Affordable housing debate heats up in Hillsborough

HILLSBOROUGH, Calif. (KGO) — Drive along the quiet streets of Hillsborough and you may never know a battle was brewing.

Thanks to state law, every city and town in California will soon be required to build a certain amount of affordable housing.

While many places are building multiple forms of housing, Hillsborough wants to meet most of its needs with secondary suites, or ADUs.

ADUs are typically small spaces built on private property.

“We don’t want to put the lives of our citizens at risk for what I would call misguided high-density housing,” Hillsborough Mayor Al Royse said.

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Royse says the city’s hilly landscape and lack of land available for development make it difficult to build other types of housing.

Royse tells ABC7 News that in addition to these concerns, many people in Hillsborough also want to preserve the town’s unique character.

That view appeared to be echoed by many who showed up for public comment at a town meeting on Monday evening.

“Please don’t give in to pressure to have a gun held to your head by the state or by activists,” a man in attendance said.

But not everyone agrees with Hillsborough’s proposal. Some housing advocates say they don’t think it will be approved by state regulators.

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“To my knowledge, no municipality in California has yet had a plan that is so overwhelmingly comprised of state-approved ADUs,” Jordan Grimes said.

Grimes is a housing advocate on the peninsula.

He thinks that, as it stands, the Hillsborough proposal does little to solve the housing crisis in the area and says most homes are likely to be difficult to rent.

“There’s no way to guarantee their affordability. Unfortunately, it’s really just a way to try to get around those state requirements,” Grimes said.

Hillsborough has until January 30 to submit its proposals and make any changes required by the state.

If they don’t meet that deadline, the city could face fines of thousands of dollars every day.

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