Governor calls for cities to have more affordable housing

Soledad's compliance status listed as 'in review'

SOLEDAD — As California Gov. Gavin Newsom calls for cities to meet housing compliance regulations, Soledad was named one of the cities with an “in review” compliance status.

Affordable housing has not only been on Newsom’s radar but the City of Soledad’s as well. Several projects have been part of the discussion on affordable housing; however, with the staff layoffs that occurred in 2015 and other items taking precedent, the housing element had gone out of compliance.

Soledad’s housing has been out of compliance with the state for four years. The previous housing element, active between 2009 and 2014, was required to be updated in 2015.

“The process to update did not begin until 2018, when staff reached out to Michael Baker International,” said Jennifer Nieto, economic development and housing program manager. “(We’re) working with them to update language.”

In September when Nieto joined the City’s staff, there was a plan to submit a public review draft to the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

According to Nieto, the draft did not go through because of the City’s application for Community Development Block Grants and because the City had been out of compliance for so long they would have to submit a mid-cycle update to maintain certification. The mid-cycle update is due Dec. 15.

“Programs like CDBG, SB 2 planning grants require that your housing element be in compliance with the State,” Nieto said.

The public review draft sent last December was reviewed by HCD and returned to the City with comments. The City addressed those comments with PlaceWorks, the new consulting firm the City hired after the consultants moved to the firm. A second draft was sent to HCD in early January.

Along with the housing element update, the City is supposed to submit an annual progress report, due every year in April. Progress reports were not submitted from 2015 to 2018. Nieto has sent those reports as of Feb. 6, and the reports are under review by HCD.

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