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Wasco housing needs assessed

A Wasco Housing Element Update Workshop was held on Monday. The city's consultant, Infrastructure Engineers, presented and was on hand to hear comments and answer questions from the public.

Only one concern was raised from the public about the availability of moderately-priced and above housing.

A housing element is a legally required component of the City of Wasco's general plan. It analyzes a community's housing needs for all income levels and reviews strategies to respond to and provide for those housing needs.

It also facilitates establishing goals, policies, objectives and programs to address current and future housing needs.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development is the state agency responsible for certifying the housing element.

Consultant Tyler Currie, said that an HCD certified housing element is important because it enables the city to be eligible for various state and federal grants and other funding sources.

He also said the element helps identify strategies to solve local problems in housing and provides the city with a plan to address current and future housing needs.

Malia Durand, environmental planning manager for Infrastructure Engineers, said, "We're in very good hands. The city had an excellent fifth cycle housing element, and now the job is to update the housing element to ensure compliance with state housing law."

A housing element must be updated every eight years. This will be the city's sixth cycle for 2023-2031.

As part of the process, a Regional Housing Needs Assessment is mandated by the state as part of the periodic process for processing the updating of the local housing needs of the city's general plan.

This requires that the city adequately plan to meet the needs for housing demand. The Kern Council of Governments is the local COG that works with the HCD to develop Wasco's study.

Included in the housing element, in addition to the assessment, is an analysis of the previous element, a review of a constraints analysis and a look at housing resources and site inventories.

A site inventory is a comprehensive list of all potentially developable sites within a city or county.

It is a critical tool for local governments to plan for future growth and development and includes information about each site's location, size and zoning.

It helps to ensure that there is enough land available to meet the community's needs for housing, jobs and services and is used to identify available land suitable for residential, commercial and industrial development.

It also monitors progress toward meeting state and regional planning goals.

There were public comments, and one that was brought up was that the housing element appeared to need more attention to housing needs for above-moderate incomes.

In response, Keri Cobb, the city's community development director, said that the RHNA addresses that the city needs a higher share or percentage of moderate and above moderate-income housing.

"There will be a discussion regarding this in the final document," Cobb said.

After the workshop, a draft document review will be expected by the summer of 2023 and City adoption by Fall 2023, with the HCD certification by the winter of 2023 or early 2024.


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