Fiscal watchdog Dean Andal sent some questions about mayoral candidate Michael Tubbs’ proposal to use tiny houses to get homeless people off the streets of Stockton.
I forwarded those questions to Tubbs. He answers, below.
1. Since the dwellings are not in the current general plan, I assume the general plan would have to be amended to permit their construction?
Tubbs: Not necessarily. The GP is just that, general. It doesn’t specifically list all possible individual land uses. Rather, it speaks in broad terms about land use categories (I.e. residential, commercial, etc.) CDD has no reason to believe that tiny home dwellings would be inconsistent with the GP though a zoning ordinance amendment would certainly be needed.
2. Will an EIR be done on the general plan amendment to insure that there are no “negative impacts” on city services to existing residents?
Tubbs: No. An EIR will be done in compliance with state law which requires only that the city identify, disclose, and to the extent feasible, mitigate any impacts that are identified.
3. Will these new homes be required to pay all of the impact fees that other new homes in Stockton must pay?
Tubbs: Yes, to the extent that impact fees apply to affordable housing units and absent a specific Council exemption.
4. If those fees are waived, doesn’t that have a negative financial impact on the Stockton general fund?
Tubbs: Not necessarily. Impact fees pay for capital improvements. If adequate funds are not collected to build those improvements, other sources of funding are required or the improvements don’t get built. Theoretically, the Council could choose to “backfill” the building of those improvements which has at least the potential to effect the General Fund. But the Council could also choose to backfill with grants, federal funding or it could choose to forego building some of the anticipate improvements altogether.
These good questions (and answers) reflect the higher level of civic and fiscal discourse we realized is necessary when Stockton’s General Fund spiraled into insolvency. That said, it’s dizzying how complicated it is in California to throw together some tiny houses to get people off the streets. Through all of Stockton’s Gold Rush era and much of the 20th century if tiny houses were needed somebody simply would have built them with no red tape from City Hall. But we have to live in the world as it is. Sigh.
Mayor Anthony Silva, to his credit, also put forward a proposal in May. Silva’s idea is to fill an old hotel with homeless and provide services to transition them to permanent housing. That’s a germ of a good idea. But Silva failed to show who would pay for those services, the sort of elementary fiscal mistake we are trying to avoid.
Tubbs’ proposal looks perfectly doable to me. No word from Andal yet.