Housing Claremont’s Statement on Inclusive Housing Ordinance (ISO) Revision

Leigh Anne Jones, Chair, Planning Commission
City of Claremont, 225 Second Street, Claremont, CA 91711

Dear Commissioner Jones:

The board of Housing Claremont is an advocate for an effective revision to the City of Claremont’s Inclusive Housing Ordinance (ISO) that will have a real effect on increasing the availability of affordable housing in our city. The current ISO has been ineffective both in terms of the number of units constructed and the total lack of low income unit availability. As the staff report for item 2 makes clear on page 3, since the original 2006 ISO was enacted only 46 moderate income units have been constructed and sold in Claremont. That’s an average of only 3 moderate income units per year. No low income units have been sold in this period. These results fall extremely short of the pressing need for housing in our city. The 2021-29 Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) for Claremont indicates the state has assessed 1,163 units to be planned at moderate income or below. That’s nearly 150 units per year for the next eight years. The evidence is clear: we need an ISO that will meet the dire need for affordable housing.

The staff advocates keeping the ISO rate at 15% of new projects, because above this level the state Housing and Community Development (HCD) can review city ISOs. The staff report states that this “can potentially extend and complicate the approval process” for the city’s current RHNA assessment. However, we think this should not preclude some exploration of an increased ratio and a tiered approach to affordability. For example, the city of Pasadena’s ISO is 20% of newly constructed rental units, and offers three levels of affordability: 5% of units set aside for those 50% of area median income (AMI), 5% for 80% AMI, and 10% for 120% of AMI. This approach is more inclusive and makes a larger impact on the overall availability of affordable units.

The staff proposes changing the current ISO in two main ways: shifting rental ISO requirements for housing projects from “moderate” to “low” income renters; and creating a new income category for affordable for-sale units. We agree with the staff recommendation to shift income requirements down for renters. The proposed for-sale unit “low or moderate” category would make city-designated affordable units available for purchase to anyone making 120% of our area’s median income. For a family of four in Los Angeles County, this would mean an annual income as high as $92,760 would qualify. For an income 110% of average, that would

mean qualifying for buying a three-bedroom townhome at a price of $331,700, which is $298,300 below the market price of $600,000 (see Attachment E, Table 2). While this example illustrates the terrible scale of the housing shortage and the extreme price of housing in the city, it also suggests that the new income category proposed will likely create little opportunity for those earning below median income to buy housing in Claremont.

We encourage the Planning Commission to explore ways in which Additional Dwelling Units (ADU) can be incorporated into the city’s revised ISO. Currently ADUs added to a new housing development are “deemed affordable” for purposes of the RHNA. However, there is no income requirement for renting these units and no guarantee that they will even be rented. ADUs can easily be integrated into new home construction, either within floorplans or as detached structures, and if the ISO applied to ADUs it would mean that a percentage could be offered at affordable rates. We believe ADUs represent an excellent opportunity for increasing the stock of affordable housing in areas of Claremont that are traditionally dominated by expensive single family housing.

 We hope to be a part of the conversation as the new ISO design works through your Commission and on to the City Council, so please do reach out with your own thoughts and ideas.

Zachary Courser
President, Housing Claremont

Housing Claremont’s Statement on Affordable Housing in Village South

Dear Friends,

The Board of Housing Claremont is advocating for affordable housing to be a priority in the Village South development. As an organization, we are particularly focused on Village South because it has most of the elements that make it ideal for the inclusion of affordable housing: as a transit-oriented development it has ample transportation connections to serve the needs of low-income families; its proximity to shopping, education, and employment opportunities likewise makes it very suitable for affordable housing; and its scale and density also allows for many more affordable units than low-density housing developments could.

Therefore, we are disappointed to see that affordable housing was not made a priority in Village South. Please find attached a letter we sent to the City Council asking that they demonstrate leadership on this issue, live up to our city’s values of sustainability and inclusion, and meet the demands of the housing crisis by making affordable housing a priority in the Village South.

If you agree, please consider adding your voice during the public comment period during the Tuesday, June 22nd council meeting that begins at 6:30p. You may attend via Zoom at this link: https://zoom.us/j/256208090. You can also email your comments to the city clerk, Shelley Desautels, at sdesautels@ci.claremont.ca.us.

Thank you for your support of housing in Claremont and for your consideration of this important issue.


