Impact of Not Meeting the Housing Needs of a CommunityDecember 28, 2006Housing Opportunity Committee Legislative CommitteeThe following is for study only and has NOT been approved by the Housing Opportunity, Legislative or Executive Committees or the Board of Directors.Issue: Should C.A.R. go forward with the “spot bill”, authorized by the board of directors at it’s October meeting, requiring local governments that reduce the number of homes proposed during the subdivision map review process to adopt written findings and declarations concerning the impact that reduction will have on adjacent communities?
Action: If C.A.R. is to go forward and sponsor this bill no actionis required at this meeting.
Options: 1. Sponsor legislation in 2007 requiring local governments that reduce the number of lots proposed during the subdivision map process to adopt findings and declarations demonstrating the impact that reduction has on adjacent communities. 2. OtherStatus/Summary: At the October 2006 directors meeting the following motion was approved: That C.A.R. “SPONSOR” a “spot bill” requiring local governments that reduce the number of proposed lots in a subdivision to adopt findings and declarations demonstrating the impact the reduction has on adjacent communities.” The question now: Is C.A.R. prepared to introduce this legislation? The proposed bill acknowledges actions of one community can be beneficial or detrimental to the housing needs of another community. Shouldn’t the law recognize that a local governments actions do affect the housing needs beyond that governments borders? Wouldn’t this promote cooperation and dialogue between neighboring jurisdictions concerning housing needs during the implementation stage of a general plan?DiscussionApproximately thirty years ago the Legislature acknowledged that planning and zonibgwas a statewide matter and could not be left exclusively to local government. Housing policy and guidelines became law for cities and counties.That body of law is generally referred to as the state Planning and Zoning Law which requires cities and counties to prepare and adopt a general plan to guide the future growth of a community. The general plan must contain seven elements: land use; circulation, housing, conservation, open-space, noise and safety. A housing element must identify and analyze the existing and projected housing needs, identify adequate sites with the appropriate zoning to meet the housing needs of all income segmentsof the community, and ensure the regulatory systems provide opportunities for, and do not unduly constrain, housing development. To the extent a local government does not have adequate sites within its existing inventory of residentially zoned land, thenthe community must adopt a program to rezone land at appropriate densities to accommodate the community’s housing need for all income groups.Cities and counties must revise their housing elements every five years, following a state staggered statutory schedule. Before each revision, the community is assigned its fair share of the housing for each income category through the regional housing needs assessment (RHNA) process. The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) reviews both the draft and adopted housing elements to determine whether or not the city or county is in substantial compliance with the law. Most everylaw pertaining to housing focuses on adoption of general plans, calculating the states’ population growth, determining where the population growth will occur, and where housing development is needed.As part of the housing development approval process, a city or county determines if the application is in compliance with, among other things, environmental law and the general plan. Should a development be opposed by the local government staff and/or neighbors, the usual response by the local government officials are to reduce the zoning density or deny the application? When this happens, the impact can be significant.State housing law is not as well developed after the general plan has been adopted. Little consideration is given concerning the actions of one government to adjacent cities and counties.Recognizing that city and county boundaries are arbitrary and the decisions of one community can bebeneficial or detrimental to other communities, it may be appropriate to focus on this area of law.Cities should plan what they mean and mean what they plan.Additionally, there is little if any, cooperation between local governments when it comes to implementing general plans.C.A.R. sponsored for next year, unless directed otherwise, will require local government to adopt written findings about the impact of its decision to reduce the number of housing units on its general plan on adjacent communities’ ability to meet the housing needs of the region. The purpose is to:1. Develop regional cognizance beyond the immediate borders of a city or county.2. Increase a local government’s accountability.3. Direct a local government to acknowledge it is to follow its own development standards and minimize the impact of neighborhood opposition to a housing development application that is in compliance with existing zoning and environmental laws.