Article Features

Spotlight on Housing

California’s serious shortage of affordable housing located close to jobs affects residents and cities throughout the state.One of the League’s continuing goals is to work for expanded housing supply and affordability, consistent with “smart growth” and environmental principles. The League has worked with builders, environmentalists and other groups on achieving these goals and actively shares information about housing.

This is a brief summary of all housing articles published by the League in 2006 through its monthly housing newsletter Focus on Housing and Western City magazine. The articles are available on the League website at

Focus on Housing is a free monthly electronic newsletter; to subscribe, visit For more information on Western City and to view past articles, visit

Housing Resource Center Offers More Resources

The Housing Resource Center (HRC) is an online hub established by the League of California Cities’ and California State Association of Counties’ (CSAC) nonprofit research arm, the Institute for Local Government. It is an excellent source for housing information. Developed in 2005, the HRC covers topics including density, housing elements, housing trusts, inclusionary housing, infill, mixed use, preserving existing housing, redevelopment, second units, neighborhood acceptance, farmworker housing and homelessness.

Focus on Housing Interviews

January: An Interview With California’s Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman — Discusses state housing and open space preservation strategies. 

April: An Interview With Assembly Member Lois Wolk — The chair of the Assembly Water Parks and Wildlife Committee examines flood protection issues in California. 

May: An Interview With HCD Director Lynn Jacobs — The newly appointed director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development describes her background and goals for the department. 

June: An Interview With Jim Madaffer — Discusses the lessons learned from the work of the joint League of California Cities-Homebuilders Housing/General Plan Task Force. 

August: An Interview With Assembly Member Simón Salinas — Explains his passion for local government and his housing goals for Monterey County as he becomes a county supervisor in 2007. 

December: An Interview With Irvine Mayor Beth Krom — A discussion of Irvine’s affordable housing efforts that led to the city being named one of the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing’s “Advocates of the Year.” 

Focus on Housing Feature Articles 

January: Local Official Discovers Error That Leads to Millions for Affordable Housing by Bill Higgins — A posting error discovered by Jeffrey Levin, housing policy and programs coordinator for the City of Oakland, led to millions of additional tax credit dollars being available for California’s affordable housing projects. 

February: Manufactured Homes: Part of California’s Affordable Housing Solution? by Brian Heaton — An in-depth look at whether manufactured housing can be a viable option for affordable housing in California. 

February: Housing Slowdown Will Do Little for Affordable Housing by Bill Higgins — Examines the state’s housing slowdown and its impact (or lack thereof) on affordable housing. 

March: “Housing First” Programs Focus on Permanent Housing for the Homeless by Bill Higgins— Presents the basic facts about “Housing First,” a methodology based on the belief that vulnerable and at-risk homeless families are more responsive to interventions and social services support after they are in their own housing, rather than while living in temporary/transitional facilities or housing programs, and how it is catching on in California. 

March: What Makes a World-Class City? by Diane Spaulding — Describes the relationship between affordable housing and the amenities that make a world-class city. 

April: League Sponsors Housing Legislative Package — An overview of the housing/land use legislative package that the League sponsored in 2006. 

May: Neighborhood Acceptance: Developers Weigh In on Community Experiences by Brian Heaton — Developers discuss the challenges of building affordable housing communities in neighborhoods aligned against it. 

May: Managing Local Opposition to Affordable Housing by Tim Iglesias — Strategies for developers and cities on how to handle resistance to affordable housing projects. 

June: Cotati’s New Jobs-Housing Linkage Program: “Another Tool in the Toolbox” for Affordable Housing Growth and Healthy Cities by Sabrina Ross — The story behind the development of Cotati’s jobs-housing linkage pro-   gram and how it is influencing similar programs in California.

June: The Legal Tightrope of Local Preferences by Heather Gould — An examination of providing housing preference and the legal issues and impacts surrounding it.

July: Affordable Housing: Think Locally, Act Regionally (Part I) by Steve Sanders — Part one of a two-part series that explains what regional agencies are doing to help in the statewide affordable housing crisis. 

