I don’t personally know any Clayton residents that are high-density housing advocates.  Nobody desires to convert downtown into wall-to-wall apartments like some areas of Concord and Walnut Creek.  

Sacramento continues to react to a housing crisis and rising homelessness.  Scarcity in housing inventory, rising rents, and housing costs are challenging.  Sacramento continues to entertain “one-size-fits-all” legislation that limits local city control. Dozens of bills are being reviewed annually which impact Clayton’s ability to control growth and maintain our historical character.

As a council member, I make a significant effort to stay on top of legislation that impacts our city.  I get updates from a myriad of sources including our legal team, CalCities, ABAG, Livable California, and others.  Attending CalCities, the Mayor’s Conference, and Transpac allows me to interact with other officials who face similar mandates from California to zone 10-20% more housing than their existing housing stock.   

As the smallest city in Contra Costa County, I am conscious of our limitations. I am very much “fighting” for local control and the preservation of our small town’s character in every conversation I have with other elected officials both inside and outside the county.  I actively seek other elected city officials with analogous concerns and ask about their efforts to fight state housing mandates and ill-advised legislation.   The majority of Clayton’s City Council is acting in a similar manner. We contact congressional representatives opposing bills of impact.  We send letters in opposition to specific concerns (e.g., SB9).  

For Clayton, we are being asked to zone 570 additional units to our 4,000 existing units a part of the 6th Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) cycle. The last RHNA cycle in 2014 (141 units) resulted in zoning for the first apartment building near downtown, The Olivia.   How and where will 570 units go? How will it impact the future character of our town?

The 570 units are mandated by the State Housing and Community Development (HCD) department. This is a portion of the 441,000 units distributed among ABAG entities (101 cities, 9 counties).  Clayton is appealing the number (lack of space, proximity to transportation/job centers).  However, data indicates our appeal will likely fall on deaf ears and we will need to plan accordingly.

So, I ask the question again … Who is REALLY in favor of High-Density Housing?  Who really wants to go through the exercise of zoning housing numbers we do not want?  Not I, nor anybody I know (elected or otherwise). So, how can I or any others be labeled as a High-Density advocate? Let’s lose the labels and get to work!

Join us in the planning process!  In the next couple of months, the City will begin outreach to actively seek community input to discuss the downtown parcel,  RHNA and the Housing Element.  Clayton needs quality people with historic perspective, vision, and a passionate, civil voice to get involved and join in the conversation. Together, let’s plan our housing numbers to conserve Clayton’s downtown, western charm, and small-town character.  

If you have any questions, please reach out to me personally at (925) 673-7320 or pcloven@ci.clayton.ca.us 

Peter Cloven
Clayton Councilmember
Vice Mayor