Housing, Finances, and More; The Town Council Gets (Real) Work Done
With most of these past three months’ distraction behind them, the Yountville Town Council discussed and acted on Town business. No movie quotes this go-around. There is some excellent information about what our Town will be doing over the next 12 months. So read on.
The meeting started with the three “authorities” that meet once a year; Housing, Finance, and Parking. They all create a structure for financing, when and if needed. The only discussion was a presentation from the Napa Housing Authority, which acts on behalf of the Town for housing programs. Napa administers vouchers for rental assistance, of which there are 20 participants in Yountville. It also takes care of all the paperwork and program details for the popular home occupancy repair programs. Because the restrictions are related to the home value, most of the $90,000 administered has been in our two mobile home parks. Town Manager Steven Rogers stated that we are working with the Napa Housing Authority to help increase the base value of the program so that more homeowners can benefit.
The regular Town meeting started with a presentation on our Housing Element Update. Government loves its acronyms, so included in these terms, guidelines, and data points are the acronyms you need to know:
- HCD Housing and Community Development (state)
- ABAG Associate of Bay Area Governments (region: of which Yountville is one of the 17 members)
- RHNA Regional Housing Needs Allocation (pronounced REE-nah)
- ADU Additional Dwelling Unit
- Very Low Income: <$56,850 Low Income: $56,850 – $90,050 Moderate: $90,050 – $109,200 Above Moderate: >$109,200
- Approximately 41% of Yountville households are lower income
- Every eight years the Housing Element must be certified by the the HCD
- 6th cycle update is for 2023-2031
- Deadline of January 31, 2023, to complete the update
This update is happening in municipalities throughout the state, and there are many different moving parts to make this happen in Yountville. So, every eight years, our housing element needs to be updated. A big part of this update is the state’s HCD requirements for specific housing types; RHNA, specifically workforce housing. The HCD sets the numbers for the region and gives them to ABAG (for this 6th cycle, 441,176 units), who then divide it for the municipalities. In the 5th cycle, which we are currently exiting, the Town was required to have 17 housing units; in the 6th cycle (which is what we are updating for), it is 72 units. The Town has a history of meeting and exceeding Very Low and Low as in the 4th cycle; 54 units realized exceeds the 47 required.
6th cycle 72 units: 19 Very Low, 11 Low, 12 Moderate, 30 Above Moderate
The idea behind all this is to accommodate the workforce and others into the fabric of the community. Cities and counties must show adequate land zoned for housing to accommodate the RHNA at each income level. Let’s also throw all the new housing laws coming out of Sacramento into the mix.
How the hell are we going to make that happen? Enter Placeworks. A consulting company that has assisted the Town on the two previous cycles will again be helping. The three consultants will work with staff to identify sites and how many housing units can be accommodated. The Project Schedule includes community workshops on February 16 (virtual) and March 2 (in person). There will be four Town Council meetings and two Ad Hoc meetings (consisting of two members from the Council and two from the ZDRB). There will also be a ZDRB presentation.
There is plenty of chance for the community to get involved at the two workshops, and the Town is looking for stakeholders to interview. All the details are on the Town website. Scroll down and find the Housing Element Update bubble and click on it.
Council members and Town staff covered some excellent points to consider as we move forward with this housing process. Town Manager stated that given the current ADU laws, the Town is looking to assist with ADU development in return for a ten-year commitment to rental for the Very Low or Low categories. The balance in the Measure S fund can help contribute to a program like this.
There was a lot of back-and-forth concerning the Veterans Home. While we are waiting for answers from the HCD, here are items to consider:
- The Veterans Home is included in the census block for Yountville (this tract/block is what contributes to that 41% lower income).
- It is understood that the population at the Home is included as a factor in our RHNA numbers.
- The Town does not have zoning authority at the Vet’s Home.
- In 2019 the Governor of California identified the Vets Home as one of the 150 pieces of excess state land that could be an option for housing.
- The skilled nursing facility is finally moving forward at the Home, and the parallel discussion during the construction will be about housing.
- The Home’s Master Plan identifies the need for housing.
- A program has been in place for the criteria and process to pre-approve developers for development on surplus properties from the state.
Got all that? So the main question is that if housing is built at the Vets Home will it count toward the Town of Yountville RHNA numbers. All of this has been queried with the HDC. The former Yountville elementary school property will be part of this discussion moving forward as another viable option. Whether you want to participate or simply follow the progress, there are many ways to make it happen. Read more and sign up.
The Council also heard a report from Public Works Director, John Ferons, to update the municipal code and ordinance to tighten and strengthen water conservation rules in Yountville. This included a limit to use, time to repair, tie penalties to fines, and flow restriction for habitual bad use. Staff stressed that this was being used to treat the accounts, reaching a point of excessive usage. In some cases, out-of-Town water customers use up to 16,000 gals in one month! In comparison, my current usage is trending 2,310 for January. Council voted 4 – 0 to make the changes and updates.
The finance department gave a look back to the fiscal year 2020/2021, and the best part of the conservation was what to do with the $1,802,000 in unassigned fund balance. The decision was agreed to be:
- Transfer $350,000 into Emergency Reserve Fund 04 to increase reserves.
- Transfer $250,000 into Revenue Stabilization Reserve Fund 05 to increase reserves.
- $400,000 to transfer into the Capital Projects Fund 50 to support future planned projects.
- $225,000 to the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Trust.
- $325,000 to the Pension Rate Stabilization Plan (PRSP) Trust
- $200,000 to Facilities Repair and Replacement Fund 81.
Before these transfers the balances were: OPEB Trust $5,732,433, PRSP Trust $2,589,943, Emergency Reserve $2,046,785, Revenue Stabilixzation $2,046.785. Not a bad positon to be given the past two years.
STAY WITH ME HERE; WE ARE ALMOST DONE
All Council members voted in favor of establishing a new job description of Human Resources Manager & Information Technology Manager, with the modification being a change in title to Deputy Director (not Manager) as well as a pay increase. As Town Manager Steven Rogers stressed, this was done for succession planning and better set up a true HR department for the Town. The position currently occupied by Julie Baldia has increased over the years with the addition of IT and state laws. As Councilmember Eric Knight said, “… [this is a] smart decision for the community.”
The afternoon meeting ended with two positive presentations, the November/December financial reports and the December water conservation update. Revenues are looking strong in the financials, and drought conditions were downgraded to the Severe category with a 44% reduction in water usage compared to last year.
Next Town Council meeting is on February 1, 2020, at 3 pm via Zoom. Time to appoint a new council member.