Bay Area Cities Largely Miss Housing Element Deadline

Only four Bay Area cities have won the state’s approval for their housing elements, which are required to meet the state’s ambitious housing production targets.

2 minute read

February 12, 2023, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

Sundry Photography / Oakland, California

With the January 31 deadline for having housing elements approved by the state come and gone, dozens of California cities will see some of their zoning codes voided under the formerly little-known ‘builder’s remedy’ law, which allows affordable housing projects to bypass local zoning laws.

According to an article by Jack Rogers in Globe St., of the 30 San Francisco Bay Area cities and counties to submit plans (out of 109), only four have had their plans approved by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). “HCD made it clear that it will not rubber-stamp these housing plans when it notified Oakland this week that it has rejected the city’s plan—which exceeded the state’s 26K housing goal for the city by pledging to create 36K new housing units in Oakland.” The HCD rejected the plan, asking the city for proof that the sites it identified for potential affordable housing had a “realistic chance” of development. “The housing regulators also told the Oakland it would need to create a program to track the city’s progress in meeting its state-mandated housing goal, SiliconValley reported.” 

The builder’s remedy is one consequence of California’s crackdown on cities that fail to create housing elements that meet the state’s targets for new housing construction, known as the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). Cities without approved housing elements can also lose access to state funding sources. San Francisco, one of the four cities to have its plan approved, proposes rezoning that will permit 82,000 new homes in the city.

Already, attempts to use the builder’s remedy have faced legal opposition. A court decision that stalled a 500-unit San Francisco project last October could pave the way for similar actions from opponents of development.

Friday, February 10, 2023 in Globe St.

View of Mount Hood at golden hour with Happy Valley, Oregon homes in foreground.

Clackamas County Votes to Allow ADUs, Residential RVs

County officials hope the zoning changes will help boost the housing supply in the region.

June 18, 2024 - Mountain Times

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

View of Palos Verdes Drive along Pacific Ocean in Palos Verdes, California at sunset.

Erosion Threatens SoCal Road, Lloyd Wright Icon

The city of Palos Verdes is closing parts of a roadway to cyclists, citing safety concerns as the land underneath moves between 7 and 12 inches per week.

6 hours ago - Daily Breeze

Faded image of vacant storefront in rural area with American flag stars painteind on windows.

COVID Isn’t to Blame for the Retail Vacancy Crisis

A drop in demand for retail space began well before the seismic shifts of the pandemic.

June 23 - Slate

Heavy New York City traffic headed toward Holland Tunnel in Manhattan.

Judge Rules in Favor of MTA in Congestion Pricing Suit

Advocates of the program are calling on Gov. Hochul to reinstate the program in light of the decision.

June 23 - StreetsBlog NYC

City Planner I

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner II

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner Supervisor

Department of Housing and Community Development

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.