Bay Area Towns Weigh ‘Infantilizing’ Proposals to Avoid State Housing Mandates

The San Fran­cis­co Bay Area’s cre­ativ­i­ty knows no bounds—when it comes to find­ing new ways to skirt Cal­i­for­nia hous­ing quo­tas. In Hills­bor­ough, one res­i­dent pro­posed a nov­el loop­hole: “build a seg­re­gat­ed devel­op­ment specif­i­cal­ly for devel­op­men­tal­ly adults, thus pre­vent­ing a poten­tial influx of oth­er unwant­ed ‘low-income’ neigh­bors.” Alex Shultz and Eric Ting report on the sto­ry for SFGate.

Hills­bor­ough, which is required by the Hous­ing Assess­ment (RHNA) to per­mit zon­ing for 554 addi­tion­al units by 2031, is just one of many wealthy enclaves to resist RHNA man­dates to more hous­ing avail­able for “very low-income” house­holds.

For the res­i­dent who made the pro­pos­al, hous­ing for devel­op­men­tal­ly dis­abled peo­ple is far prefer­able to hous­ing for low-income fam­i­lies because he sees it as less of a dis­rup­tion to the com­mu­ni­ty. A coun­cilmem­ber from near­by Wood­side, who last year sug­gest­ed that his should des­ig­nate itself as a habi­tat to avoid build­ing new hous­ing, quick­ly made a com­pa­ra­ble pro­pos­al in his town. A Por­to­la Val­ley coun­cilmem­ber offered sim­i­lar rea­son­ing. “It not have much impact on the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ty because they are very qui­et, crime-free, they gen­er­ate almost no traf­fic because almost none of them dri­ve, and they are close­ly super­vised 24/7,” he said, imply­ing that low-income house­holds would not be any of those things. 

Navneet Gre­w­al, an attor­ney at Dis­abil­i­ty Rights Cal­i­for­nia, says that while more afford­able hous­ing for peo­ple with devel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties is , “we believe that the hous­ing needs to be inte­grat­ed.” Gre­w­al added, “We’re opposed to just cre­at­ing more insti­tu­tions. There needs to be a mix of incomes and types of units offered.” More­over, seg­re­gat­ing a group of peo­ple in an insti­tu­tion­al set­ting can have legal impli­ca­tions. Accord­ing to Gre­w­al, “Any­time you restrict hous­ing to just one type of per­son you risk vio­lat­ing numer­ous fed­er­al and state hous­ing laws.”  

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