Is Anaheim Considering Mandating Developers to Construct Affordable Housing?

Mayor Ashleigh Aitken (Credits: Voice of OC)

Anaheim officials are exploring ways to increase the availability of affordable housing. Still, some council members resist mandating developers to include low-income housing in their projects or pay a fee for affordable housing elsewhere.

Last year, independent investigators raised concerns about developer favoritism in city hall, prompting scrutiny over the involvement of a prominent developer in city affairs.

Additionally, a recent report revealed that most approved housing projects last year catered to above-moderate-income families, highlighting the shortage of affordable housing options.

The county’s median income is approximately $128,000, so many households earning less than $115,000 are classified as low-income, and those earning less than $72,000 are very low-income.

Anaheim (Credits: Voice of OC)

While neighboring cities like Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, Brea, and Irvine have implemented inclusionary housing ordinances successfully, Anaheim has been reluctant to adopt similar policies.

During a recent city council meeting, consultant Paul Silvern emphasized the effectiveness of inclusionary housing laws in increasing the supply of affordable housing.

However, Councilwoman Natalie Rubalcava expressed skepticism about the efficacy of such policies, referring to inclusionary housing as a “buzzword” and suggesting it could deter developers.

Mayor Ashleigh Aitken acknowledged the need for more housing in Anaheim and advocated for considering inclusionary housing ordinances as a community benefit. She highlighted the reliance on taxpayer dollars to fund affordable housing projects and emphasized the importance of equitable distribution.

Councilman Jose Diaz and Councilwoman Rubalcava criticized inclusionary housing laws and developer fees, suggesting they could hinder development and create unfair burdens. They argued that such policies would drive developers away to states like Nevada, where housing regulations are less stringent.

City Council (Credits: Voice of OC)

Grace Stepter, the city’s director of Housing and Community Development, disagreed, stating that inclusionary housing ordinances would level the playing field for developers and create a more balanced approach to affordable housing.

Cesar Covarrubias, executive director of the Kennedy Commission, supported inclusionary housing policies, citing success stories in other cities like Santa Ana. He emphasized that such policies do not impede development but contribute to a robust pipeline of housing projects.

The debate over inclusionary housing ordinances reflects differing views on addressing the affordable housing crisis in Anaheim. While some council members advocate for mandatory measures to ensure affordability, others are concerned about potential drawbacks and prefer incentive-based approaches.

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