All eyes will be on the historically “pro-development” city of Emeryville at tonight’s 5pm special meeting at City Hall. As previously reported, City Council will vote on the proposed residential development moratorium that would put a 45-day hold on in-the-works residential projects. Similar ordinances have recently been written in cities like San Mateo in 2011 and West Hollywood last year. According to the city, these have not been legally challenged thus far.
Feature Photo: Pacific Landscape Gallery
The draft of the staff recommendation ordinance can be read in full here, begins as follows:
Staff recommends the City Council consider this staff report and attached ordinance adopting as an urgency measure an interim ordinance establishing a moratorium on the approval or issuance of a planning permit, preliminary development plan, final development plan, subdivision, or any other discretionary permit from the City of Emeryville necessary for the development of multi-unit residential uses within the City of Emeryville subject to certain enumerated exceptions, and provide direction to staff. If the City Council wishes to adopt the interim ordinance as an urgency measure, the ordinance must be passed by a four-fifths vote. The measure will go into effect immediately, subject to the time limitations discussed below.
The projects that this would apply to would include:
- Nady Site (Anton Development Company)
- Sherwin Williams (SRM Ernst)
- Public Market (City Center Realty Partners)
Public Policy groups, developers and their legal representatives are already hinting of legal challenges if this passes. The Real Estate Law Group LLP, on Anton’s behalf, has already issued a five-page formal objection to City Attorney Michael Biddle’s proposal with strong language such as “It is perhaps more shocking that the proposal was raised by the City Council without any public notice whatsoever.” and “Any delay of the Project by the proposed moratorium will cause Anton Development serious financial losses without any legal justification for doing so”. The Burke, Williams & Sorensen Law Group have issued a similar letter on SRM Ernst’s behalf as well as Holland & Knight on the Public Market’s behalf.
The “Fast Track” timing of the meeting seems to have especially rankled developers. Legally, apparently, the city only needs to provide 24 hours for an “emergency meeting” of this type. Emeryville is of course not the only city in the Bay Area that is being faced with a “Housing Crisis” of this nature and I’m sure that other cities in similar predicaments will be paying close attention to how this unfolds. How can these Cities delicately balance required density, inventory & affordability while still working with and even being amenable to developers? We’ll be curious to see how many people actually show up for a 5pm Friday meeting.
Tonight’s Special Meeting Agenda →
Battle brewing over proposed Emeryville residential building moratorium
The Emeryville City Council plans to vote Friday on a proposed moratorium on residential construction, a move that has drawn criticism from public policy groups and developers and could lead to legal challenges if it passes.
If at least four of the five Emeryville council members vote to approve the ordinance, approvals for projects seeking entitlements would be frozen for 45 days. The meeting will be held at 5 pm at Emeryville’s Civic Center, 1333 Park Ave.
The City Council would have an option to extend the moratorium following another vote. It wasn’t immediately clear if the ordinance would also extend to projects that have already received building permits. Multiple requests for comment to the city attorney, Michael Biddle, weren’t returned.
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What is the point of a moratorium? The purported reason is because housing is becoming unaffordable. This logic offends common sense. To reduce prices, you must increase supply in an amount that exceeds demand. A moratorium will reduce supply and do nothing to abate the demand that’s driving price increases.
They were hoping the 45 day pause would give them time to determine better policies to promote family friendly, affordable housing in Emeryville. I don’t think their goal was to ever shut down development altogether.