On February 3, 2023, the Office of the Governor and the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) announced the City of El Cerrito has earned the state’s Prohousing Designation. El Cerrito, along with the counties of Sacramento and Placer, joins seven others recognized for a commitment to policies that increase housing supply, such as accelerating production, promoting equitable and sustainable zoning and land use, reducing development costs and providing financial subsidies. El Cerrito is now one of ten designated entities eligible for the Prohousing Incentive Pilot (PIP) Program’s $26 million in funding, which rewards Prohousing communities for such commitments.

“El Cerrito has worked very hard to bring new housing to our community over many years through our San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan and its recent amendment, supporting streamlining and flexibility to support all types of housing development, but especially more affordable housing,” said El Cerrito Mayor Lisa Motoyama. “We know that is what keeps our City vibrant. We are so excited to achieve the Prohousing designation so that we can be an example to other small cities of what can be done when we are good partners with HCD.  Kudos to our City staff for making it happen!”

The City of El Cerrito has utilized by-right development, objective standards and streamlining to promote and support housing development. The San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan prioritizes mixed-use housing in conjunction with transit-oriented development and implements form-based zoning with program-level environmental review. Furthermore, a variety of El Cerrito’s housing types are approved ministerially––such as multifamily residential land uses and projects complying with objective design standards––significantly reducing review times and providing increased approval certainty to project developers.

“California continues to deploy a comprehensive set of strategies to increase housing supply, including unprecedented investment, incentives like those attained through the Prohousing Designation and holding local governments accountable for meeting community housing needs,” HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez said. “These Prohousing jurisdictions have demonstrated they are committed to addressing their housing challenges by a wide range of available means. We look forward to continuing our investment in their efforts, as we work together to build 2.5 million homes statewide by 2030.”

Governor Gavin Newsom’s fiscal year 2019-20 budget established the Prohousing Designation Program as part of a spectrum of support, incentive and accountability measures to help meet California’s housing goals. Increasing the availability of housing statewide is critical to bettering the quality of life of all Californians and to ending homelessness. Communities that earn the Prohousing Designation receive incentives in the form of additional points and/or other preference in the scoring of competitive housing, community development and infrastructure funding programs administered by HCD.

Prohousing jurisdictions are also eligible for community development resources through the new PIP Program. The competitive program has $25.7 million in additional flexible funding available to help accelerate housing production and expand preservation of affordable housing.

To earn the Prohousing Designation, cities and counties must demonstrate they are promoting climate-smart housing in a variety of ways, including but not limited to: streamlining multifamily housing development, up-zoning in places near jobs and transit to reduce emissions and creating more affordable homes in places that historically or currently exclude households earning lower incomes and households of color.

Through a Prohousing Designation, El Cerrito has shown a commitment to and diligence in enacting Prohousing Policies to accelerate housing production, preserve affordable housing stock and demonstrate itself as a partner to the state in meeting housing goals. El Cerrito congratulates the other seven Prohousing jurisdictions and is proud to be a part of this elite Top Ten.

For more information on this designation, please contact Aissia Ashoori, Affordable Housing Program Manager, at (510) 215-4361 or aashoori@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us. To learn more about El Cerrito’s housing programs, visit: https://www.el-cerrito.org/Affordable-Housing.