ORINDA -- A discussion this week about state-mandated requirements designed to make future housing growth gentler to the environment drew fire from local residents, including one who likened the plan to a cancer.

"It should be thrown out," said resident Herb Brown, as he railed against an ambitious state plan to ensure cities provide adequate housing as they cut down on greenhouses gases. Known as the Sustainable Communities Strategy, the plan is the core of SB 375, a bill passed in 2008 that calls for environmentally-friendly transportation and housing growth.

Brown expressed his displeasure as officials gathered this week to talk about a revision to the number of new households Orinda will be required to accommodate under the Regional Housing Need Allocation. According to agencies overseeing the Sustainable Communities Strategy and its grant-funding arm One Bay Area, Orinda will need to make sure there is available land for 590 households over the next 30 years, 177 of which are to be located in the city's bifurcated downtown.

That 590 number is more in line with the city's general plan, officials say, than a previous scenario painted by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission that projected 1,920 households over three decades, 1,344 of which were to be at the Crossroads and Orinda Village.

City leaders have expressed their concerns about the number of households expected in downtown, and about conflicts with the city's general plan and physical constraints to development.

Officials also discussed a trend toward providing more affordable housing during the next eight years under the housing element. Of the 226 units projected for 2014-2022, 84 are expected to be those with very low income levels.

Council member Sue Severson asked Planning Director Emmanuel Ursu if previous or existing projects such as the Eden Senior Housing development would be counted toward the city's low-income housing allocation requirements. Ursu said they would. And while council members said they were pleased with the reduced requirements, they acknowledged that hurdles remain; the city may need to rezone more land to accommodate a greater number of lower income non-senior housing.

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