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Riverside approves Phase 1 of rezoning plans

On Tuesday, Riverside City Council adopted Phase 1 of their General Plan to comply with California’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment’s (RHNA) 2021-2029 Housing Element Cycle. The council voted 5 to 2 to approve the plan, with Councilmembers Chuck Conder and Jim Perry being the only ones to vote no.

The plan will now add plots that could accommodate over 18,000 units. If the city did not comply, it would have resulted in a lawsuit from the state following the deadline.

Councilmember Erin Edwards (Ward 1) spoke during the session and said she had visited all the sites in her ward. She said 39% (8,338 units) of the units approved were contained within her ward. She said she was proud to be in a ward, “that can accept and support so much housing that is so very needed in our city.”

But not all council members were thrilled with this move. Councilmember Chuck Conder said, “Welcome to Communist California. I am sick and tired of this state’s overreach of its government actions against us. I will no longer bow to Governor Newsom, a known corrupt, lawless politician.”

He added, “Do we need more housing? Absolutely, but I believe in property rights, and I believe a person’s quality of life should not be destroyed by an uncaring government.”

Many residents shared a similar distaste with the general plan. Nancy Margie lives in Ward 3 and said she was speaking on behalf of 700 households. She said, “History matters, in the scramble to infill every empty piece of land in our community, the keys to the city should be given to the neighbors, rather than the builders whose interest is not the preservation of character or style in our wonderful city.”

According to Matthew Taylor, a Senior Planner with Riverside, not all sites are “going to necessarily develop during this eight-year cycle, or they may develop with few units than we expect them to.” 

That means that the properties may now be rezoned, but that doesn’t mean there will be new housing immediately. It would take the work of outside developers for change to happen.

The city’s documentation for Tuesday’s meeting has over 100 linked documents, including maps of lots the city will be rezoning.