What is the Housing Element?
California requires that all local governments (cities and counties) adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. California’s local governments meet this requirement by adopting Housing Elements as part of their General Plan.
General Plans serve as the local government’s "blueprint" for how the city and/or county will grow and develop over a 15-20 year period, and include a minimum of seven mandatory elements: land use, transportation, conservation, noise, open space, safety, and housing. California’s housing element law acknowledges that, in order for the private market to adequately address the housing needs and demand of Californians, local governments must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for and do not unduly constrain, housing development. As a result, housing policy in California rests largely on the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements.
General Plans are updated approximately every 20 years, while Housing Elements are on “cycles” that are either 5 or 8 years apart, with Chico on an 8-year cycle. The current Chico Housing Element was adopted in 2014.
The philosophy behind the Housing Element law is that in order for the private market to adequately address the housing needs and demand of Californians, local governments must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for (and do not unduly constrain) housing development.
The local Housing Element is a key policy document that forms a foundation of support for housing production. It sets goals for the allocation of funding, program coordination and zoning of land. Goals are formulated by soliciting community participation, reviewing progress on the previous Housing Element, analyzing housing needs, documenting resources and assessing constraints.
A key part of the Housing Element lays out strategies to address the needs of community residents that are not typically met by the private market, such as low-income households, seniors, people with disabilities and people experiencing homelessness.
Since 1969, Housing Elements have been required aspects of local general plans in California because providing housing for all Californians is considered by the state legislature to be of statewide importance. A Housing Element provides an analysis of a community’s housing needs for all income levels, along with strategies and action plans for responding to those housing needs.
The Housing Element is a critical part of the Chico’s overall General Plan. California State Law establishes that each city accommodate its fair share of affordable housing as an approach to distributing housing needs throughout the state. State Housing Element law also recognizes that in order for the private sector to address housing needs and demand, local governments must adopt land-use plans and implementing regulations that provide opportunities for, and do not unduly constrain, housing development by the private sector.
Guidelines and requirements regarding Housing Elements can be found in the California Government Code Sections 65580-65589. Read More >
Housing issues affect the entire community – residents, employers, and the public and private sectors. State Housing Element law requires that local jurisdictions consult with the public, and include a cross section of constituents in the analysis of needs and development of goals to pursue. This ensures broad participation in defining the housing problem and in crafting solutions that work for everyone in the community.
The Housing Element also includes an analysis of quantitative data to:
Ascertain demographic and socioeconomic conditions
Inventory local resources such as developable land, financial resources for housing development and energy conservation opportunities
Analyze both governmental and non-governmental constraints to development
Assess impediments to fair housing