There was a good piece earlier this week that looked at SACOG (Sacramento Area Council of Governments) and likely requirements for Cycle 6 of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) which covers the years 2021-2029.
Dov Kadin of SACOG tweeted, a few days ago: “SACOGs regional determination for cycle 6 of RHNA (2021-2029) is 153,512 units. That’s a 46% increase over (the) last cycle. The understanding was that the numbers were going (to) dramatically increase across the state. It will likely be a higher increase in coastal markets.”
Of the 153,512 in the region, 40 percent will be required to be from very low to moderate income.
These numbers are based on two factors. First, the anticipated or projected new growth. Second, the existing need.
Mr. Kadin, however, clarified: “When I say that the numbers are increasing across the state, it’s not because we are expecting more growth. It’s entirely because the existing need is higher than its ever been. In SACOG, they make up over a quarter of our total number.”
This figures to be important for Davis. Mr. Kadin writes: “Vacancy rate is the biggest one for (SACOG).”
He notes that, “HCD multiplies the difference between our vacancy rate and a healthy rate of 5 by our projected households in 2029. Its adding ~23k units. Worth noting we subtracted 12k units last cycle due to abnormally high rates so the swing is 35k.”
In Davis, as we have frequently noted, the vacancy rate is less than 0.5 percent, while a healthy vacancy rate is 5 percent. What is of course unknown is the impact of the all of the proposed student housing – roughly 4500 beds in town and another over 9000 on campus.
Here is another factor we should be paying attention to – overcrowding.
Mr. Kadin writes: “Overcrowding is a new one due to SB 828.”
Under SB 828, there is required “data relating to the percentage of renter’s households that are overcrowded and vacancy rates for healthy housing market functioning and regional mobility.”
The bill goes on to require “the council of governments to provide data on the overcrowding rate for a comparable housing market, and would define the vacancy rate for a healthy rental housing market for those purposes to be no less than 5%.”
For the purposes of the bill, “The term ‘overcrowded’ means more than one resident per room in each room in a dwelling.”
We have noted, based on data from the Housing Task Force at UC Davis, that there has been a large increase in the density of units in Davis to compensate for the shortfall of housing units.
As we previously reported, Don Gibson, who chaired the ASUCD Graduate Student Association (GSA) Housing Task Force, wrote last year, “The density of the units in Davis for multi-families has gone from 2.4 to almost 3.”
That means that in 2000, the average unit had 2.37 (rounded up to 2.4) people per unit and it now has almost 3 people per unit. This is not due to changes in the structure of units, and there have been almost no additional units built in that time – that is due to more students moving into existing housing units.
That means that while the density in owner-occupied homes is declining, density in rental homes is increasing as more students are packing into the units.
He said, “Not as many students as I suspected were actually leaving town – they were just having to double-up in rooms.”
He added, “That’s led to the mini-dorm problem that has garnered a lot of discussion here in town.”
It appears that SB 828 will now take these factors into account when calculating the housing needs.
For the purposes of SACOG, “Your adjustment is based on the difference in overcrowding rates between your region and comparable regions. We worked extensively with HCD to identify our comparable regions based on economic metrics.”
At the regional level, RHNA then applies “an adjustment for cost burden to both the lower income and higher income units, recognizing cost burden is experienced very differently across income groups. This one is also based on the difference between your region and comparable regions.”
Mr. Kadin explains, “As political and opaque as this process seems, HCD is pretty formulaic about how they apply these adjustments and are not just going to leave one out to avoid conflict. These are all written into state law. Next step: adopting a methodology for distributing these numbers!”
From everyone we have spoken to, the expectation is the RHNA requirements for the next period are going to go way up. These projected numbers are just at the regional level. But given how they are calculated at the regional level and the factors of low vacancy and overcrowding in Davis, the expectation will be that requirements will go up.
How Davis expects to meet those requirements will become the political football of the next few years. Once again, there has been a lot of discussion about things like district elections and sales tax renewal, and none so far about Measure R renewal.
—David M. Greenwald reporting