August: Affordable Housing: Think Locally, Act Regionally (Part II) by Steve Sanders — The second installment of a two-part series on regional efforts to encourage affordable housing in California. 

August: Proposition 1C: Critical Investment in California Housing — A summary of Prop. 1C, the $2.85 bil-lion bond measure on the November 2006 ballot. 

September: Prop. 90: A Serious Threat to New Housing — A description of Prop. 90, the “taxpayer trap” measure on the November 2006 ballot, and how its passage could cripple local efforts to ensure that there is adequate housing for all working families. 

September: Statewide Housing Crisis Requires Local Solutions by Mark Mazzaferro — Coverage of “State and Local Perspectives on Housing,” a session at the League of California Cities’ 108th Annual Conference in San Diego on Sept. 6, 2006. 

September: Housing Trusts – Another Tool in the Affordable Housing Toolbox by Steve Sanders —Examines the benefits of housing trusts in the fight to build more affordable homes throughout California. 

October: Design Is Key to Community Acceptance of Affordable Housing by Steve Sanders — Discusses how home design is a vital component to overcoming negative stereotypes regarding affordable housing construction. 

October: That’s a (Legislative) Wrap by Bill Higgins — A roundup of 2006’s housing and noteworthy land use bills monitored by the League. 

November: Voters Pass Housing, Infrastructure Bond Measures — A recap of the successful bond measures on the November 2006 ballot, including Prop. 1C, which allocates $2.85 billion in affordable housing funds. 

November: Linking New Jobs With New Housing Opportunities: A Look at Linkage Fees by Steve Sanders — Examples of linkage fees throughout California and their positive impact on raising funds for affordable housing. 

November: First-Time Homebuyer Program Leads to New Homes for Clovis Families by Tina Sumner — One of Clovis’ housing project managers discusses the city’s first-time homebuyer program and its success. 

December: Keeping Housing Lawsuits at Bay – Five Ways Local Governments Can Improve Their Land Use Decisions by Steve Sanders — A rundown of ways local governments can reduce the potential of litigation over land use issues. 

December: Keeping Up: Dan Curtin (1933-2006) — A look back at and tribute to land use and planning expert Dan Curtin, who passed away in late 2006. 

Focus on Housing Success Stories 

January: Glendale Partners With Habitat for Humanity to Create Affordable Housing — A partnership led to four environmentally friendly affordable homes being built in Glendale.

February: Santa Barbara Turns Blighted Area Into Affordable Homes — Once a blighted area that attracted gang activity, the Paseo Voluntario development in Santa Barbara is now a 27-unit affordable infill housing development.

March: Hillside Village Providing Homes for Low-Income Families in Poway — A vacant lot has been converted into Hillside Village, a 71-unit affordable apartment community for low-income families and seniors.  

April: Blighted West Oakland Neighborhood Transformed Into Vibrant Community — A run-down area of West Oakland was revitalized into an award-winning, 168-unit affordable apartment community that stands as a gateway to the neighborhood. 

May: Underused Infill Site Converted Into Affordable Senior Housing (Gateway Santa Clara) — A small infill area is transformed into affordable housing for Santa Clara seniors. 

June: Blighted Property Transformed Into Vibrant Affordable Housing Development (City Heights Metro Villas) — A neglected property in San Diego has been converted into Metro Villas, a development of affordable housing and services for low-income families living in the City Heights community. 

July: Willow Gardens Gets a Facelift in South San Francisco — A poorly designed, 40-year-old apartment complex was redeveloped into a pedestrian-friendly environment with newly remodeled affordable housing units for very low income families. 

August: Dumping Ground Revitalized Into Pristine Affordable Housing in South San Diego — An oddly shaped, triangular parcel used as a dump and crude play area for kids has given way to Beyer Courtyards, a 60-unit community of affordable apartments in South San Diego County’s San Ysidro. 

September: San Leandro Meets Community Need With Affordable Senior Housing — A blighted site that once contained an auto dealership was transformed into Broadmoor Plaza, a 60-unit affordable apartment community for very low-income seniors in San Leandro. 

