Consider this a trigger warning – if you don’t like speculation, you probably won’t like this column. The state as we know is feeling the pressure of housing shortages.
A reader on Sunday noted that the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will shortly be issuing its Regional Housing Needs Allocations, which will trigger the requirement for a new housing element for the city’s General Plan.
Posting from a Next 10 report from the spring, it is noted, “The state of California continues to experience a housing crisis. Supply has not met demand for years, and it has become increasingly difficult to develop an adequate stock of affordable housing units, forcing some residents to move further away from job centers or out of state entirely (in) order to find affordable housing.
“While 200,000 units of housing are needed annually to keep up with population growth, only 113,000 were permitted in 2017, and fewer than 750,000 units were permitted since 2007, accounting for only 40 percent of the projected need.”
Next 10 notes: “There is no question that California’s RHNA [Regional Housing Needs Assessment] process has failed to live up to its stated purpose, as most jurisdictions have continued to fail to meet their housing goals and those that do perform well often do so because there’s a relatively low bar of success.
“While the recently passed housing legislation package of 2017 may help improve RHNA data accountability and transparency, more enforcement mechanisms may be necessary in order to meet existing goals, as (there) may be a comprehensive assessment of the goal-setting process to ensure it is not guaranteeing a continued shortage by setting goals according to the status quo, in which soaring costs and homelessness on the rise.”
At the same time, what I am hearing is that by this fall, perhaps November, the county will come out with its own housing assessment. At this point this is unconfirmed speculation, but I am told that that assessment will show that the city of Davis will be in need of a substantial amount of new housing over the next decade or so.
The reader correctly notes with regards to RHNA, “The process identifies needs, but does not mandate construction of housing.”
But what we are hearing is that the state will attach real sticks to compliance with housing allocation so that if the city or other jurisdictions fall out of compliance, they would face the loss of funding from the state. Already the state has threatened to tie transportation money to meeting housing requirements, but then backed off.
As the reader points out: “If they finally put enforcement teeth in the SACOG RHNA process, Davis may find itself having to make some zoning decisions. SACOG can’t force annexation, but there is little question that annexing land for mid-price housing would be less contentious than trying to shoehorn in more tightly packed housing units into existing neighborhoods. It would also be the most effective way to create opportunities for affordable housing and very low-income housing.”
Locally this is going to make things interesting. One of the big issues that really has not been touched yet is the renewal process for Measure R. Right now the city has been kind of hanging back with respect to those discussions.
It is interesting that the city did not incorporate into the survey questions about the Measure R renewal. It seems at this point the city is planning to hold off on that until November – which would strangely decouple council candidates from the direct vote, although clearly they will be asked about their preferences.
The politics of the renewal is a bit up in the air. Had the projects in 2018 gone down, the heat would be a lot higher on Measure R. With two relatively easy, albeit contentious, passages, it might take the pressure off the measure. But large new state mandated growth requirements could drastically change that issue.
Or perhaps not. The recent polling places the issue of affordability of housing at the top of the list of community needs. Not only did 31 percent of those polled select it as “the most important issue facing the City of Davis today” in an open ended question, but 79 percent of residents polled were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the affordability of housing and only 18 percent said they were somewhat satisfied or very satisfied with it.
At this point, it is too soon to speculate. We do not know concretely what the growth requirements will be or what the consequences would be for not meeting them. But the people I have spoken to in the past week expect them to be “game-changing” in scope.
—David M. Greenwald reporting