Planning Commission Delays Action on Condo Ordinance By Richard Brenneman

Friday February 24, 2006

Planning commissioners Wednesday voted to delay extending a provision of the city’s condominium ordinance setting cost levels for mandated “inclusionary” units. 

Those units, required by state and city law, are designed to make housing affordable to those who might not otherwise be able to buy a residence. 

The previous requirement that units be made affordable to would-be buyers making 120 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) expired on Feb. 19, along with four other provisions in the ordinance. 

Developer Aran Kaufer asked commissioners to extend the provision, saying that a project the commission approved that same evening at 2700 San Pablo Ave. couldn’t have been built had the law mandated the units be affordable to those making less. 

But Housing Advisory Commissioner Jesse Arreguin and Rent Stabilization Board member Jason Overman urged that the units be priced so they are affordable at 80 percent of AMI. 

Zoning Adjustments Board member Andy Katz, speaking as a private citizen, made the same plea. 

The three argued that only by lowering the affordability could the city ensure that homeownership was more broadly available to working people.  

Commissioners voted to make permanent the other provisions of the law which had expired because of sunset provisions, but voted to hold off on setting the income level to allow the Housing Advisory Commission time to make recommendations and give city staff an opportunity to comment. 

The commission also approved the condominium map for the 2700 San Pablo Ave. project, which features 30 resident units, four ground floor live/work spaces and a small commercial unit. 

Commissioners elected Vice Chair Helen Burke to step up the position of chair, as Harry Pollack’s term at the helm ended. David Stoloff was elected to fill Burke’s former slot..