Housing Wake Up Call Coming for Regions, Cities

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It was described at the time as a low-profile or “sleeper” housing bill in the midst of a raft of much higher profile and more controversial legislation. But SB 828 (Wiener), which the Bay Area Council sponsored, is waking up some local officials. The 2018 legislation revised the process by which the state allocates the number of housing units a city must create to keep pace with demand through what is called the Regional Housing Needs Assessments (RHNA) process. No longer can cities start at zero with each new RHNA cycle if they fail to meet their obligation. Any housing units a city fails to create from the previous cycle now get added to the current cycle.

The Southern California Association of Governments was the first region to get its wake up call last month. Expecting a number around 500,000, SCAG’s allocation totaled 1.3 million new housing units. In order to meet these expectations, cities will have to considerably upzone their designated housing sites or take other actions to spur new housing, which is good news indeed. The Bay Area can expect its wake-up call in September 2020. And there’s no snooze button. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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