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Southern California cities facing enormous increases in the number of homes the state wants them to build over the next decade soon will be able to appeal their “RHNA allocations” under a massive transportation and land-use adopted Thursday, Sept. 3.
In reMeeting virtually over Zoom, the Southern California Association of Governments, or SCAG, voted unanimously to approve its “Connect SoCal” plan, which among many other things seeks to encourage higher-density housing near jobs and mass transit over the next quarter century.
Population, household and job forecasts contained in the report serve as the basis how many new homes each of the region’s six counties and 191 cities must zone for by October 2029 under the state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment process, or RHNA (pronounced Reena).
“Approval of Connect SoCal allows the RHNA process to move forward,” said SCAG President Rex Richardson, a Long Beach city council member.
SCAG staff will now notify each jurisdiction of its “draft allocation” of new homes. Local governments that disagree with those allocations will be able to appeal those allocations starting Sept. 11.
“I am expecting considerable number of appeals based on comments made during meetings,” said Yorba Linda City Council member Peggy Huang, who chairs SCAG’s RHNA subcommittee, which makes allocation adjustments after hearing local appeals. “Many jurisdictions believe their local input was ignored.”
Housing allocations are broken down by four income types to ensure each jurisdiction provides adequate affordable housing for low-income residents.
Some local leaders were taken aback last fall when the first drafts of city-by-city allocations.
For example, the state Department of Housing and Community Development determined last year that Southern California’s housing goals should be triple what they were in the latest RHNA cycle, which ends in October 2021. In all, the region must provide sufficient zoning for of more than 1.3 million new homes by the end of 2029, housing officials determined.
That’s nearly as many rooftops as Orange and Ventura counties combined have now.
For Los Angeles County, the current “draft allocation” would require more than 813,000 new homes by late 2029, or almost five times more than its 2021 goal of 180,000 homes.Orange County would have to plan for more than 183,000, vs. 38,000 by 2021. And the Inland Empire allocation would jump to nearly 305,000 homes by 2029, vs. a 2021 RHNA goal of just under 159,000.
The appeals will be heard by SCAG’s RHNA subcommittee in December and January, and final allocations for each jurisdiction will be adopted after adjustments in February.After the allocations are final, local jurisdictions will have until October 2021 to update their “housing elements,” or portions of their general plan indicating where each type of housing should go.
If cities fail to include the allocated housing in their plans, state officials will issuing findings of non-compliance.
In 2019, Newsom made headlines when he sued Huntington Beach for not having an approved housing element, costing the Orange County city millions of dollars in lost state grants for parks, homeless shelters and other state-supported programs. Dozens of other non-compliant cities rushed to get their plans approved under threat of further state lawsuits.
Meanwhile, Huang, the RHNA subcommittee chair, urged SCAG members on Thursday to convene a litigation committee to challenge the state housing department’s determination that Southern California needs 1.3 million new homes over the next decade.
Huang cited a new Freddie Mac report that California has a total housing shortfall of 820,000 homes, vs. state and private studies finding the state will need 1.8 million to 3.5 million new homes by 2025.
“We should be looking at appealing our 1.3 million allocation,” Huang said.