The City Council is set to review and consider the 2014-2022 Housing Element at their meeting tomorrow night. Every city in California is required to have a Housing Element as part of their General Plan.
The Housing Element must be updated about every five years. The update is designed to explain how much progress the city made in meeting regional housing needs over the past five years and identify policy changes and available sites for meeting housing needs in the future.
The State assigns each city with a number and type of housing unit(s) to be “achievable” under City policies through a process called the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).
“The RHNA is the State-mandated process to identify the number of housing units by affordability level that each jurisdiction must accommodate in the Housing Element of its General Plan. The “fair share” represents a distribution of housing development capacity that each city (and county) must provide, through appropriately zoned areas during a given planning period. Cities are expected to provide policies to provide an environment where such development is viable.” – Staff Report
Concord’s RHNA for the 2014-2022 period is 3,478 units. Those unit goals are broken into income categories – see Table 1.
Fortunately, the city has adequate sites identified and properly zoned to accommodate the number of units required in each income category. The sites relied upon to meet Concord’s RHNA this cycle do not include any potential future development at the Concord Base Reuse Project.
Both the Planning Commission and City Council considered several potential policy changes to increase the viability of future housing projects in Concord. Several policies – like reducing the parking requirements for Transit Oriented Development projects and increasing affordable housing fees – are recommended for further study. Increasing the feasibility of adding Secondary Living Units in single-family neighborhoods is also recommended.
The loss of Concord’s Redevelopment Program has reduced and almost eliminated funding for affordable housing projects and programs. The City’s draft Housing Element proposes several policies – like increasing public/private partnerships and making an effort to reduce city and special district fees on Secondary Units.
The City’s consultant – BAE Urban Economics – was charged with reviewing the past Housing Element, investigating site availability for housing and documenting demographic trends. Their report is full of interesting information useful for both residents and business owners.