The City of El Cerrito is proud to announce significant progress and achievements in its ongoing commitment to address housing needs and priorities within the community. The recent approval of the 2023-2031 Housing Element by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on August 22 marks a significant milestone in the City’s ongoing efforts to meet the diverse housing needs of El Cerrito residents, now and in the future.
“The approval of our 2023-2031 Housing Element represents a pivotal moment in El Cerrito’s journey to create more inclusive, sustainable, and vibrant homes for our growing community,” said Mayor Lisa Motoyama. “Our vision for the future of housing is ambitious and geared towards enhancing the quality of life for all El Cerrito residents and businesses.”
With the approval of the El Cerrito Housing Element Update, the City is well-positioned to meet or exceed all State requirements to address long-term housing needs. El Cerrito’s recent accomplishments
since the last Housing Element (2015-2023) include:
Affordable Housing Strategy: In 2017, the City adopted an Affordable Housing Strategy that identified tactics to address affordable housing needs and displacement risks and ranked the priority for such actions.
Hana Gardens: In 2018, the City proudly partnered with Eden Housing to develop and open Hana Gardens, a 63-unit mixed-use senior affordable housing community adjacent to City Hall. This project not only provides affordable housing but also includes two commercial spaces and a beautiful Japanese Heritage Garden.
Inclusionary Zoning: In 2018, the City moved forward with an Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, which requires new housing developments to include affordable units or pay an in-lieu fee to the City ‘s affordable housing fund.
The Mayfair Project, Phase II: In 2019, the City provided BRIDGE Housing $350,000 in pre-development funding to assist and support the development of 69 affordable units as part of the Mayfair (BRIDGE) affordable housing project.
The El Cerrito Rent Registry Program: The City implemented the El Cerrito Rent Registry Program in 2019 to better understand local rent market trends and guide future City housing policy.
Funding for the BRIDGE affordable housing project: The City successfully secured a $500,000 HUD Hope VI Main Street grant (2021) and an Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) (2022) allocation of $26 million for housing and transportation projects.
With these recent accomplishments in mind, El Cerrito’s 2023-2031 approved Housing Element seeks to continue:
accelerating housing production,
supporting affordable and special needs housing,
conserving existing housing and preventing displacement, and affirmatively furthering access to fair and equitable housing.
The San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan (SPASP) is a related planning document that serves to meet several of the City’s long-term housing goals. Approved by the City Council in September 2014, the SPASP aims to transform San Pablo Avenue into a versatile corridor that serves not only as a transportation route but also as a dynamic area for living, working and community life. By encouraging mixed-use, residential and commercial development, the plan focuses on key principles such as enhancing the local identity and sense of community, attracting private investment, building strong partnerships, improving public spaces, fostering environmental sustainability, and promoting the everyday use of transit, walking, and biking.
With innovative development plans and a genuine commitment to embracing accessible housing, El Cerrito is well-positioned to exceed the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) requirements. The RHNA is part of a statewide statutory mandate for every city and county in California to address a portion of the projected statewide housing needs and plan for a select number of housing units.
El Cerrito’s RHNA targets for 2023 to 2031 includes the development of 1,391 new housing units, with 526 units dedicated to low- and very low-income households. The City has several developments in the pipeline in the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan area, including the El Cerrito Plaza BART Transit-Oriented Development with 743 housing units. Based on the number of housing units in approved and planned projects, vacant and underutilized sites, and projected accessory dwelling units (ADUs), the City has sufficient capacity to meet the RHNA goals with a surplus of 505 lower-income units, 392 moderate-income units, and 556 above moderate-income units.
“El Cerrito is forging a promising path for the future of housing, driven by our commitment to affordability, sustainability and equitable opportunities. We remain dedicated to making our city an even more welcoming and prosperous place to live and thrive,” said City Manager Karen Pinkos.
Thanks to the City’s leadership on housing and sustainable development, El Cerrito is one of just seven communities to be awarded a grant from the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s Infill Infrastructure Grant Catalytic program. This $20 million grant will further support the City’s efforts in transit-oriented development and affordable housing.
The City’s commitment to creating policies that increase housing supply has also earned El Cerrito a ‘Prohousing Designation’ from the State. This designation places El Cerrito among a small number of designated entities eligible for the Prohousing Incentive Pilot (PIP) Program’s $26 million in funding, which rewards Prohousing communities for such commitments by adding resources to support new affordable housing.
“The availability of funding is instrumental in bringing our development goals to fruition, and El Cerrito’s proactive approach has not only attracted substantial grants but also maintained our eligibility for ongoing support,” emphasized City Manager Karen Pinkos. “These accomplishments highlight our City’s determination to continue building a thriving, inclusive and sustainable community.”
About the City of El Cerrito: Located near the east shore of the San Francisco Bay, the City of El Cerrito is an ethnically diverse community offering a high quality of life within one of the nation’s most sophisticated and beautiful living areas. With a population of approximately 25,000 residents, El Cerrito has the advantage of being centrally located in a major metropolitan area. El Cerrito is an established community with a strong self-identity and a commitment to enhancing the quality of life for its citizens.