California revokes Bay Area town’s affordable housing certification – NBC Bay Area

In the recent past, housing advocates applauded Portola Valley for a creative plan to build 152 affordable housing units.  

It was the town’s response to a state law requiring proof of plans to build a certain amount of affordable housing, and it’s a plan the state approved back in January. 

Then, the complicated zoning process began.

“Portola Valley got decertified for one of the most clear-cut unambiguous areas of state law, the rezoning deadlines,” said Jeremy Levine, Housing Leadership Council policy manager for San Mateo County.

The state’s decision to decertify the plan this week means Portola is no longer in compliance with state law.

The town’s mayor Sarah Wernikoff insists there is no “stall and delay tactic”.

In a statement sent to NBC Bay Area, she said that Portola Valley, “currently do not have these zoning districts, so developing them, in a town of our size and resources, takes time.”

She added that the state’s “one-size-fits-all approach interwoven with rapidly changing housing laws has overwhelmed our small town and made compliance a herculean task. I look forward to recertification in May so we can finally move on to the work of the intent of the regulations – actually getting housing built.”

“They need to, they lose certain state money if they aren’t in compliance with their housing element, and for a small town like Portola Valley, with 4,400 residents, losing a revenue source is tough,” said Tim Clark.

He heads the affordable housing task force at his Portola Valley church, which sits next to land where affordable housing units may be built. The housing topic has stirred debate across the community. 

“There are people who don’t want the community to change and they’re willing to throw up a series of objections to it,” said Clark.

“The council needs to not listen to that segment of the community,” said Levine.

The town council has a timeline to get the plan adopted by next month.

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