Belmont faces housing hurdles

The wooded hills and steep cliffs that make for popular views and a high demand for local homes may also be preventing Belmont from producing the volume of new houses that some say is needed in the next seven years.

“We can’t build there, there’s no road, no infrastructure, no water or sewer,” Community Development Director Carlos de Melo said. “It’s all environmentally sensitive land.”

As part of California’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation program, the Association of Bay Area Governments has worked with local counties to divide up the housing burden between member cities. Of San Mateo County’s estimated need for 15,738 new homes, Belmont was tasked with building 460. If the city cannot build the allotted amount, de Melo said the state could withhold redevelopment money and other funds.

Belmont, like the rest of the county’s cities, agreed to the Housing Needs Allocation, but has until August 20 to either find a way to build the land or find other cities that can.

De Melo said Belmont’s geography and infrastructure can only support 200 to 275 new units. Unless the city is able to find other local cities to pick up the slack — as they have already done for 61 units — they could lose state redevelopment funds.

“We’re down to 399,” he said. “We certainly have concerns for where we’re going to find the raw land to be able to produce that number of units,” he said.

Mayor Coralin Feierbach said the influx of residents, vehicles and traffic is too much for Belmont to handle, and the resulting pollution would reduce the quality of life for current residents.

“I don’t feel that ABAG or the state of California has any right to tell us that we have to build any more housing, that’s really wrong,” she said. “I believe in local control.”

On June 25, Feierbach, as well as the Belmont City Council and department heads, met with Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo and discussed the housing issue. Yee said he would work with the council to help them find a way to get their housing element approved without over-building the city.

The housing process will be discussed at tonight’s Belmont City Council Meeting, 7:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers, One Twin Pines Lane. The item is just an update; no action is required.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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