From the San Francisco Business Times:
Battle brewing over proposed Emeryville residential building moratorium
Feb 11, 2015, 2:38pm PST UPDATED: Feb 11, 2015, 3:53pm PST
Reporter- Roland Li
San Francisco Business Times
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.
The moratorium is a sign that Emeryville, a historically pro-development city, is being swept into a regional housing debate in the face of severe affordability issues that every city in the Bay Area is facing. A moratorium on housing is unprecedented in the Bay Area, opponents said, though residents in Foster City in San Mateo County recently called for just such a move.
Jac Asher, the Emeryville City Council member who proposed the moratorium, said it would give the city more time to study housing issues and develop policies. A draft of the ordinance is expected to be ready Wednesday night, said Asher.
“Issues like family-friendly housing, affordability, ownership have been concerns in our city for a long while. Time and again these issues are talked about as priorities and designated as such in our planning documents," said Asher. "We need to ensure that our plans and goals are well-aligned with our policy-making. The moratorium provides staff time to do an analysis and report back to council."
Ruth Atkin, the mayor of Emeryville, agreed, saying “there's a lot of frustration about the rents going up and up. We've had some high-profile people being displaced."
For example, Emeryville's poet laureate had to move out of the city because of increasing rents, she said. Atkin said that the city would like to see larger apartments for more families and also support more for-sale units rather than apartments.
Atkin said three major projects would be affected by the potential moratorium: redevelopment of the Sherwin Williams factory site, AvalonBay's 6701 Shellmond St. and the Public Market mixed-use project. The first two projects total 720 units and it's unclear how many units might be included in the Public Market project.
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