King City has a tremendous demand for more housing, which includes almost all categories — single-family, market rate apartment units, affordable housing and agricultural employee housing. The City has initiated an extensive effort to help better meet this need in the future, as well as to ensure housing is safe, healthy and of good quality.
New single-family homes are being built at a steady rate and a number of housing tracts have been approved for more homes in the future, including the next phase of Creek Bridge, Mills Ranch and the Downtown Addition. The City is working to ensure necessary permits and inspections are processed in a timely manner.
To attract more market rate and affordable multi-family units, the City recently reduced its development impact fees, which are an impediment for such projects to be economically viable. City staff has identified appropriate sites and are working with potential developers to attract new projects and access housing grant funds.
Significant progress is underway aimed at increasing agricultural employee housing, which is urgent to address the needs of local workers and the agricultural industry so important to our local economy. Last year, a warehouse on First Street was rezoned and approved for conversion to provide units for over 200 workers. A new sewer line is now being constructed to make feasible an agricultural employee housing project just outside the City limits.
A first of its kind ordinance is being drafted, that if approved, will establish appropriate areas and new standards to allow development of dormitory-style projects for H2A and H2B workers. The City is coordinating with agricultural business owners on project proposals planned for development over the next two years.
Finally, the City is participating in a study with other Salinas Valley jurisdictions to better assess needs, identify solutions and generate data that will be instrumental in obtaining grants for additional projects.
The basis for these efforts is not only to provide quantity, but most importantly, quality housing for everyone in the community. Another negative outcome of a housing shortage is that it provides opportunities for some landlords to maximize profits while minimizing investments in property maintenance. The City Council recently adopted a new nuisance abatement ordinance that established more effective tools to enforce Municipal Code provisions. These new regulations are being used to pressure slumlords to upgrade their properties in order to meet adequate housing standards.
An additional area of concern that has generated some confusion has been use of hotels and motels for housing. These facilities are located primarily in areas not zoned for housing, are not designed for housing and do not provide the appropriate amenities. It negatively impacts businesses that depend upon travelers for their livelihood, and the City has been losing Transient Occupancy Tax revenues important to fund City services. On the other hand, long-term stays help make local hotels economically viable and serve an important need by housing temporary workers.
In response to complaints received, the City Council introduced an Ordinance at its last meeting designed to balance these important needs and reach a compromise that can be implemented gradually over time. If adopted, it will continue to allow hotels to use 75 percent of their rooms for long-term stays for a period of up to eight months. On Jan. 1, 2019, this limit will be reduced to 50 percent. To ensure people currently living in hotels are not displaced, they will be exempt from the limits until such time they decide to voluntarily relocate. Once they leave, the vacant unit will then become subject to the restrictions. Provisions are also included in the Ordinance to address current legal loopholes in order to ensure all hotel customers pay their fair share of the Transient Occupancy Tax.
Therefore, a portion of hotels can still be used for temporary housing, but a portion will also be available for visitors that the facilities were originally intended to serve. The intent is to gradually reduce the use of hotels for long-term stays as new projects are constructed that more appropriately meet these diverse housing needs. Adoption of the proposed ordinance will be considered at the next Council Meeting on Nov. 28.
Please feel free to contact City Hall at 385-3281 with questions on these or any other City issues.