Posted on April 13, 2022
Moraga encourages residents to participate in housing element decisions with the Balancing Act tool
Example of multi-family dwelling Photo provided

California municipalities are poised to enter the 6th cycle housing element between 2023 and 2031. The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) for Moraga, as determined by the Association of Governments of the Bay Area (ABAG), requires the city to offer 1,118 units to fulfill its assigned quota. Of the units needed, 318 are for very low income, 183 are low income, 172 are moderate income, and 445 are above moderate income units.

In an effort to engage city residents regarding potential housing sites and proposed densities, the Planning Department recently hosted three community engagement events for this purpose. On March 25, a walking tour of Opportunity Sites took place in the specific plan areas of Moraga Center and Rheem Mall. Maps were provided during the combined 1.5 mile tour and city staff were on hand with explanations and demonstrations of the Balancing Act tool (an online community housing simulator).

The town also held two community meetings. The first was held in person on March 30 at Hacienda de Las Flores, while the second took place via Zoom on March 31. The purpose of all meetings was to briefly explain Moraga’s RHNA requirements and to coach participants on how to use the tool.

According to the city’s website, “Balancing Act is an online mapping tool that allows residents to provide information on the most suitable locations to potentially develop additional housing in the Moraga community. Based on projections and of the projects currently under development, Moraga has a shortfall of 800 units to meet its housing needs of 1,118. The Balancing Act tool allows residents to “click” on each of the sub-areas and use the “plus” and “minus” tools to add virtual housing units to each zone. The number of units that can be assigned to each sub-zone is capped to avoid putting all units in a single zone. ‘a player reaches 800 units, he receives the “You have a housing plan!” message.

During the Zoom meeting on March 31, members of the city’s planning department – Director of Planning Afshan Hamid, Assistant Planner Mio Mendez, Associate Planner Brian Horn and Administrative Assistant Suzie Mele – were on hand with Advanced Planning Initiative consultant Barry Miller to answer questions and guide participants. through the use of the Balancing Act tool and the distribution of units in 11 designated areas of the city. The tool includes maps of each potential area with visible landmarks, making it easy for users to see the areas in question.

Residents had the usual questions regarding emergency escape routes; if there would be more retail outlets (i.e. another grocery store) to serve the needs of a larger population; and rush hour traffic jams.

The Balancing Act tool is available through April 23, and the city encourages all residents to participate in determining Moraga’s future housing locations. For more information or to participate in the Balance Act, visit: www.makemoragahome.org.