In the original version of this story, CP&DR mistakenly reported that Claremont's position was that housing element approval meant it did not have to process the Trumark application. We have corrected this information below and we regret the error.
Developers are continuing to propose builder’s remedy projects around the state, especially in Silicon Valley and in smaller affluent communities. But the pushback continues – especially over the question of whether cities can get out from under the builder’s remedy by self-certifying their housing element, rather than waiting for approval from the Department of Housing and Community Development.
In Claremont, Trumark Homes recently added an affordable multifamily component to a previously single-family proposal on a former school site and filed a builder’s remedy application. (See previous CP&DR coverage of the Trumark-Claremont situation here.) Despite the fact that the Claremont City Council approved the housing element on July 11 (in a 7-hour meeting), the city is taking the position that Trumark can proceed with its builder's remedy application because it was filed before that approval, according to City Attorney Alisha Patterson of Rutan & Tucker. On July 20, HCD wrote a letter saying the draft housing element was in compliance, but formal HCD approval is still pending. The City Council directed the staff to further negotiate with HCD while it proceeds with rezoning, especially to reduce the number of units in certain parts of the fire-prone hills in North Claremont.
In an email to the Claremont Courier, Patterson wrote: “As a general rule, the builder’s remedy does not apply if the City has adopted a Housing Element Update that complies with the State’s Housing Element Law. [HCD] certification entitles the City to a presumption that the City’s Housing Element Update complies, but even in the interim period, our position is that the adopted Housing Element Update fully complies, so going forward, the City is in a position to reject or deny builder’s remedy applications unless a Court or HCD determine otherwise.” She further noted that the recent judge’s ruling in the La Cañada Flintridge case was not binding as it is merely a Superior Court ruling. In that case, a judge called the so-called “self-certification” option into question.
In Beverly Hills, a developer named Leo Pustilnikov has filed six builder’s remedy applications and plans to file six more. The largest application would involve building a 15-story apartment building on a parking lot. According to a news report from the radio station KCRW, Pustilnikov’s applications would create twice as many apartments in Beverly Hills than have been built in the last 20 years.
In Menlo Park, a development company known as N17 has proposed replacing the one-story former headquarters of Sunset Magazine with a four-building residential complex, including a 28-story building, a 22-story building, and a 15-story building. Menlo Park has not approved its housing element. A story in Palo Alto Online described the project as “gargantuan” and “towering” and noted that one of the buildings would be “taller than the Statue of Liberty”. The Statue of Liberty is 305 feet tall.
Although San Jose is generally more pro-housing than other Silicon Valley cities, the staff initially pushed back against a developer’s plans to tear down the venerable San Jose Swim & Racquet Club and replace it with 75 townhomes. However, Denver-based TrueLife has now submitted a builder’s remedy application for the project. More details are available in the San Jose Spotlight story here.
In Los Gatos, four developers seeking to build apartment plan to file builder’s remedy applications. One project involves demolition of a 50-year-old post office building, but the developer does not believe historic preservation will be an issue. More details from San Jose Spotlight here.
In Palo Alto, which is already tangling with several developers over builder’s remedy applications, Acclaim Companies has submitted a builder’s remedy application to demolish the former Fish Market restaurant on El Camino Real and replace it with a seven-story, 380-unit apartment building. The project would be 84 feet high, significantly taller than the city’s 50-foot height limit. More details in Palo Alto Online here. Another seven-story proposal is already pending with a builder’s remedy application; more details on that application in CP&DR’s previous coverage here.
In San Rafael, a developer submitted five different builder’s remedy applications for the same site, and the city has now concluded that four of the five applications are eligible for the builder’s remedy. Developer Ray Cassidy purchased the 19-acre property from Dominican University earlier this year. The five applications range from 29 to 75 units. The city is arguing that the projects will need to be slightly reduced to meet affordable housing requirements under the builder’s remedy. More details from the Marin Independent Journal here.