Affordable Housing - Yeah, Right!
DIGGING THROUGH THE DETAILS
However, since I've already done that, I'll share some of the interesting numbers for Costa Mesa and Newport Beach with you. In SCAG's report entitled "Final Regional Housing Need Allocation Plan - Planning Period (January 1, 2006 - June 30, 2014), it presents their requirements for additional housing units through their fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. The big news locally, which was covered by an article in the Orange County Register, here, is that the City of Irvine must absorb almost half of Orange County's 82,332 total new housing units mandated over the next seven years. Of that total of 35,322, more than 21,000 must be "affordable" - available to very low, low and moderate income households. Irvine officials have freaked out with these numbers, claiming a lack of land. Kind of makes me smile just a little.
BUILT OUT, ARE WE?
Closer to home, Costa Mesa has been mandated to provide 1682 new housing units, of which 972 must be either very low, low or moderate income units. Newport Beach will be required to provide 1784 new housing units, of which 1076 must be very low, low or moderate income units.
For us Costa Mesans this presents an interesting dilemma. By all accounts, we are upside-down in rental versus owner occupied housing. The last number I heard was 60% rental, 40% owner occupied. Typically, very low income and low income housing units mean rental units. I'm informed by city staff that, as far as the 710 market rate units are concerned, we seem to have that covered and more. The Enclave, which will be built by Irvine Apartment Communities in the bean field near the Performing Arts Center, will account for more than 800 units alone.
MOVE OVER, ROVER
However, that doesn't address the folks at the other end of the spectrum - the low and very low income folks for which we will be required to plan for over the next seven years. If the rhetoric we've been hearing for the past few years - spurred on by those folks who identify themselves as "improvers" - is any indication, there seems to be little interest in providing housing for folks at the low end of the economic ladder. Quite the contrary, most of the ambient noise we hear these days seems to be about bulldozing many of the apartment units that very likely provide that kind of housing specifically.
The Costa Mesa planners will have their work cut out for them, as they attempt to meet the mandate and still follow the direction of a council intent in turning Costa Mesa into Newport Beach or, at least, Huntington Beach. There are a few folks in our town who, when they hear the words "affordable housing", apparently instantly see slums in their minds eye. They exercise a lot of influence over the council majority, so it will be very interesting to see what tack they take on this subject.
LOOK HONEY, A PLACE FOR THE KIDS!
I thought it was quite ironic that Newport Beach has been earmarked to provide even greater numbers of very low and low income units. I find myself wondering just how they're going to pull that off, since the average home value in that city is at least four times that of Costa Mesa. Maybe they can turn the entire Banning Ranch into an affordable housing enclave.