Sacramento housing policy is setting off flashing red lights across cities right now. You need to be aware of how this could change your community.
As a matter of policy, decisions ought to be made at the level closest to those effected. In a recent article, I was quoted saying: “When a new development is contemplated in or around a neighborhood, residents naturally expect that they can speak to their local city council … A mayor is a whole lot easier to get on the phone than the governor. Cities should have an overriding say on what happens in their borders.”
Instead, Sacramento has declared that lack of housing supply is a statewide concern and is passing legislation overriding local land use decisions for cities throughout the state.
Plus, an administrative agency called “Housing &Community Development” (HCD) has the power to dictate that regions plan for a certain number of units. These regional governments then dictate to cities how many housing units they plan for the next 8 years.
Every city has to have a “General Plan” primarily for land use. One element of the General Plan is a “Housing Element.” So, every eight years, a city has to submit a new housing element to HCD for review and certification that the city complied with the dictated number of housing units.
In this coming cycle, HCD has dictated massive numbers of housing units. Newport Beach must plan for 4,845 new units; Costa Mesa (11,760), Huntington Beach (13,368), Irvine (23,610), etc.
If HCD refuses to certify an element (it has only approved 7 of 197 so far), then new legislation requires that the city change its entire zoning code by October … of this year. That’s typically a multi-year process.
And HCD just this past week rejected Los Angeles’ element. LA must now rezone to accommodate 250,000+ housing units by mid-October. Failure means lost access to housing grants and subjects a city to substantial state enforcement. For example, CA’s Attorney General can sue noncompliant cities, request to take over a city’s planning department, and simply start issuing permits.
Arrogance and tyranny are at our doorstep. Back your city council if we have to fight.