VWA Projects

Housing Elements and Plans

Cities and counties submit updated Housing Elements on a regular cycle mandated by the State of California. A Housing Element is the only chapter in a General Plan that is required under California Law. Housing Elements are intended to remove governmental constraints from the development of new housing and to encourage communities to provide affordable housing.

VWA has prepared Housing Elements for the Cities of Sebastopol, Menlo Park, and Healdsburg. In addition, VWA has worked as part of a team on the following Housing Element updates:

  • Clayton
  • Folsom
  • Lake County
  • Madera County
  • Oakland
  • Sonoma
  • South Lake Tahoe
  • South San Francisco
  • Union City
  • Windsor
  • Woodland

The Consolidated Plan is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development mandated plan for communities applying for CDBG and other federal housing funds. Clients for whom VWA has prepared Consolidated Plans include the following:

  • Alameda County HOME Consortium
  • Contra Costa County HOME Cons
  • Modesto
  • Oakland
  • Richmond
  • San Mateo County HOME Consortium
  • Stanislaus County HOME Consortium
  • Yuba City

VWA also prepares Affordable Housing Plans that serve as guides for housing program implementation. VWA has prepared plans for the following jurisdictions:

  • Dublin
  • Healdsburg
  • Menlo Park
  • Monterey County
  • Payson, Arizona

Inclusionary Housing Ordinances

VWA assists cities in adopting or modifying Inclusionary Housing Ordinances and Below Market Rate Housing Programs. Recent project examples include:

  • WoodlandPreparation of Program Guidelines
  • Union CityTechnical Assistance with Inclusionary Housing Ordinance and Housing Element Update
  • South San FranciscoEvaluation of Proposed Inclusionary Housing Program
  • Menlo ParkRevised Guidelines for the Below Market Rate Program
  • Mountain ViewDevelopment of a Below Market Rate Program

Nexus and In-Lieu Fee Studies

Studies that demonstrate a connection between proposed new residential and non-residential development and the need for more affordable housing are referred to as Nexus Studies. Since the early 1990’s, California cities have increasingly turned to housing and commercial linkage fees to provide funds for affordable housing development. In order to protect these programs from legal challenges, cities undertake nexus studies to demonstrate the relationship between new development and demand for housing.

In addition, to determine the maximum possible in-lieu fees that can be charged on market rate development, fee studies are required. These studies focus on the difference between the costs of new housing development and affordable rents and sales prices.

VWA’s Nexus and In-Lieu Fee Studies include:

  • The City of Elk Grove adopted a Housing Impact Fee on new residential development in October 2002. VWA conducted a Nexus Study and a Housing Impact Fee Study for the City in order to justify the recommended fee.
  • The City of Sunnyvale has imposed a Housing Mitigation Fee on new industrial development in selected areas of the City since the 1980’s. VWA conducted a Commercial Linkage Nexus Study to update the City’s fee.
  • The City of Sebastopol revised its Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance in Fall 2002. VWA assisted this effort by conducting an in-lieu fee study.
  • The City of Menlo Park adopted a Commercial Linkage Fee in the late 1980’s. In 2000, VWA conducted a Nexus Study to update this fee.
  • The City of Union City adopted an in-lieu fee based on VWA’s analyses.

Funding Applications

VWA is familiar with financing programs for affordable housing, such as federal and state Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Federal Home Loan Bank’s AHP, and tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds. The firm is also experienced with special financing programs for seniors and persons with disabilities, such as the Section 202 and Section 811 programs.

Examples of funding applications prepared by VWA include the following:

  • Section 202 applications for two projects sponsored by American Baptist Homes of the West (San Luis Obispo and San Leandro), which HUD selected for funding, as well as applications for HOME funds.
  • Several Federal Home Loan Bank AHP applications.
  • Oakland Housing Authority’s HOPE VI Applications for the Chestnut Court and Coliseum Gardens Projects.
  • Contra Costa County Housing Authority’s HOPE VI Application for Las Deltas, North Richmond

Redevelopment Planning

VWA provides many services to California redevelopment agencies. These include property tax studies, preparation of Implementation Plans required by the State of California, and assessment of developers’ requests for financial assistance for commercial and residential projects. Examples of recent studies include the following:

Property Tax Studies

  • City of Pittsburg - Tax Allocation Analysis of California Power Plants
  • City of Oakland, Community and Economic Development AgencyTax Increment Estimates for the Oakland Coliseum Project Area
  • Watsonville Redevelopment Agency - Review of Tax Increment Revenues
  • Santa Cruz Redevelopment Agency - Tax Increment Revenue Study

Implementation Plans

  • Manteca
  • Menlo Park
  • Milpitas
  • Monterey County
  • Ontario
  • Pittsburg
  • Windsor
  • Sonoma County

Public/Private Financing Agreements

  • City of Clayton - Financial Assistance for Diamond Terrace, a Senior Residential Facility
  • City of LafayetteFinancial Assistance for Town Center, a Mixed-Use Development Adjacent to a BART Station
  • City of Milpitas Redevelopment Agency Financial Assistance for a 44-unit, Sweat-Equity Single Family Development
  • City FolsomFinancial Assistance for the Retail Component of the East Folsom Specific Area Plan

Market Studies

VWA conducts market studies to support subsidized housing development proposals. This work encompasses specialized market studies required by funding application regulations as well as full-blown feasibility studies that include focus groups, questionnaires, and financial analysis.

Tax Credit Market Studies

  • Eden Housing Market Studies for Petaluma’s Downtown River Apartments and Victoria Family Housing in Hercules
  • Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC)Rent Comparability Study for Namiki Apartments, San Francisco
  • Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC)Market Studies for the Alexander Residence, Dalt Hotel, and West Hotel, San Francisco
  • Resources for Community Development (RCD)Market Study for International Boulevard Family Housing, Phase II, Oakland

Other Affordable Housing Market Studies

  • Omaha Housing Authority (Nebraska) - Preparation of Market Study and Recommendations Concerning the Omaha Housing Authority’s Elderly Towers
  • Resources for Community Development - City of Richmond, Multifamily Market Study and Rent Survey

Market Feasibility Studies

  • City of Menlo Park Oak Grove Project Design Concept
  • Catholic Charities Housing Development Corporation - Market Analysis of a Downtown Oakland Mixed Use Project


Fiscal Studies

VWA has analyzed fiscal impacts associated with both small and large projects. Recent project examples include the following:

  • City of Menlo ParkDevelopment of Fiscal Impact Model
  • City of Pittsburg - Fiscal Impact Analysis of the San Marco Project
  • Alpine County (Kirkwood Resort) - Fiscal Impact Analysis of the Expansion of Kirkwood Mountain Resort
  • City of Brentwood - Fiscal Impact Assessment of Proposed Cowell Ranch Development
  • City of Sebastopol, Planning Department - Fiscal Impact Analysis of a Proposed Business Park