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El Cerrito 6th Cycle Housing Element

Ascent led the preparation of the City’s sixth cycle Housing Element. El Cerrito is located in Contra Costa County, south of the city of Richmond and north of Albany and Berkeley. Similar to other East Bay cities, the flatlands along the Bay contain much of the commercial and higher-density housing, while the neighborhoods in the hills comprise mostly single-family homes on steep lots on narrow winding roads.

While the city’s population is only about 25,000, with two BART stations connecting El Cerrito to the broader Bay Area and an infill-focused specific plan for the San Pablo Avenue corridor, which runs the length of the city, El Cerrito has significant potential for future growth. Over 90 percent of the 1,391-unit Regional Housing Needs Allocation is accommodated within the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan Area, which includes plans for transit-oriented development at the two BART stations. This potential for infill in the flatlands was sufficient to accommodate the RHNA, but the City’s obligation under state law to affirmatively further fair housing meant the Housing Element also had to provide ways to expand housing opportunities in the hillside neighborhoods classified as concentrated areas of affluence. Ascent worked with the City to craft implementation programs committed to increasing density in single-family neighborhoods in conjunction with the Safety Element update, which would analyze evacuation scenarios and identify appropriate wildfire mitigation.

Ascent led all aspects of the Housing Element, including preparation of a housing needs assessment, fair housing assessment, constraints analysis, detailed sites inventory, policy document and implementation strategy, and community engagement. We coordinated closely with the City’s reviewers at the California Department of Housing and Community Development to secure a conditional approval letter prior to adoption. The Housing Element was certified as in compliance with state law in August 2023.

City of El Cerrito
El Cerrito, California

Project Contact

Chelsey Payne, AICP
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