Status Report to Session
July 28, 2022
In the fall of 2020, Session received a presentation by representatives of HumanGood, a nonprofit that develops affordable housing, on how our land might be used for a mid-market housing development. In response, Session asked the Ministry & Resources (M&R) team to explore land use options. M&R appointed a Land Use Exploratory Committee (LUEC) composed of Sara Grignon, Ashley Gonzalez, Liam Hanson, Joe Don Heath, Timblin Kelleher, Rev. Hardy Kim, Dave Morley (who resigned when his Session term expired), Jim Shaver, and Barry Vickrey (chair).
For the past several months, the LUEC has been studying how to use our land to support the church’s mission. This includes responding to the housing crisis in our area and generating income for church operations.
The committee has met with the following persons, who have relevant expertise:
• Brian Lloyd, Vice President, and Peggy Lichthart, Development Director-Northern California, Beacon Development Group, a subsidiary of HumanGood
• Bobbie Hubbard, SVPC member and board member of Sunnyvale Life, Inc., a nonprofit which built Life’s Garden, a residential facility for low-income seniors managed by HumanGood, as a ministry project of SVPC
• Rev. Jake Medcalf, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Hayward and founder of Firm Foundation Community Housing, which supports development of low-income housing
• Rev. Dr. Theresa Cho, pastor, St. John's Presbyterian Church, San Francisco, who chairs a committee of the Presbytery of San Francisco which is dealing with church land redevelopment
• Maggie Harmon, Southwest Region Ministry Relations Officer, Presbyterian Foundation
The chair has also spoken with Ruby Ramirez from People Acting in Community Together (PACT) and Sharine Xuan, founder and executive director of Elevate Community Center. Both mentioned Destination Home (https://destinationhomesv.org/) as a valuable resource, and Sharine offered to introduce us to staff there if we want to pursue funding for a low-income housing project. Sharine also mentioned HomeFirst Services of Santa Clara County and PATH as resources.
The LUEC has identified several options that we might consider, including:
• Using existing facilities to serve the community and fulfill the mission of the church
• Expansion of PELC and The Music School
• Building tiny homes for the homeless
• Building a low-income housing development
• Building a mid-market housing development, possibly in cooperation with local school systems
• As part of any new development, providing new and better space for church programs
We have also identified several challenges that we are likely to encounter, including:
• Compliance with current zoning ordinances and other governmental regulations
• Resistance from neighbors
• The rapidly increasing cost of construction
• The financing complexities of low-income housing developments
• Uncertainty about the financial viability of mid-market housing developments
One source of financing may be denominational entities, some of which have substantial funds that they might be willing to invest. Government and nonprofit grants may also be available. For any substantial development project, the church would almost certainly need to partner with an entity that has experience with financing and governmental compliance.
Last January, the LUEC facilitated a discussion with Rev. Medcalf at the Session retreat.
The LUEC believes that we are now ready to conduct a land use inventory that will catalogue our current land use and analyze how it relates to our mission, that will identify community opportunities and needs, and that will estimate the costs and identify funding sources for specific options. This inventory will require the input of Session members, the broader church community, and representatives of the wider community we serve.
Ashley Gonzalez, who is an architect, has volunteered to lead the land use inventory process. Our plan is to complete this inventory for review by Session by the end of the calendar year.
Summaries of the conversations with experts and other LUEC materials are available here.