New RHNA Numbers Released – City Requirement Nearly Doubles


SACOG (Sacramento Area Council of Governments) has released a draft menu of Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) methodology options and, as expected, the City of Davis’ requirements are going up from the previous period.

According to Assistant City Manager Ashley Feeney, the city is in a public comment period that expires on November 8.  The city has secured Greg Chew from SACOG to present to council, right now scheduled for October 22.  At that time, the Planning Commission will be there for a joint meeting.

The recommended total RHNA for the city is 2075 units, with 930 of those units being in the lower-income RHNA category.

The RHNA is a state-required process that “that seeks to ensure cities and counties are planning for enough housing to accommodate all economic segments of the community.”

The process is split into three steps:

  1. Regional Determination: The State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) provides each region a Regional Determination of housing need, which includes a total number of units split into four income categories.
  2. RHNA Methodology: Councils of Governments are responsible for developing a RHNA Methodology for allocating the Regional Determination to each jurisdiction in the region. This methodology must further a series of State objectives.
  3. Housing Element Updates: Jurisdictions must then adopt a housing element that demonstrates, among other things, how the jurisdiction can accommodate its assigned RHNA number through its zoning. The state reviews each jurisdiction’s housing element for compliance.

“The RHNA methodology will assign housing units to each jurisdiction in the SACOG region, broken down into four income categories: very low-, low-, moderate- and above moderate-income,” the release stated.

Importantly, the period begins in October 2021.  By August 2021, “the City of Davis must adopt a housing element that demonstrates, among other things, how we can accommodate the assigned RHNA numbers through zoning amongst various income categories.”

RHNA, as indicated above, breaks the housing units into four income categories: very low-, low-, moderate- and above moderate-income.

They note: “A key assumption of the RHNA requirements is that the higher the allowed density in the zoning, the more likely it is to be able to accommodate affordable housing.”

From January 2013 to October 2021, the Davis RHNA consisted of 1066 units – so the new requirement nearly doubles that.

The total regional determination from 2021 to 2029 is 153,512 units.

The requirements from RHNA mark a fairly large increase over the previous eight-year period from 2013 to 2021.  The overall regional units allocated from HCD were 104,970 and now are at 153,512, about a 50 percent increase.

The biggest hit will come to West Sacramento, however.  West Sacramento will be required to build over 9000 new housing units, up from 5600 over the previous period.

Woodland will also grow faster than Davis, with a required 3087 units.  Winters will add 552 units while Yolo County’s unincorporated areas will only be required to build 57 units.

The new RHNA numbers reflect the housing crisis and the need for additional housing production in the region.

We saw much of this coming.  Dov Kadin, of SACOG, back in August tweeted that existing need was a huge part of the variable.

“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,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, over the spring and early summer, a report from Next 10 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 (are) on the rise.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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30 thoughts on “New RHNA Numbers Released – City Requirement Nearly Doubles”

    1. Bill Marshall

      Including the wording of the headline… likely (purposefully?) to generate a whole lot of comments from various sectors…

      Funny thing… a big percentage of a small number (over an 8-year period) is still a small number… unless the only number one wants to see is zero, or has a minus sign in front of it.

      Let the games begin!

  1. Ron Glick

    We fell short in the last decade and the one before that. Can we meet our needs in the next one? Doubtful, unless we get rid of Measure R. Are we going to do 2000 units, half affordable, in the existing foot print of Davis? Only if you want massive rebellion from existing home owners. Are we going to continue this treadmill of under performance, piecemeal election planning madness and constant litigation parcel by parcel? Or are we going to recognize the reality that the world has grown in population and we must plan for the future or have it thrust upon us?

    1. Alan Miller

      Only if you want massive rebellion from existing home owners.

      And ironically it’s existing homeowners that caused this situation by voting for Measure JR.  But of course, the homogeneously rich neighborhoods in town with gigantic yards won’t be touched when the turkey’s come home to roost.

