housing ordinance–that they just need to know so they can factor it into their plans.
Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Whitaker spoke against an inclusionary housing ordinance, arguing that it can lead to reduced parking requirements, increased density, and can increased market rates.
“Rather than creating an ironclad policy, you’re much better off to work with incentives if you’re going to look at individual projects. You’re able to tailor that rather than making a broad stroke policy that affects all corners of our City,” Whitaker said.
Councilmember Nick Dunlap also spoke against an inclusionary housing ordinance, calling such policies “draconian in nature” and “forced mandates.”
Mayor Fred Jung supported the motion to bring back more information.
“I’d like to see this in some form, see how it pencils out and what it looks like,” Jung said.
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