What’s Involved in Updating the Housing Element?

To help complete the state mandated Housing Element update the city has selected a consultant to assist us; the contract has been awarded to De Novo Planning Group. De Novo will work with the Ad-Hoc Committee to complete the update. The following was extracted from De Novo’s proposal.

The Housing Element Update for Oakley must meet the specific needs of the City, including: 1) updated policy direction that addresses the success of the City’s current housing programs, 2) updating the element to reflect changes in Housing Element law since completion of the City’s current Housing Element, 3) address carryover requirements from the unmet needs from the previous Regional Housing Needs Allocation cycle, consistent with AB 1233, 4) taking into account limitations to growth, particularly related to inventory of available parcels, 5) providing residents and stakeholders opportunities for participation in the update process, and 6) timely preparation of the Housing Element.

Available vacant, infill, and reuse sites in the City will need to be identified and analyzed to determine the ability of the City to accommodate its housing needs from the 2014-2022 Regional Housing Needs Allocation as well as any unmet needs from the previous cycle. A comprehensive review of the City’s land use controls, including General Plan policy direction, zoning requirements, and other development standards, is necessary in order to determine both the potential number of units that can be constructed on available sites during the 2014 to 2022 cycle as well as to identify potential governmental constraints.

Lastly, the Housing Element must meet the requirements for HCD certification. As described in this proposal, the De Novo team has the necessary qualifications to prepare a Housing Element that meets the City’s needs and our scope of work describes our approach to this project. We have reviewed the City’s existing Housing Element and we are very familiar with all of HCD’s current requirements for Housing Element certification. We are confident that we can deliver the City with an adopted and certified Housing Element prior to December 2014.

Key legislation and HCD requirements that will affect Oakley are listed below:

HOMELESS, TRANSITIONAL HOUSING, AND EXTREMELY LOW INCOME HOUSEHOLDS – Recent changes in state law require additional analysis, including quantification of needs and assessment of adequate sites for extremely low income households and the homeless. SB 2 revised GC Sections 65582, 65583, and 65589.5 to increase planning requirements for emergency shelters, requiring a zone to permit at least one year-round emergency shelter without a conditional use permit or any discretionary permit requirements. Further, SB 2 requires that transitional housing and supportive housing must be considered a residential use of property. De Novo will identify the need for extremely low income housing and housing appropriate for the homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless. We will analyze the City’s land supply and zoning requirements to determine how these needs are currently accommodated, and will develop a program to identify sites and permit emergency, transitional, supportive, and extremely low income housing consistent with requirements of state law.

ADEQUATE SITES INVENTORY AND ANALYSIS – The City must demonstrate its ability to accommodate its housing allocation and housing needs or identify a program to meet these needs. State law (AB 2348) requires specificity in identifying adequate sites, including a map showing location of the sites, description of known environmental constraints, and description of availability of infrastructure and utilities. AB 1867 and 1103 provide additional flexibility in accommodating housing needs with specific types of units converted to lower income housing. AB 2348 also established default densities to accommodate very low and low income housing needs. When projecting the number of units accommodated on the City’s sites, De Novo will consider existing requirements, development trends, and other issues that could restrict development.

ENERGY CONSERVATION – HCD has developed policy guidance for addressing energy conservation in the Housing Element. De Novo is familiar with HCD’s requirements, as well as planning approaches to addressing climate change and sustainability through a range of green building, energy efficiency, energy conservation, and land use/transportation planning approaches.

SECOND UNITSAB 1866 tightened the requirements for use of second units as part of an affordable housing strategy. De Novo will identify the number of second units constructed in Oakley and assess the potential for second units to accommodate some of the City’s share of affordable housing needs.

HOUSING FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIESSB 520 amended Housing Element law to require analysis of potential governmental constraints to the development, improvement and maintenance of housing for persons with disabilities, demonstrate local efforts to remove any such constraints and provide for reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities through programs that remove constraints. The analysis is required to cover Zoning and Land-Use Policies and Practices, Evaluation of the Permit and Processing Procedures, Review of Building Codes, Review for Reasonable Accommodation Procedure, and a Review for Programs to assist in meeting identified needs. De Novo will provide policies and strategies to address constraints to housing for persons with disabilities.

SB 812 requires that Housing Elements analyze the special housing needs of persons with developmental disabilities. This analysis will include an estimate of the number of persons with developmental disabilities in Oakley, an assessment of the housing need specific to developmentally disabled persons, and a discussion of potential resources.

DEVELOP HOUSING ELEMENT – The Housing Element Update will include analysis of the City’s population, housing, and employment characteristics, housing development during the previous Housing Element cycle, characteristics of the housing market, and housing needs of special populations.

De Novo will focus on areas where the City has been successful in providing affordable housing in order to demonstrate to HCD the types of programs that are appropriate and feasible for the City to implement. Existing constraints to housing development and affordability, including governmental and non-governmental constraints will be discussed. The Housing Element will include an implementation plan with goals, policies, and programs developed to meet the housing needs of the City as identified from the public outreach as well as our research. The Housing Element will be prepared consistent with the requirements of Government Code Section 65583 and will be prepared to address specific needs and issues relevant to Oakley.

During preparation of the element, we will also meet with City staff to identify issues raised during the public outreach process, present our approach to the Housing Element, identify significant issues, and discuss development of policies. A Housing Element Update Ad-Hoc Citizen Committee hearing will be held to receive direction regarding the goals, policies, and programs developed. We will review proposed policies and programs for internal consistency with the City’s General Plan.

De Novo will prepare the appropriate CEQA document, concurrently with the Housing Element Update, to address the potential impacts of the Housing Element. This proposal anticipates that the project will require the preparation of a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) to satisfy CEQA requirements, but that no technical studies will be necessary.

STREAMLINED HCD REVIEW OF THE HOUSING ELEMENT – In December 2012, the State Department of Housing and Community Development issued updated guidance which provides for the streamlined review of certain housing element updates. For eligible jurisdictions, HCD review will rely upon the element in compliance in the prior planning period and will be limited to changes that have occurred since the prior planning period as indicated in the Streamlined Update template prepared by HCD. HCD will not review areas that have not changed since their content continues to be sufficient to meet statutory requirements.

For example, a sites inventory and analysis includes a listing of sites and various analyses demonstrating suitability of those sites for development, among other requirements. The listing may only have minor changes and the various analyses such as how residential capacity is calculated can continue to be used in the updated housing element. HCD will not review the areas that have not changed and will focus its review on the minor updates, if any, to the inventory and analyses. However, any changes to the required analyses must be included for HCD review. HCD will also consider public comments as part of this review. The streamlined update review option from HCD applies to the following topics within the Housing Element update:

  • Sites Inventory and Analysis
  • Analysis of Governmental and Non-Governmental Constraints
  • Housing Needs Assessment, including special needs groups (excluding the quantification and analysis of homeless individuals and families)
  • Units At-Risk of Conversion to Market Rate
  • General Plan Consistency

The De Novo has reviewed the City’s existing Housing Element, and we are confident that the proposed update will qualify for a streamlined review by HCD. Our work approach includes the preparation of a Draft Housing Element for HCD review that is done using track-changes in order to meet the streamlined review requirements, and the preparation of all required forms and checklists to qualify the project for HCD’s streamline review process, including the Streamlined Update template, and the Implementation Review worksheet.

About Kevin

Councilmember - City of Oakley, Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit, Transplan, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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