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Housing Element Review Continues
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Escalon should have a new General Plan Housing Element in place within the next six months.

A public hearing hosted at a special meeting of the Escalon Planning Commission drew a few participants and some comments on Tuesday, May 26, with the session hosted at the Escalon Branch Library.

"This was the first hearing we've had, other than the previous workshops," said City Planner Duane Peterson, noting that representatives from De Novo Planning Group of Sacramento were in attendance to review the process for developing the housing element.

"They gave a presentation to the planning commission, the same one they had given before in a community meeting," Peterson explained of the firm's representatives outlining the procedures for updating the housing element. "We had some comments from that, what they picked up from the other events were included in this presentation and they had made a few recommendations."

With the public presentations and the Planning Commission session done, the next step is airing the proposal in an Escalon City Council meeting, with that set for Monday, June 15.

"It's possible that the public or the council will have comments and from there, it goes to the state," Peterson said.

The state has a specified review period, after which it comes back to the city for another look at both the Planning Commission and City Council level before local approval. The state ultimately has to sign off on the element.

Basically, said De Novo spokesperson Beth Thompson, the housing element helps to "establish a long term framework" to meet the housing needs of the community.

Factors ranging from what types of housing are most needed to meeting requirements for the Community Development Block Grant program are figured in to the plan. A percentage of the city's housing must also be designed for low-income families.

"By the end of the year, we're hoping to have a certified housing element," Peterson said.

The process has been outlined in several sessions over the past few weeks, with input gathered at each, and Peterson said the goal of the housing element is to make sure all the needs are met, in terms of income, housing requirements and aesthetics. Giving people the chance to have input into the future look of their community just makes sense, he added.

A housing element is one of seven required elements in the city's general plan. According to figures provided by the De Novo group, Escalon currently has 75 percent owner-occupied housing and 25 percent occupied by renters. There is just over a 3 percent vacancy rate in the city.