The Housing Element of a jurisdiction’s General Plan is a State-mandated local plan for the existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community. Updated every eight years, the Housing Element must identify adequate sides for housing for people of all income levels to meet the needs identified in the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) for that community. cities must identify barriers to an adequate supply of safe, stable housing for all its residents and planned growth, and create concrete, actionable programs to mitigate or remove these barriers.
Beginning with Housing Elements due in 2021, local jurisdictions must also demonstrate that they are using their Housing Element to combat discrimination, overcome existing patterns of segregation, and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected characteristics such as race and ethnicity. HCD has recently released comprehensive guidance on how cities must incorporate the law, known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), into their Housing Element. Read a summary of HCD’s comments to jurisdictions on AFFH in Housing Elements.
Silicon Valley at Home urges local jurisdictions to draft and adopt Housing Elements that meet the following criteria:
- It should be a robust and thoughtful document that seeks new and innovative ways to meet the goals, not just plan for them.
- The sites identified for meeting the jurisdiction’s RHNA goals must be:
- Realistically able to accommodate development at the planned density
- Served by water, sewer and other infrastructure within 3 years of adoption of the Element
- Between 1 and 10 acres in size unless the jurisdiction can demonstrate that smaller and larger sites have been successfully developed in the past
- Consistent with the other criteria set forth in AB 1397 adopted in 2017.
- Include strategies for addressing the needs of different income levels, particularly households that are Extremely Low-Income (ELI), Moderate-Income, and other “missing middle” households in the Above-Moderate category.
- It should include policies that address the three Ps: Affordable Housing Production; Affordable Housing Preservation; and Tenant/Community Protection.
- It should include policies and tools to respond to the potential loss of income-restricted affordable housing at risk of conversion to market rates.
- It should include policies and tools to respond to the potential loss of naturally occurring affordable housing.
- It should identify policies on how the jurisdiction will respond to gentrification and displacement.
- It should identify ways to streamline processes that slow down the approval of housing developments.
- It should identify community concerns about new and/or higher density housing and include ways to address those concerns.
- It should conform to the “No Net Loss” provisions of SB 166 (2017 Session) irrespective of whether the jurisdiction is a charter city or a general law jurisdiction.
- It should identify, and plan for, the use of surplus city properties.
- It should determine the local need for Extremely Low-Income (ELI) housing and plan for solutions.
- It should determine the local need for Missing Middle housing options and plan for solutions.