On California's Broken Housing Requirement System
"Liam Dillon reports on the failure of California's Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) law, which has been in place since 1967 but has done almost nothing to mitigate the state's deep housing crisis.
"The law requires cities and counties to produce prodigious reports to plan for housing — but it doesn’t hold them accountable for any resulting home building," explains Dillon of the fundamental shortcoming of the law. Foster City Councilmember Herb Perez described the city's housing policies, in reaction to the state law, in more frank terms at a 2015 City Council meeting, calling it an elaborate shell game. "Because we’re kind of lying," said Perez. "It’s the only word I can come up with. We have no intention of actually building the units."
Dillon is revisiting the debate about the RHNA law because the state is currently considering legislation that would "force cities and counties that have fallen behind on their housing goals to take steps to eliminate some of the hurdles they put in front of development, such as multiple planning reviews for individual projects." The legislation, by State Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) has cleared the State Senate "and is awaiting a vote in the Assembly as part of a package of bills aimed at addressing the state’s housing problems," reports Dillon.
After addressing the shortcomings of the RHNA law at the conceptual level, Dillon also drills down on the outright abuses, and some of the more casual neglect, that local governments get away with in meeting the requirements of the RHNA.