SAN JOSE, Calif. – Oct. 3, 2022 – Last Thursday, the California Department of Housing and Community Development, sent a 12-page letter to the City of Mountain View outlining how the draft housing plan submitted in July would require substantial revisions to comply with State law. SV@Home, and local housing advocates have been expressing concerns for months that cities throughout Santa Clara County are falling short of state requirements and will have to do a lot more work to get their plan certified before state sanctions kick in.
The 8-year plan, called the Housing Element Update, requires a major public planning process to determine housing needs, develop specific programs to remove barriers to development and risks of displacement, and to detail plans for the location of new affordable homes. The letter indicates that Mountain View has fallen short in each of these areas.
“We have had concerns for some time that cities around the Santa Clara County were going to fall short of compliance,” said Regina Celestin Williams, Executive Director for SV@Home. “Given the dire affordable housing needs of our communities, we cannot afford to get this wrong. While Mountain View’s letter was not a surprise, it really spells out how much additional time and work it is going to take to meet the State’s requirements. The plan must have specific policies and outcomes, responding directly to current housing needs and our history of underserving low-income and communities of color throughout the State. We are in a housing crisis – everyone should have a safe, affordable place to live. We hope this letter serves as a wakeup call to jurisdictions, our necessary partners in this work.”
“The Housing Element process provides every city an opportunity to plan thoughtfully for housing growth over the next eight years,” said Mountain View Mayor Lucas Ramirez. “Each jurisdiction is empowered to determine how best to meet the housing needs of its community, with public participation a key component of the process. However, the Housing Element is no longer the paper exercise it used to be. We have known for a long time that the expectations are high, and I encourage all cities to approach the process in good faith and make a sincere effort to address our regional housing crisis.”
Every Jurisdiction in the Bay Area is required to submit a final, compliant Housing Element to the state by January, 31, 2023. Mountain View’s Draft Housing Element was the first to be submitted from Santa Clara County and the first to be measured against the new, more stringent, state requirements, but the expectations have long been clear. If the local Housing Elements are not fully certified by May 2023, the state will apply sanctions. Read about the concerns SV@Home expressed to Mountain View before it submitted its Housing Element to the state.
In other parts of the state, with earlier deadlines, deficiency letters like the one sent to Mountain View have been available for review for well over a year, and many jurisdictions have been working for months and even years to produce compliant plans. In the San Diego region, where the submission deadline was April 15, 2021 – nearly 18 months ago – only 40 percent of cities have plans that met compliance standards. In the Los Angeles area, which had a deadline of last October, barely 25% of jurisdictions have approved plans. (see p.12, HCD Dashboard here.)
In its letter, HCD, reiterated the importance of ongoing public participation as the plan is revised, “including organizations that represent lower-income and special needs households,” and its commitment to assisting Mountain View “in addressing all statutory requirements of State Housing Element Law.” Local advocates, who along with SV@Home, provided written recommendations to City staff, which were later forwarded to the state, see an opportunity.
“We’re gratified to see that HCD took our concerns seriously.” said David Watson, of Mountain View YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard). “We look forward to working with the city to look for opportunities for Mountain View to grow.
Additional Information on Housing Elements in Santa Clara County – SV@Home Housing Element Tool Kit
SV@Home is the voice for affordable housing in Silicon Valley. A membership organization, SV@Home, advocates for policies, programs, land use, and funding that lead to an increased supply of affordable housing. Additionally, SV@Home educates elected officials and the community about the need for housing and the link between housing and other quality of life outcomes, including education, health, transportation, and the environment. To learn more, visit www.siliconvalleyathome.org