Methodology emphasizes equity for projected 441,000 additional housing units needed Bay Area wide
“Housing Element Law emphasizes that all Bay Area communities have to share the increased state planning number…” – ABAG President and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin
Public comment period begins Oct. 25
The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)’s Executive Board at its meeting Thursday evening, Oct. 15 passed the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) proposed methodology — a mathematical formula by which the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)’s requirement that the Bay Area plan for more than 441,000 additional housing units during the 2023-2031 RHNA cycle will be distributed among the region’s nine counties and 101 cities and towns. New state laws — as well as the region’s strong economy and related job and household growth over the past decade — are also a significant reason for the growth in HCD’s determination, which will require the Bay Area to plan for 253,000 more units than required in the 2015- 2023 RHNA cycle. ABAG RHNA 10-15-20
Under the proposed methodology, communities in Contra Costa County would be expected to add 43,942 housing units, about 10% of the total, during the time period, with Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Richmond and Concord being allocated the highest number of housing units. Communities in Santa Clara County would be expected to account for about one-third of all new units to be incorporated into the housing elements of Bay Area jurisdictions’ general plans, and San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland are expected to have the highest expected planning numbers for individual cities.
ABAG President and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin commented, “Housing Element Law emphasizes that all Bay Area communities have to share the increased state planning numbers. The adopted proposed methodology is the best way to share the housing responsibility among all our region’s local governments, to encourage housing in areas with good access to jobs and in locations designated by the state as high-opportunity areas, and to meet fair housing and greenhouse gas reduction requirements.”
With the Executive Board’s action, ABAG on Oct. 25 will open a public comment period on the proposed RHNA methodology. The comment period will include a public hearing at the Thursday, Nov. 12 meeting of ABAG’s Regional Planning Committee, after which both the committee and the Executive Board will again weigh in on the methodology. If approved, ABAG will submit this draft methodology to HCD for review, likely in January 2021, and then use the state agency’s recommendations to develop a final methodology and draft RHNA allocation in spring 2021. Release of the draft allocation would then kick off an appeals period in the summer of 2021, with the final RHNA allocation assigned to each of the Bay Area’s local governments in late 2021.
According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, “Since 1969, California has required that all local governments (cities and counties) adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. California’s local governments meet this requirement by adopting housing plans as part of their ‘general plan’ (also required by the state). General plans serve as the local government’s ‘blueprint’ for how the city and/or county will grow and develop and include seven elements: land use, transportation, conservation, noise, open space, safety, and housing. The law mandating that housing be included as an element of each jurisdiction’s general plan is known as ‘housing-element law.’
California’s housing-element law acknowledges that, in order for the private market to adequately address the housing needs and demand of Californians, local governments must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for (and do not unduly constrain), housing development. As a result, housing policy in California rests largely on the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements.” Each of the regions in the state must develop a plan for their Regional Housing Needs Allocation and Housing Elements.
The allocation methodology is a formula for accommodating the Bay Area’s total housing need by quantifying the number of housing units — separated into above-moderate, moderate, low and very-low income categories — that will be assigned to each city, town and county. The allocation must meet statutory objectives and be consistent with the forecasted development pattern from Plan Bay Area 2050. The final result of the RHNA process is the allocation of housing units by income category to each jurisdiction. Each local government must then update the Housing Element of its General Plan and its zoning to show how it can accommodate its RHNA allocation.
The proposed RHNA methodology was developed by ABAG’s Housing Methodology Committee (HMC) after nearly a year of meetings and technical analysis. The HMC process provided a forum for local elected officials, staff from city and county governments, various stakeholder groups, and members of the general public to formulate a data-driven proposal. Members of the HMC were selected from a diverse pool of applicants and included representatives from each of the nine Bay Area counties.
President Arreguin praised the HMC for its challenging work: “The proposed methodology represents a big accomplishment not only for the HMC or for ABAG, but also for our region. The committee members’ involvement in this complicated and sometimes contentious process brought together very diverse voices to develop a methodology that works for the entire Bay Area.”
Additional information about the proposed methodology and the RHNA process is available on ABAG’s website: https://abag.ca.gov/our-work/housing/rhna-regional-housing-needs-allocation.
Founded in 1961, ABAG is the regional planning agency for the Bay Area’s nine counties and 101 cities and towns, and is recognized as the first council of governments in California.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.