Zach Courser
President, Housing Claremont

Housing Claremont’s Statement on Village South

Leigh Anne Jones, Chair
Planning Commission
City of Claremont
225 Second Street
Claremont, CA 91711

Dear Commissioner Jones:

Housing Claremont has been a consistent advocate for alleviating housing shortages for low and very low-income residents in our community. The Village  South development presents a rare opportunity for the city to make significant progress in doing just this. The scale of the project allows for the inclusion of a  significant number of affordable housing units, which could help meet the city’s state-mandated obligations for developing low-income housing. Therefore, we are disappointed to see that affordable housing has not made a priority in this development. While other community development values, such as historic preservation, have been well-attended in the final environmental impact study (FEIR), we find no specific or explicit reference to affordable housing being a project objective. The city contends that this development will contribute generally to meeting its 2020 Regional Housing Needs Assessment, and that its current inclusive housing ordinance is sufficient to meet affordable housing needs. We disagree. The current market is very unlikely to meet the housing needs of low income families, and the city should be making an effort beyond current policy to meet this critical need. Affordable housing should be an objective of this project, and we ask the Planning Commission to explore ways in which the city can commit to this goal.

We are particularly focused on the Village South development because it has most of the elements that make it ideal for the inclusion of affordable housing. As a transit-oriented development, it has ample transportation connections to serve the needs of low-income families. Its proximity to shopping, education, and employment opportunities likewise makes it very suitable for affordable housing. Its scale and density also allow for many more affordable units than low-density housing developments could.

We have been a consistent advocate for affordable housing in the Village South development, but we do not see it as a project objective in the FEIR. In our February 2020 letter to then-Mayor Larry Schroeder, we asked that in the “Village South Environmental Impact Report, the city should keep foremost in their deliberations how this particular site can be a key to meeting our obligations for building low and very low income housing.” In May 2020 we built a coalition with Sustainable Claremont and Inclusive Claremont to advocate for Village South Specific Plan to contain sufficient scale and density to allow for a more sustainable development. Our particular concern in doing so, of course, was making inclusion of affordable housing a project objective. We were gratified to see the outpouring of community support for our petition, and the City Council voting unanimously in favor of sufficient density. However, we are disappointed that the current FEIR doesn’t rise above current policy in making affordable housing a project objective.

We feel there is still time to make affordable housing a priority in Village South, and that failing to do so would be missing a rare opportunity. Few projects like Village South, which has nearly all the elements necessary to support affordable housing, are possible in the city. Simply doing the minimum isn’t doing enough. We ask that Commissioners explore concrete ways in which the city can live up to its values of sustainability and inclusion by making affordable housing an objective of the Village South development.

Zachary Courser
President, Housing Claremont


Housing Claremont’s Statement on The Commons

the Commons Claremont
the Commons Claremont

May 2021

Housing and Homelessness Collaborative of Claremont (Housing Claremont) works to educate, advocate, and connect Claremont on issues that impact our neighbors struggling with housing affordability and homelessness.

On May 11, the City Council will make a final decision on appeals submitted by Clare Properties, LLC regarding a development known as The Commons. Like most housing developments in our city, it’s become a divisive project. Councilmembers must assess the limits and reach of LA County’s Airport Land Use Compatibility plan and the California Aeronautics Act, as well as weigh the risks and rewards of building much-needed housing near Cable airport. Few would envy City Council for the decision before them, as there are passionate arguments on both sides.

In an effort to simplify the arguments, Housing Claremont offers the following: Claremont cannot kick the can down the road when it comes to improving the affordability of our city. The Commons is an imperfect site to be sure, yet the urgency of the local housing crisis is extreme. If not now, when?

This is an unprecedented opportunity and the first time in Claremont’s history that a for-profit developer has made a commitment to low-income affordability as part of its inclusionary housing requirement. With so few suitable sites available for new housing in Claremont, and opportunities for affordable housing so vanishingly rare, the value of The Commons must not be underestimated.

Claremont has a legal and moral obligation to meet State Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) targets, and we are woefully behind. In total, Claremont is obligated to add 1,707 new housing units as part of our Housing Element; 1,160 are meant to be affordable for very low (554), low (309), and moderate (297) income households. How many units are in the current pipeline with an expressed commitment to affordability? A mere 34, most of which are for moderate-income households in the Colby Circle and Old School House developments. The Commons will not solve our affordability crisis, but it will help, and we cannot afford to let these opportunities pass.

Any increase in housing stock moves the needle on the local housing market, and The Commons would add 62 new single family homes, town homes, and flats suitable for many different types of households. Importantly, it would put homeownership within reach for six moderate income Claremont households and four low-income households. The City Council heard from several of our neighbors who would welcome this life-changing opportunity despite the limits of the location. The voices of those whom these decisions impact most must be central to the City Council’s difficult decision-making.

Recognizing the trade-offs, Housing Claremont supports The Commons because it aligns with our mission and represents the hard choices we must make to meet the challenge of our local housing crisis.