Latest housing element update maps out Reedley’s future

Reedley’s 2023-2031 Housing Element receives mark of approval from state, city council

Housing developments under construction on 11th St., between Myrtle Ave. and East Ave. (Kenny Goodman)
Housing developments under construction on 11th St., between Myrtle Ave. and East Ave. (Kenny Goodman)
Serena Bettis
Published April 23, 2024  • 
11:00 am

REEDLEY – After nearly two years of work by the city’s community development department, the state is set to certify Reedley’s housing element, giving the city another tool to guide its future growth.

The 2023-2031 Housing Element, which is a comprehensive housing plan mandated by the state, was adopted by the Reedley City Council on April 9 after receiving conditional approval from the state in February. Finalizing the housing element means the city can now focus on implementing other changes that will further help attract housing developers to the area.

“We really want to look at where we can have a refresher to our policies, goals and objectives that will make Reedley even more of a desirable place for development activity to continue,” Community Development Director Rodney Horton said.

Horton said the housing element is basically like a city’s general plan — which outlines where in the city neighborhoods, commercial areas, parks and more will be — but focused solely on housing. It identifies Reedley’s housing needs, finds adequate development sites, studies where low- and high-density housing development could take place and discusses various challenges to growth. 

Something in particular that Reedley often prides itself on its business-friendly policies, and having an updated housing element is an important piece of that; it provides valuable data to developers looking to build within the city, allowing them to easily see where housing demand is, Horton said. 

More than administrative busywork, it informs city leaders, representatives and residents on what to expect and plan for to help Reedley be the best it can be. 

“It’s an essential document, … (and) we’re fortunate that we were able to get it done in a fairly short period of time,” Horton said.

Drafting the future

Drafting the 2023-2031 Housing Element was a multi-jurisdictional effort between all cities in Fresno County except Clovis, Horton said. The process involved coordinating with and supporting other cities, consulting with the California-based planning firm PlaceWorks and conducting extensive outreach within Reedley to gather community feedback. 

Reedley is one of the first cities in Fresno County to adopt its housing element, and Horton said a lot of the credit for that goes toward the consultant team and work by Reedley City Planner Ellen Moore and Assistant City Planner Laura Friesen. 

Horton went on to explain it can be valuable for residents to read the housing element because of the funding and time that the city put into it; Reedley’s share of the housing element cost about $121,000, but the overall effort cost close to $2 million.

“It’s public money, and so that I think the residents are owed an opportunity to make sure they know what their city is doing and what their city is planning for in the future,” Horton said.

Further, the housing element can be helpful for residents to understand the reasoning behind new developments, including development type, like single-family homes compared to apartment complexes, and the location of a proposed development. 

“For residents to be able to review this new housing element, they’ll have a greater idea as to the limitations placed on their local government when it comes to the review of potential future housing projects we come across,” Horton said. 

The extensive research and community feedback that went into drafting the housing element allowed the city to look closely at its housing goals and policies, as well as what it needs to work on to “help the shortcomings we have when it comes to availability of housing,” Horton said. 

Although developers and cities have said new laws and regulations coming out of the California State Legislature each year have hurt the ability for housing development to move along quickly, Horton said that there are a few different things that cities can do to not only attract developers to the area, but make it at least somewhat easier for them to bring new housing to life.

Reedley has been working on streamlining some of its processes for reviewing proposed developments and is also working on updating various standards that have been shown to hold up development in the past, Horton said. For example, the city is looking to reduce the parking space requirement for multi-unit development projects, which can help save space and make it easier to create a site plan for the proposed development.

Now that the housing element update is complete, the community development department is turning its attention to a comprehensive update to the Reedley Zoning Code and Subdivision Regulations; a public review draft of the update is currently available on the city website.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter