Policies that would require developers to assist in creating affordable housing up for discussion

The Palm Springs Planning Commission will receive an update on a possible citywide inclusionary housing policy Wednesday evening. Members of the public are encouraged to attend.
Should the city require a percentage of new housing developments be available for less than market rate or implement other rules that could lead to more affordable housing? That’s up for discussion at City Hall.

A shift in city policy that, if implemented, could lead to an increase in the amount of affordable housing in Palm Springs will take a significant step forward Wednesday evening years after the issue was first discussed.

Driving the news: During an evening study session, the Palm Springs Planning Commission will receive an update on a possible citywide inclusionary housing policy. The update follows months of discussions and public input meetings involving a five-person workgroup of housing advocates, builders, and one member of the Commission, Lauri Aylaian.

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  • The workgroup was formed after the Palm Springs City Council asked staff to study the pros and cons of adopting both an inclusionary housing policy and commercial linkage fees in April 2021.

Why it matters: As explained in a 22-page staff report, inclusionary housing programs typically require developers to set aside a percentage of their housing projects at a lower cost. Commercial linkage fees are charged to developers of new commercial properties and help fund affordable housing projects for workers who will be employed by the new businesses.

  • Similar policies are in place in 170 California cities, where developers and city officials often work toward creative approaches to meeting the intent of the ordinances — the creation of more housing deemed affordable for residents.

Yes, but: The policies are more common in Northern California, and should Palm Springs implement them it would be the first city in the Coachella Valley to do so. That, combined with the fact some experts point out that more studies are needed to determine if the policies work, led to a word of caution from city staff.

  • “If the costs of development associated with the inclusionary program increase to the point that Palm Springs is at a significant disadvantage relative to other (valley) cities,” staff wrote, “the rate of residential construction in the city may decrease, thereby creating issues with the supply and pricing of housing within the city.”

Details: The Planning Commission study session begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and is open to the public, which is encouraged to attend. It will be held in the large conference room at City Hall, 3200 East Tahquitz Canyon Way, and broadcast live at the city’s website.


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