The first of two discussions this week on Calimesa’s housing element was held Monday night at a joint workshop between the city council and the planning commission. Members discussed their concerns, which mainly centered on keeping Calimesa’s rural lifestyle while following state law to address housing needs in four income categories over the next eight years. A virtual housing element workshop was scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 17. At that time, the city’s draft housing element document was to be released for the first time. The public was invited to join and provide ideas. The draft housing element document would then be submitted to the state for compliance review before the end of the year. The state has 60 days to review and provide feedback. The draft housing element document would then come back to the planning commission and city council in February or March of 2022 for consideration. Every eight-year cycle, cities must update their housing element. Under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) process, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) directs how many homes each city and county needs to keep up with growth. For this cycle, SCAG allocated 2,017 residential units for Calimesa to develop in four categories based on Riverside County’s median income of $77,500 for a family of four, according to the 2021 HUD Area Medium Income (AMI) for Riverside County. “What we need to do is provide the zoning at the densities that would allow folks at those income categories to be able to avail themselves to that housing,” said Planning Manager Kelly Lucia, who has been the city’s lead on its housing element, along with Dave Barquest, a housing element consultant. Those categories and the residential units are: Very low-income ($38,750 maximum income) units 495; low-income ($39,525-$62,000) units 275; moderate ($62,775-$93,000)

units 379; and above-moderate (more than $93,000) 868. An overlay zone, in-fill properties and accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, were brought up during the joint workshop at the Nov. 15 council meeting. “If you want to build a home or you want to build apartments, I would be concerned about if the developer maintains the neighborhood character,” said Councilwoman Wynona Duval. “For me, as a councilmember, I would like to conduct an assessment of those locations and make sure whoever is presenting to us is that the neighborhood maintains that neighborhood flavor.” Planning Vice Chair Michael Brittingham wondered if the low-income housing would be developed. “We can talk all we want about providing low-income housing, but the builder is not going to build it if he cannot make money or even break even, which you can’t do at these rates,” Brittingham said. “From what I understand Mike, we have to offer property that can be zoned for this and can be used for this. It isn’t for us to tell the developer this is what you have to build,” Mayor Bill Davis said in reply. How does the city know if any new low-income housing, which is usually high density, is being used for what it was intended for, Councilman Jeff Cervantez asked. “As long as we have land that is zoned for high density, then that could potentially meet this number of units and we have discharged our obligation. Is that correct? Whether or not people can actually afford it or not,” Cervantez said. “Right,” Lucia said. “Again, the city is not responsible for construction of the units. We need to provide the zoning that would accommodate that.” For more information, visit


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