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Arcadia General Plan Update Tries to Address State-Mandated Housing Increase

The Arcadia City Council met on Tuesday July 7 to discuss updates to the city’s General Plan. The revisions were compiled by staff, consultants, and an advisory committee, and called for increasing the maximum density in already high-density zoned areas and allowing further mixed-use development.

These revisions must meet the requirements of SB 375, an “anti-sprawl” legislation that requires local agencies to minimize vehicular travel time through city planning in order to reduce carbon emissions. SB 375, formally known as Senate Bill 375, aims to reduce greenhouse gases in California by rethinking the way communities are designed and built.

Because passenger vehicles are the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 30% of greenhouse gases. According to its authors, SB 375 is an anti-sprawl bill intended to keep cities relatively compact and reduce the distance people travel in cars.

At the same time, Arcadia must comply with the Regional Housing Needs Assessment Numbers (RHNA) assigned, which is assigned to allow communities “anticipate growth” in order to “enhance quality of life, improve access to jobs, promotes transportation mobility, and addresses social equity, fair share housing needs.”

These numbers are assigned by the Southern California Association of Governments and are mandated by the State Housing Law.According to the RHNA mandates Arcadia must build 2,149 additional affordable housing units by the year 2014.

City officials have expressed concern over their ability to meet such a goal, arguing that Arcadia is already “built out”, and that additional high-density housing would create traffic and environmental problems counteractive to the desires of SB 375.

Other surrounding cites have their own RHNA requirements, with Monrovia at 567, Sierra Madre at 139, Pasadena at 2,869 and Temple City at 987.

By Morgan Carpenter

July 8, 2009

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