October: Rancho Buena Vista Apartments: First Affordable Housing Development in Chula Vista’s Eastlake Community — How an empty, underutilized lot was used to build 150 apartmentsfor low-income residents and families. 

October: Combining Aesthetics and Special Needs: The Story of Villa Har-vey Mandel — An affordable housing complex for the elderly, disabled and those with mental illness rises from a blighted area in San Diego. 

November: Hotchkiss Terrace Provides Housing for Low-Income Senior Citizens — The story of an underused infill site and how it was transformed into affordable apartment homes for the elder residents of Clovis. 

December: Petaluma Revitalizes Washington Street With Affordable Housing/Mixed-Use Project — A summary of Eden Housing’s work to redevelop Washington Street in Petaluma, turning a dump site into a thriving community. 

Western City Housing Articles 

March: California Housing Finance Agency’s HELP Boosts Affordable Housing by Amanda Rose — Discusses CalHFA’s HELP program and the approximately $10 million in low-interest loans that will be available to California cities for affordable housing programs. 

March: Helen Putnam Award Winners — Calistoga Helps Families to Afford and Build Their Own Homes; Glendale Gets Systematic About Rental Housing Inspections; Fremont Hears the Housing Needs of Deaf Seniors; Goleta Resolves Decades-Old Conflict, Preserves Coastline in Perpetuity— Articles detailing the 2005 Helen Putnam winners in the categories of Housing Programs and Innovations, and Planning and Environmental Quality. 

March: Spotlight on Housing — A summary highlighting all the affordable housing and related articles published by the League in 2005. 

April: What City Officials Should Know About Evolving Laws Linking Water and Land Use by Martha Lennihan — Examines the law connecting water supply and land use decision-making and areas of major concern for California cities. 

May: Show Me the Rooftops: Housing and Economic Development With a Redevelopment Perspective by John F. Shirey — Discusses the link between housing and economic development from a redevelopment perspective. 

May: SCIP Helps Cities Finance Infrastructure Needs by James Hamill — A look at the financing options provided by the Statewide Community Infrastructure Program (SCIP) to help cities meet the challenge of financing major infrastructure in advance of new development. 

June: Los Angeles Forms Partnerships to Clean Up Skid Row — Describes the Helen Putnam Award-winning project in Los Angeles that was developed to clean up the city’s “skid row” area. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo’s office formed partnerships with private industry and other city agencies to create the Excess Personal Property Warehouse used to store personal belongings of the homeless. 

July: Santa Rosa Encourages People to “Build It Green” — The Santa RosaBuild It Green program promotes building and remodeling homes in a way that reduces energy demands, releases far fewer pollutants into the atmosphere, conserves water and reduces construction waste. 

July: Eight Important Questions City Officials Should Ask About Flood Control in Their City by Yvonne Hunter — Outlines the local issues related to flood zones and building behind levees. 

September: San Bruno Partnership Builds Affordable Senior Housing at Former U.S. Navy Facility — A public-private partnership between the City of San Bruno, KDF Communities and Citizens Housing Corporation redeveloped a former military facility into an amenities-enriched senior housing community. 

September: The Trojan Horse on the November Ballot: What Every City Official Should Know About Proposition 90 – “The Taxpayer Trap” by Chris McKenzie — Explains the details of Prop. 90 on the November 2006 ballot, including its impact on redevelopment.  

September: Group Homes in the Neighborhood by David DeBerry and Jeff Ballinger — The city attorneys of Orange and San Jacinto discuss policy and legal implications of group homes, with a focus on sober living facilities. 

October: November Election Is Critical for Safe and Healthy Cities by Maria Alegria — Explains why the infrastructure bond package on the November 2006 ballot is so critical to maintaining safe and healthy cities in California, including Prop. 1C, the $2.85 billion housing bond. 

December: Cities Work to Build Affordable Homes for California’s Senior Residents by Brian J. Heaton — An overview of affordable housing efforts for seniors in cities throughout California. This article also includes a look at projects currently under construction.

This article appears in the March 2007 issue of Western City
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