February 29, 2024

Housing Element Update 02/29


A state-certified Housing Element is only the beginning of the work

Sunnyvale: On February 12, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) sent its fourth formal comment letter to the City of Sunnyvale in response to the City’s Adopted 2023-2031 Housing Element released in December 2023. Although the Adopted Housing Element was initially found to meet statutory requirements, the City’s recent By-Right Housing Approvals ordinance did not, as it did not rezone all of the parcels the City committed to in the Housing Element. State law is very clear, and HCD has reiterated that local jurisdictions must follow the programs in their Housing Elements, including rezoning. The deadline for Sunnyvale to complete rezoning was January 31, 2024, so its Housing Element is now noncompliant.

The City has introduced an urgency ordinance to the Planning Commission and City Council to correct this issue. The Housing Element will now return to HCD for review, and if compliant with state law, certification.

Los Gatos: The Town of Los Gatos, which still does not have a state-certified Housing Element, is continuing a recent and distressing trend of walking back commitments made in previous drafts. On February 6th, the Town revised draft language in its fifth Draft Housing Element to further restrict where small multi-unit housing, intended to boost housing production at a lower cost and expand access to exclusive areas, could be built. Rather than take responsibility for missing the statutory deadline for a certified housing element by more than a year, the town council blamed HCD for taking two weeks to respond to an informal request for feedback. HCD is only obligated to respond to formal submissions and has 60 days to do so under statute, but they responded to the informal request in only two weeks, demonstrating their commitment to helping the Town achieve a compliant Housing Element. SV@Home also stands ready to assist the Town of Los Gatos with achieving a Housing Element that complies with state law.

Cupertino: The City of Cupertino has released a third Draft Housing Element for public review and sent it to HCD for review on February 23rd. The new Draft is a substantial improvement over the first two drafts and underlines a recent shift in priorities for the City, which is in the process of overcoming a history of blocking much-needed housing development. The Draft was released just prior to the entitlement of the mixed-use Vallco development, which promises to deliver 2,669 units of housing, including 890 units affordable to very low-income or low-income households earning annual incomes less than 80% of the area median income. Learn more about the Vallco development. 

San Jose: On the heels of achieving Housing Element certification, San Jose also reached an important agreement with a local developer to abandon a Builder’s Remedy project that would have delivered only a fraction of the homes that were already approved for the site. Learn more about what it took to regain a real high-density development for the Berryessa BART station.