The City of Modesto is creating a Housing Plan to establish a vision for the future of Modesto's residential neighborhoods, and for expanded housing opportunities throughout Modesto.
The Housing Plan is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Modesto to define living options for its current and future residents. Guided by community feedback throughout the process, the Housing Plan will inform the City’s long-term planning and policy decisions and promote greater housing, diversity and opportunities.
The planning process will occur using an innovative and engaging approach as outlined below.
Our Approach to Planning for Future Housing in Modesto
Analyze Land Characteristics and Identify Future Housing Sites
This process helps to identify appropriate candidate locations for new residential development. “Testing” of various housing product types on sites with different shapes and sizes will help assess the viability and practicality of potential development. It includes creation of three-dimensional visualizations, offering examples of what the community would like to see built. Financial feasibility analysis and zoning recommendations will also be explored and evaluated.
Community Engagement to Better Plan and Design Future Housing Sites
City of Modesto staff want to hear from all interested parties, stakeholders and underrepresented communities to ensure their needs and desires are heard. Staff has developed a list of key local housing advocates and community members who will have an opportunity to make their views known early in the process. These people and organizations will be encouraged to spread the word about the Housing Plan to help engage the broadest range of people possible.
- What will the Housing Plan do?
The Housing Plan is an opportunity to envision what the future of housing can be in Modesto. It will focus on the “nuts and bolts” of how and where to develop new housing in Modesto, and it will inform the City’s long-term planning policy documents for housing: the General Plan and its Housing Element. The Housing Plan will systematically analyze housing opportunities citywide to assess where more housing can be located, which housing types are feasible under various market conditions, and what housing types are most desired by Modesto residents. Community input and feedback will be used to make zoning and policy recommendations for enabling a wide range of housing choices at all levels of affordability.
The Housing Plan approach includes four key steps:
- Citywide analysis of form- and place-based characteristics across Modesto that will inform the selection of a range of opportunity sites.
- Design testing on a range of opportunity sites with hypothetical build- outs (called “Test Fits”) to understand what housing types are best suited for different site types, informed by the site’s physical characteristics, access, infrastructure, and adjacent context.
- Financial feasibility analysis of the hypothetical Test Fits and design refinements to find the “sweet spot” of good design that is compatible with nearby development, and market viability.
- Detailed zoning and policy recommendations to remove regulatory barriers, streamline housing production, and enable housing at different scales and at all levels of affordability.
- How can I participate in the public engagement process for the Housing Plan?
Your participation is key to the success of the Housing Plan. Please get involved and spread the word to your friends, family and neighbors. It’s critical that we hear opinions and viewpoints from different groups to get to a Plan that has broad community support.
Here are some easy steps to get involved:
- Sign up to get notified of project updates and upcoming workshops.
- Attend as many workshops as you can and invite your family, friends and neighbors to do so. Each workshop will include a presentation and opportunities to actively participate.
- Bookmark the project website and sign up for updates. All project deliverables including workshop PowerPoint presentations, surveys, etc. will be uploaded on the project website.
- What is the difference between the Housing Plan and the Housing Element?
The Housing Plan is a detailed approach to identifying more sites where housing can be built in Modesto, identifying more types of housing that can be built here, and recommending zoning and policies to deliver more housing.
The Housing Element is a state-mandated part of the General Plan that contains certain required information and analyses. As part of the Housing Element, existing places where housing can be built are identified and policies to assist the development of housing at various price points are identified.
The Housing Plan will identify NEW places to build housing and NEW policies to support the development of new housing. This information will be included in the Housing Element and in the larger General Plan. The Housing Plan may result in amendments to the General Plan land use map and policies and in changes to the zoning code.
- Will this plan address rent control?
Rent control is a statewide issue. A new California law limits rent increases to no more than five percent (5%) plus the local rate of inflation per year. All landlords in California are subject to this law, although buildings constructed in the last 15 years are exempt from rent control.
- What is the timeline for the Housing Plan?
The Housing Plan is a year-long effort, targeted to be completed in 2022.
- Will the Housing Plan include community input?
Community feedback is fundamental to the Housing Plan, and the Plan tasks and workflow have been structured to get input at major milestones through public workshops, stakeholder interviews, and continued engagement throughout.
Four public workshops are planned as part of the Housing Plan effort:
- Workshop 1: Introducing the Housing Plan – October 2021
- Workshop 2: Opportunity Sites – November 2021
- Workshop 3: Zoning and Policy Recommendations – January 2022
- Workshop 4: Draft Housing Plan – March 2022
At each public workshop, the design team will present the work completed to date, get comprehensive feedback on design decisions, alternatives, and clearly outline next steps. The four workshops are planned as online (Zoom) evening workshops (5:30 to 7:30 pm) to maximize participation. All project deliverables and relevant content will also be made available on a dedicated project webpage, that will also be used for surveys and continued feedback through the life of the project.
- How will the City ensure that input is provided by minorities and economically disadvantaged groups, to ensure the plan addresses housing needs for all?
City of Modesto staff want to hear from underrepresented communities to ensure their needs and desires are heard. Staff has developed a list of key local housing advocates and community members who will have an opportunity to make their views known early in the process. These people and organizations will be encouraged to spread the word about the Housing Plan to help engage the broadest range of people possible.
- What will the City do with my input/comments?
All public input and comments will be part of the public record. They will be referred to by the project team and considered prior to making design and policy recommendations. Detailed personal information will not be made public.
- Who is the project team working on the Housing Plan? How is the work being funded?
The Housing Plan is being led by the Cindy van Empel with the City of Modesto and a multidisciplinary consultant team selected by the City. The Housing Plan is being funded from the State of California SB2 grant program awarded to the City. The consultant design team is led by Opticos Design, Inc., and is supported by Lisa Wise Consulting, O’Dell Engineering.
- How long will it take to see results from the Housing Plan?
Production of new housing is a complicated and time-intensive process. Certain policy recommendations resulting from the Housing Plan can be expected to be implemented quickly. Changes to zoning designations and regulations can also be prepared and adopted by the City, which provides a degree of certainty, although the process may take several months to complete. Actual production of new housing units or developments is dependent on the private sector, and therefore an associated timeline cannot be defined.