      1. Ron Glick

        I think in fairness the people who were for J and R were well intentioned. I think that for some, like myself, who wanted to buy a little more than a decade ago it became apparent that Measure J was an impediment to a decent and humane housing policy. For others it took another decade for the full impacts of Measure R to be felt either through exorbitant rent increases and lack of available house or unwanted infill coming to a neighborhood nearby where they lived.

    2. Rik Keller

      Ron G.: before you go on trashing Measure R with false arguments, go ahead and look up how well the jurisdictions allowing unfettered growth met their previous low-income housing allocation compared to Davis (hint: they didn’t do well at all).

  2. Don Shor

    “West Sacramento will be required to build over 9000 new housing units, … Winters will add 552 units

    … Yolo County’s unincorporated areas will only be required to build 57 units.”

    I don’t think this is an accurate description of the process. 

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I’ve been told that it’s not a hard requirement to build the units, just zone for it under RHNA, but I’ve also been told that the enforcement of RHNA might be stronger this time around.

        1. Alan Miller

          Thx, DS.

          With all the differences in circumstances, it will be interesting to see how these grant-witholding punishments are doled out and not seen as arbitrary or ‘unfair’.


  3. Alan Miller

    “I’ve been told  . . . but I’ve also been told . . . ”

    Noah was “been told” to build an ark.

    Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant was “been told” that a big-legged woman ain’t got no soul.


  4. Craig Ross

    The other thing none of you guys figured out is the real teeth here is the 921 low income units – at a 15 percent allocation, that would mean Davis would have to build over 6000 market rate units or the state to change the way they fund affordable.

    1. Alan Miller

      The other thing none of you guys figured out . . .

      1)  You may wish to refrain from using gendered language in this forum 😐 |-:

      2)  But you did figure it out, and you let us know you figured it out, and we noticed you let us know you figured it out.

  5. Matt Williams

    There is something very strange in the reported numbers.  Specifically, UC Davis is part of “Unincorporated Yolo County” and yet the allocation for that fifth component of Yolo County is only 57 units?  Someone left the fish out on the sunporch and the aroma is powerful and the cats are yowling.

      1. Matt Williams

        I agree with Bill.  I see no credibility in Craig’s comment.  However, if Craig is correct then Davis gets credit for all the on-campus units being built during the period, which puts the 2,075 number in a totally different context.

        With that said, what’s the basis for your statement Craig?  Do you have a citation, or did you simply pluck it out of thin air?

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          Craig is not right.

          The footnote for the RHNA methodology draft says: “These assumptions do not reflect any of the group quarters growth on the UC Davis Campus in Unincorporated Yolo County because group quarters are not included in the RHNA process and Yolo County does not have land use authority on UC property.”

  6. Ron Glick

    When West Village was being built there was discussion about annexation into the city. Underlying  the debate was the question  if annexation were to occur would construction on campus count as part of satisfying the city’s and SACOG requirement for 1% annual growth with city policy demanding 1% or less growth and SACOG policy demanding 1% or more growth.

    Sadly the perennial arguments over growth impeded an honest debate over annexation.

  7. Rik Keller

    To place this draft RHNA allocation figure in context for Davis: the 2,075 unit allocation over the 7.5-year planning period is equivalent to a compound annual growth rate of 0.99% per year over the current estimated number of housing units in Davis of 26,932 (2019 CA DOF Table E-5 estimate).

    In other words, Measure R–with a soft 1% growth cap that includes exemptions for affordable units and others–does not represent an outright barrier or constraint to meeting this.


  8. Rik Keller

    Here’s a key aspect of the RHNA allocation that commenters have missed: Yolo County jurisdictions have a higher share of existing lower-income households than the “regional parity target” of 42.5%:

    – Davis: 46%

    – West Sacramento: 50%

    – Winters: 43%

    – Woodland: 47%

    So with “regional parity” goals of the RHNA (“Jurisdictions with a higher than average proportion of lower income households receive a downward adjustment of lower income RHNA units”), they have been assigned less of a relative responsibility in the RHNA  to plan for these households than other jurisdictions like Roseville (32% existing share of lower-income units), Folsom (22%), and Elk Grove (30%).

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