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Posted on: April 29, 2020

A Statement from City Council Regarding Affordable Housing

A Statement from City Council Regarding Affordable Housing
4/29/20

The affordable housing ordinances scheduled for public hearing in April 2020 are the culmination of a multi-year process that was performed in coordination with the Asbury Park Planning Board, the Asbury Park Affordable Housing Coalition, and the Fair Share Housing Center. By way of background, it had become evident with Asbury Park’s rebirth over the last two decades that long-time residents were becoming priced out of the City. As City Council, we have made it one of our utmost priorities to remedy what was becoming an affordability issue for many residents and began the process of ensuring the provision of affordable housing in the City.

The process started with the Planning Board’s preparation and adoption of a new Master Plan and Re-examination Report, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40:55D-89. The updated Master Plan was adopted in December 2017 and includes several affordable housing objectives that started the process we are currently conducting. Relevant Housing Objectives and Recommendations from the Reexamination Report include, but are not limited to: “Fully integrate affordable housing throughout the City both within projects and geographically throughout Asbury Park”, “Identify inclusionary zoning opportunities”, and “Adopt a housing element and fair share plan”. These objectives and recommendations, as well as the others throughout the Master Plan document, were based on input received and subject to 5 stakeholder meetings and 2 public community input meetings, as well as a public hearing at the Planning Board level.

The Planning Board implemented the Housing objectives and recommendations beginning in 2018 with preparation of a Housing Plan (formally referred to as the Housing Element and Fair Share Plan). The Housing Plan was later adopted by the Planning Board in February 2019. Included in the adopted Housing Plan are specific recommendations for preparation of each of the affordable housing ordinances that is being considered by the Council this month. The Housing Plan was prepared with the guidance of a subcommittee composed of Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn, Councilperson Yvonne Clayton, former City Manager Michael Capabianco, Director of Planning and Redevelopment Michele Alonso, and Director of Community Development Cassandra Dickerson.  Additionally, the Housing Plan was prepared with significant input from the Asbury Park Affordable Housing Coalition, whose members include but may not be limited to Felicia Simmons, Tracy Rogers, Derek Minno Bloom, and Randi Moore, along with representatives of the Fair Share Housing Center. Meetings related to the preparation of the Housing Plan, involving the Subcommittee, the Asbury Park Affordable Housing Coalition, the Fair Share Housing Center, the Planning Board and/or the City Council, were held on at least nine (9) separate dates, including the following:

  • January 18, 2018 – Subcommittee Meeting
  • April 25, 2018 – Subcommittee Meeting with representatives of the Asbury Park Affordable Housing Coalition and Fair Share Housing Center
  • June 7, 2018 – Community Meeting
  • August 22, 2018 – Arts Commission Meeting
  • October 4, 2018 – Subcommittee Meeting
  • October 11, 2018 – Community Meeting  
  • November 26, 2018 – Planning Board
  • January 28, 2019 – Planning Board
  • February 25, 2019 – Planning Board Adoption

After the Housing Plan was adopted, and at the urging of the Asbury Park Affordable Housing Coalition and the Fair Share Housing Center, the City began the process of developing ordinances to implement the goals and objectives set forth in the Housing Plan by issuing an RFQ to seek a consultant to assist the City with the preparation of the implementing ordinances. Once the consultant was selected, the City convened a new Subcommittee to provide guidance as to the preparation of the implementing ordinances. This Subcommittee included Director of Community Development Cassandra Dickerson, Principal Planner Mark Segal, City Attorney Fred Raffetto, City Manager Donna Vieiro,  Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn, Councilperson Yvonne Clayton, Director of Planning and Redevelopment Michele Alonso, and Affordable Housing Planner/Consultant Beth McManus.

