February 28, 2022
Submitted via email to: email@example.com
RE: Coordinating Carmel’s design guidelines contract and housing element update
Dear Mr. Swanson,
I understand the City of Carmel is planning to update its design guidelines and zoning code. You may want to consider coordinating this work with the update to the Carmel Housing Element, which must be completed by December 2023 to accommodate the 6th Cycle RHNA. Since the Housing Element is part of the General Plan, its provisions take priority over the design guidelines and zoning code. That is, both the design guidelines and the zoning code must conform to the Housing Element update, which in turn must conform to the City’s 6th Cycle RHNA and to the state law mandates for housing elements and for affirmatively furthering fair housing (AB 686).
For example, the housing element must include a site inventory that is sufficient to accommodate the 349 units assigned by the 6th Cycle RHNA, and, if necessary, a program to rezone sufficient sites at sufficient densities to accommodate these units. Given the requirement that this site inventory reflect the “realistic capacity” of the identified parcels (not their maximum capacity), it may be necessary to rezone sites sufficient to accommodate many more than 349 units. The revision of the zoning code should take these expected changes to zoning designations and densities into account.
Furthermore, State law requires that the new Housing Element identify both governmental and non-governmental constraints on housing production and adopt policies and programs to overcome them. Because both zoning and design guidelines are substantial constraints on housing production, their revision should consider the changes required by the new housing element.
In sum, the scope of work for the amendments to the design guidelines and zoning code should expressly include amendments required for the next housing element. It may be appropriate to use a single planning company to amend the zoning code and design guidelines and to prepare the next housing element. If so, you may want to consider choosing a planning company that has demonstrated competence in housing elements, including all of the recent changes in state law, as well as in design guidelines and zoning code revisions.