Extend ban on residential rent increases through September 30; inadequate county housing policy fuels crisis
By Daniel Borsuk
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to extend the prohibition on residential evictions and rent increases through September 30 even though a driving factor for the county’s housing crisis can be linked to the county’s preference to permit the construction of more high-income housing than low-and-moderate-income housing.
While supervisors heard citizens make requests that the rental moratorium be extended through December 30, supervisors resisted those pleas and preferred that extension go through September 30.
“If another extension is needed after September 30, we can then take it up at that time,” said District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff.
The action the supervisors took on Tuesday marks the fourth rental moratorium that the elected officials have passed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2019.
“The trouble is we already have a blanket moratorium on any rent increase,” said District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen. “I don’t want to go through this again at the end of the year.”
Approve Housing Needs Allocation
But supervisors did not publicly comment on an approved consent item that reflects the county’s longstanding preference to have far more above moderate-income housing units – 3,147 units – constructed in the unincorporated areas of the county from 2023 to 2031, according to the recently released Association of Bay Area Government’s (ABAG’s) Final Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).
The ABAG RHNA item was passed as a supervisor’s consent item and was not publicly discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.
RHNA also shows Contra Costa County is designated to permit 2,082 very low-income housing units, 1,199 low-income units, and 1,217 moderate income units from 2023 to 2031.
Conservation and Development Department Director John Kopchick said the county will appeal ABAG’s RHNA findings on grounds the Draft Allocation is 5.59 times as high as the county’s allocation for the prior period (which was 1,367).
“As of the end of 2020 the County had issued building permits for 1,881 new housing units,” Kopchick wrote in a memo to the supervisors. “While we have met the overall allocation for the 2015-2023 period, we have so far met only 16% of the allocation for very-low income and 53% of the allocation for moderate income. Staff is concerned that an allocation that significant change is likely not achievable.”
Kopchick added, “The increase in the county’s allocation from prior cycle is larger than the increase for the Bay Area as a whole (5.59 times higher for the county versus 2.35 times for the region as a whole). In the view of staff, the amount of the increase relative to the region may not be equitable. The county’s draft allocation is almost 2,000 units higher than the largest allocation for any city in the county. The county’s allocation is the second highest allocation for a county in the Bay Area (only San Francisco is higher) and is the ninth highest among the 110 jurisdictions in the Bay Area.”
The county has until the July 9th deadline to submit an appeal of the Draft Allocation. ABAG will conduct public hearings in September and October on the RHNA appeal. ABAG will act on the final RHNA in January 2023.
Other Board Action
Among consent items supervisors approved were:
- Sanjiv Bhandari of Alamo was appointed to a (District 2 – Supervisor Candace Anderson) four-year term to the Contra Costa County Planning Commission. Bhandari is president and chief executive officer of BK BC Architects, Inc. of Walnut Creek.
- Discovery Bay resident Bob Mankin was reappointed to the District 3 seat on the Contra Costa County Planning Commission. Recommended by Board Chair Diane Burgis, he will serve a four-year term.
- A $100,000 contract with Loomis Armored US, LLC for armored cash transportation services for the County Treasurer-Tax Collector for the period July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2024 with two possible one-year extensions. This marks the first time that the County Treasurer-Tax Collector has used another vendor for armored courier services to transport cash/check deposits because over the past several years, the County Treasurer’s Office became “increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of service provided by that vendor….”
- Authorized Sheriff-Coroner David O. Livingston to applied and accept the United States Department of Justice Programs, DNA Program Backlog Reduction Grant in an initial amount of $250,000. This grant will reduce the number of backlogged DNA tests in the Sheriff’s Criminalistics Laboratory for the period of Jan. 1, 2022 through the end of the grant period.
- An update on the formation of permanent regulations for the cultivation of industrial hemp will be presented to the board of supervisors by June 30. Kopchik said a draft ordinance is scheduled to be considered by the County Planning Commission at a public hearing on June 23. Subject to the Planning Commission’s review of the draft zoning ordinance, staff expects that it will present both draft ordinances to the board of supervisors in July or August.
Supervisors Select September 14 to Resume In-Person Sessions
Supervisors set Tuesday Sept. 14 as their first in-person session meeting to be conducted in the new David Twa Public Administration Building in Martinez.
At a price tag of $60 million, the new building with 72,000 square feet will be open to the public with COVID-19 public health safeguards in place, in other words face masks if required.
Supervisors also promoted the hybrid meetings with both in-person and virtual or telephonic public comments.