The City of Bishop has met many of the goals for affordable housing laid out in the 2004 housing element, but with State requirements that assume there will be growth, the new goals for housing in Bishop may not be possible.
The State of California has certain requirements for cities and towns when it comes to having a supply of housing and affordable housing for lower levels of income. This housing element of the City general plan has to be updated every five years. City Administrator Rick Pucci, explained that the City has to have a housing element in place in order to receive state grant money.
When Bishop last updated the housing element in 2004, the city was required to set goals for the development of housing for various income levels. The housing needs set by the state dont have to be built with public money like the Willow Street Housing Project. The private sector has improved the citys housing needs in the past years, explained the housing element Consultant Sandra Bauer.
For the next Housing Element update in 2014, the city will have to create 111 additional housing units in town, something that sparked a debate in the land starved city. Councilman Jeff Griffiths called the number ridiculous. Bishop resident Chuck Kilpatrick asked the consultant where she proposed that the hundred plus units of affordable housing be built.
Rather than stack trailers on top of each other, the consultant recognized that this number would be tough to meet in the City of Bishop. Calling the situation in Bishop, unique, the consultant suggested that the City invite staff from the State Department of Housing and Community Development to the area, so that they can see first hand the limited resource of land in the City of Bishop.
The discussion Monday focused on the environmental requirements of the housing element. The document itself is expected to come up for discussion again at a future council meeting. Whether the state recognizes the land squeeze and cuts Bishop some slack is yet to be seen.