The County of Sonoma is updating its housing element as required by State law. The upcoming update is known as the 6th cycle. This process is an opportunity for the County to examine all the policies, market conditions, and other forces that contribute to there being enough homes for everyone in the community, regardless of income.
Under California law, the housing element is one of the seven mandated elements of the general plan and must be updated on a set schedule. A housing element is required by State law (“Housing Element law”) to establish policies and programs that will support the provision of an adequate housing supply for citizens of all income levels.
What are the components of a housing element?
The housing element typically includes:
- Housing Needs Assessment: Examine demographic, employment, and housing trends and conditions that affect the housing needs of the community.
- Evaluation of Past Performance: Review the prior housing element to measure progress in implementing policies and programs.
- Housing Sites Inventory: Identify locations of available sites for housing development or redevelopment to ensure that there is adequate capacity to address the Regional Housing Needs Allocation.
- Community Outreach and Engagement: Implement a robust community outreach and engagement program, with a particular focus on outreach to traditionally underrepresented groups.
- Constraints Analysis: Analyze and recommend remedies for existing and potential governmental and nongovernmental barriers to housing development.
- Policies and Programs: Establish policies and programs to fulfill the identified housing needs.
What happens if a jurisdiction does not adopt a housing element?
If a city or county does not comply with State law, it can be sued. In addition to facing significant fines, a court may limit local land use decision-making authority until the jurisdiction brings its housing element into compliance. Additionally, local governments may lose the right to deny certain projects. These and other consequences are established in state law; housing elements are subject to regulatory oversight by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.