New affordable homes at the Berryessa BART station
June 29, 2023

5th Cycle Housing Element Recap


The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has released cities’ progress toward their housing goals through the end of 2022- just one month short of the end of the 8-year cycle. The results show we have collectively failed to build the affordable housing we need across the county. The chart below shows a consistent pattern of performance across Santa Clara County’s large and midsize cities: affordable housing production (red, orange, and yellow bars) significantly trails production of market-rate homes (blue bars) in almost every jurisdiction. While financing the number of affordable homes we need in Silicon Valley is incredibly challenging in our current environment, there are clear steps cities can take to remove barriers and encourage production. SV@Home will be working together with housing advocates in the new planning cycle to hold cities accountable for doing this work. Learn more about the progress of your local jurisdiction on our Cities & Public Agencies pages, or view a table that compares the RHNA progress of all the Santa Clara County jurisdictions.

Moving into the 6th cycle: What’s different?

The 6th 8-year planning cycle, which began in the Bay Area on February 1, 2023, has the potential to be far more successful than the 5th cycle at generating the affordable homes we need– but its success depends on housing advocates staying engaged in their communities. Since the last planning cycle, California’s legislators have passed housing-forward legislation intended to help Housing Elements generate more affordable housing, address patterns of racial and economic segregation, and meet the unique housing needs of cities’ residents at every income level. For the first time, there are real consequences for cities that do not follow the plans they have made in their Housing Elements, including reduced land use control, steep fines, and legal action. Housing advocates can help by tracking the Housing Element policies that are important to them and communicating with HCD when cities fall short.

The consequences of noncompliance in the South Bay are growing for jurisdictions

The majority of the cities in Santa Clara County do not have Housing Elements that are certified by HCD as required by state law. Because the deadline has passed, these cities lose significant land use control and access to a variety of state housing and infrastructure grants. So far this year, at least 34 Builder’s Remedy projects (projects that cannot be denied by cities with noncompliant housing elements) with more than 6,400 housing units have been proposed in the Bay Area, including in San Jose (15 projects), Mountain View (5 projects), Palo Alto (3 projects), and Los Altos Hills (3 projects). Read SV@Home’s blog post about what else can happen when cities fail to adopt a compliant Housing Element by the deadline.

What is the Housing Element?

Housing Elements are a critically important 8-year plan each California jurisdiction must create to meet the housing needs of all its residents at all income levels. Learn more in SV@Home’s Housing Element Toolkit!