Low-income homes to open by Christmas

It’s the first such project for the city, which is behind the state mandated goal of providing such units

clambert@thetribunenews.comOctober 16, 2012 

Correction: A sentence regarding high home prices in Pismo Beach in 2006 was misstated in an earlier version of this article. The sentence should read: "While median home prices have dropped from a peak of $900,000 in 2006, average home prices remain higher than elsewhere in San Luis Obispo County, according to the city’s housing element, a part of its general plan, updated in 2010."

By Christmas, residents of Pismo Beach’s new low-income housing project should be moved into their downtown homes — the first such housing project for a city that’s far behind its state-mandated goal to provide low-income units.

The $5.8 million project includes 14 units built specifically for those who meet certain income levels at 360 Park Ave., near Ira Lease Park. The estimated $4.3 million project was designed, constructed and will be managed by San Luis Obispo-based Peoples’ Self-Help Housing.

The income target for residents of the project is those making 30 to 50 percent of the area median income. The income range for a three-person household is $20,000 to $33,500 annually, said John Kukulka, director of development for the nonprofit organization.

The organization received more than 75 applications for the 14 units and held a lottery to select the residents, Kukulka said. The majority of residents are from the Five Cities area.

Low-income housing in Pismo Beach is sorely needed, as the city remains one of the pricier areas of San Luis Obispo County in which to buy a home.

While median home prices have dropped from a peak of $900,000 in 2006, average home prices remain higher than elsewhere in San Luis Obispo County, according to the city’s housing element,  a  part of its general plan, updated in 2010.

The median home price for single-family residences sold in Pismo Beach since January was $560,000, according to the Pismo Coast Association of Realtors.

Pismo Beach is required under state law to provide adequate sites for 272 very low- and low-income residential units by 2014.

The city failed to meet a target set by the Department of Housing and Community Development that it provide sites for 252 low- and very low-income housing units by 2006; only nine low-income secondary units were approved for development during that time.

The units weren’t built in part because the city hasn’t had many large development projects in recent years. Developers of single-family homes and other small projects can pay a fee in lieu of providing low-income housing, Pismo Beach Planning Manager Carolyn Johnson said.

The now-defunct Los Robles del Mar project outside city limits included low-income units, but the project was rejected for annexation by the San Luis Obispo Local Agency Formation Commission.

Early next year, city officials will start changing the zoning of some of the properties they identified in 2010 that could be used for low-income housing, Johnson said.

The city bought the 26,620-square-foot parcel on Park Avenue for about $1 million with money from its now-dissolved Redevelopment Agency, which was required to set aside at least 20 percent of its money for low- and moderate-income housing.

The project is the second low-income housing development the city has been involved in over the past 15 years. People’s Self-Help Housing also manages the city’s other low-income project, Sea Haven Apartments, which has 12 units. It was an existing complex purchased by the nonprofit in 1998 with city and state grants.

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