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City Council Approves Measure Allowing Local Churches to Build Housing in Parking Lots

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City Council leaders unanimously approved a new measure allowing local church leaders to construct affordable housing in parking lots. Large parking lots of churches are often underutilized during the majority of the week, so this plan aims to give churches and other religious institutions the right to make better use of this space for by providing affordable housing. 

Institutions were previously required to maintain a certain amount of parking space based on the locations capacity, but with many establishments maintaining a surplus of space, city leaders hope to spark new affordable housing opportunities. City Council believes that these changes will motivate institutions to increase to the local housing supply, lower costs, and attract new construction. 

“There are so many religious leaders who want to know what they can do as we face a statewide housing crisis that is putting the squeeze on working families,” Mayor Faulconer said in a release. “We have people in need and people who want to help so giving churches the opportunity to build affordable housing on underutilized parking lots makes all the sense in the world.”

Since last Spring, the idea has been gaining traction thanks to local group YIGBY, for “Yes in God’s Backyard.” Jonathan Doolittle, senior pastor at Clairemont Lutheran Church, spoke to the council informing them of his congregations plans to help make the plans a reality. 

“The whole idea of this is for churches to use their resources to make a difference for our communities,” Doolittle said. “It’s churches realizing that there are real issues with affordable housing, and our neighbors and the members of our congregation need something to change.”

In addition to these changes, the council also approved changes to municipal codes allowing continuing care retirement communities to be developed in zones designated for multifamily housing. They also removed a requirement of procuring an additional permit for residential developments that involves constructing underground parking. 

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