Similar to the preparation of the Housing Plan, the ordinance preparation process was subject to significant input from the Asbury Park Affordable Housing Coalition and the Fair Share Housing Center. At least ten (10) meetings in furtherance of this process occurred with the Subcommittee, the Asbury Park Affordable Housing Coalition, the Fair Share Housing Center, the Planning Board and/or the City Council. Those meetings occurred on the following dates:

  • May 16, 2019 – Subcommittee Meeting
  • August 13, 2019 –Subcommittee Meeting with representatives of the Asbury Park Affordable Housing Coalition and the Fair Share Housing Center
  • October 23, 2019 – Council Meeting
  • December 5, 2019 – Meeting involving City Planner Michele Alonso and Affordable Housing Planner/Consultant Beth McManus
  • January 2, 2020 – Subcommittee Meeting
  • February 20, 2020 – Subcommittee Meeting with representatives of the Asbury Park Affordable Housing Coalition and the Fair Share Housing Center
  • February 26, 2020 – Council Meeting
  • March 9, 2020 – Planning Board Public Input Meeting - Noticed
  • March 25, 2020 – Council Meeting (First reading of ordinances)
  • April 22, 2020 – Council Meeting (Commencement of public hearings and second readings on the ordinances, which meeting was properly noticed in accordance with the requirements of the N.J. Municipal Land Use Law)

In addition to the meetings, Fair Share Housing Center issued 3 sets of comments on the draft ordinances during the ordinance preparation process. These comments were supportive of the City’s efforts to use zoning to incentivize affordable housing and included constructive criticisms relating to several of the ordinances in an attempt to make their provisions even stronger. The ordinances for consideration in April have addressed nearly all of Fair Share’s comments.

It is important to note that adoption of the ordinances at this time, during the COVID-19 public health crisis, remains important and has been advanced at the strong request of the Affordable Housing Coalition and the Fair Share Housing Center.

  • There is currently a large need for affordable housing in the City of Asbury Park and the surrounding region. (data background – Monmouth County obligation is over 15,000)
  • Development activity and interest remains strong in Asbury Park even during the public health crisis. Applications for development in the City and around the state continue to be submitted and receive approvals. The City is legally obligated to review these projects without delay. Any development application that is filed before the Affordable Housing ordinances are adopted is not required to provide affordable housing.
  • In response to the current public health crisis, the New Jersey State Legislature adopted, and Governor Murphy signed into law, P.L. 2020, Chapter 11 (also known as Assembly No. 3850) on March 20, 2020.  That law states that, during the period of the declared State of Emergency and Public Health Emergency, a public body shall be permitted to conduct public meetings related to ANY matters of public business by means of communication or other electronic equipment, and that such meetings shall not be deemed to violate the N.J. Open Public Meetings Act.  Therefore, the fact that recent meetings are being held by telephonic means of communication is consistent with that law, as well as the principles and requirements set forth in Governor Murphy’s Executive Orders, which mandate social mitigation strategies for combatting COVID-19.
  • The public health crisis has caused many to lose their jobs and is likely to have negative economic repercussions. It is critical that we lay the foundation (i.e. incentive) for affordable housing at this time to ensure that the City does all it can to mitigate the impact on its citizens and those from the Region.
  • As a result, failing to adopt the ordinances at this time could result in lost opportunities to create affordable units in the City and therefore lost opportunities to ensure that housing that is affordable to families with low and moderate incomes is available for current City residents who experience displacement, employees of City businesses, and those in need in the surrounding region.
  • Finally, adoption of the affordable housing ordinances will also serve as a proactive measure to ensure that the City is compliant with its constitutional obligation to provide affordable housing for City residents as well as residents from the surrounding region as we move forward.  Although the City does not have a current affordable housing obligation, it is clear the City will have an affordable housing obligation related to the next affordable housing round.  It is better to proactively plan to address that obligation now, rather than to delay and potentially lose opportunities to capture affordable units now that will ensure that the City always remains in compliance with its constitutional obligation.

For questions, contact Director of Planning and Redevelopment Michele Alonso
at 732-502-5711 or michele.alonso@cityofasburypark.com.


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