Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the Housing Element?
The Housing Element is one of seven mandatory elements that must be included in a county’s General Plan. The Housing Element outlines goals, polices, implementation programs, and quantified objectives that will help the County plan for the housing needs for all segments of the County’s population. State law mandates that local governments adequately plan to meet the existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community. Unlike other mandatory general plan elements, the Housing Element is required to be updated every eight years and must be reviewed and certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
Visit HCD’s website for more information about Housing Element requirements: www.hcd.ca.gov/community-development/housing-element/index.shtml
Q. What is the Safety Element?
The Safety Element addresses potential and existing hazards in the County, which are outlined in the following categories: Emergency Preparedness, Geological Hazards/Seismic Activity, Flood Hazards, Airport and Military Airspace Hazards, Hazardous Material and Mining Hazards, Public Safety Services and Facilities, Fire Hazards and Protection, and Severe Weather Hazards. California state law requires the Safety Element of a General Plan to be updated concurrently with the Housing Element.
Q. What information is included in the Housing Element?
The Housing Element includes the following major components:
- Housing Needs Assessment: Provides demographic and housing need information for the County.
- Constraints Analysis: Analyzes existing and potential constraints to the development of housing and how those will be addressed.
- Evaluation of Past Performance: Assesses the County’s progress in implementing the policies and programs set forth in the prior Housing Element.
- Housing Sites Inventory and Analysis: Identifies sites available for development or redevelopment and that are appropriately zoned to support housing development in order to accommodate the County’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).
- Housing Resources: Identifies financial and other resources available to support housing development, especially affordable housing.
- Policies and Programs: Establishes new policies and programs designed to address the housing needs identified in the County.
Q. How is a Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) determined?
The RHNA is part of a statewide statutory mandate for every city and county in California to address a portion of the projected statewide housing needs. Every region in the state is given a Regional Housing Needs Determination (RHND) from HCD, which is the number of housing units the region must plan for. The total allocation is broken down into four income categories: above moderate-, moderate-, low-, and very low-income.
State law mandates that the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) develop and approve a Regional Housing Needs Plan (RHNP) that contains a RHNA methodology for allocating these units by income category to each city and county in the region. The RHNA methodology requires that the following five objectives be considered;
- Increase housing supply and housing mix;
- promote infill, equity, and the environment;
- ensure jobs housing balance and fit;
- promote regional income parity; and
- affirmatively further fair housing.
The SACOG board adopted the sixth cycle 2021-2029 RHNA Methodology in November 2019.
Visit the SACOG website for more information on the SACOG RHNA process: www.sacog.org/regional-housing-needs-allocation-rhna
Q. Is the County required to build all the housing units allocated in the RHNA?
No. Counties do not build housing – the private sector does. The County’s role in meeting the RHNA is to ensure that enough land is zoned to accommodate the units identified in the RHNA. For the County’s lower-income portion of the RHNA, we must have vacant or underutilized land that is zoned residential or residential mixed-use at a density that allows 30 dwelling units per acre or higher (30 du/ac).
Q.What happens if a jurisdiction does not adopt a Housing Element or the Element does not comply with State law?
- Limited access to State Funding. Several state department/agencies that award funds limit their approvals based on the status of a jurisdiction’s Housing Element. This includes some transportation funds.
- Lawsuits. Counties could also be vulnerable to lawsuits for not working proactively to meet its housing needed. Without a certified housing element, developers and advocates have the right to sue jurisdictions if their Housing Element is not compliant with State Law.
- Carryover of unfilled RHNA. We would be required to carry over to the next housing element planning period any unmet RHNA if we fail to identify or make available adequate sites to accommodate its RHNA assignment. Therefore, in addition to identifying sites for the new period’s RHNA, we would also be required within the first year of the new planning period to zone adequate sites to accommodate the RHNA from the prior planning period that was not provided.
Q. When does the Housing Element have to be submitted to the State?
The Housing Element must be adopted by the Board of Supervisors by May 31, 2021. As noted in the project schedule, we expect to adopt the Housing Element prior to May 2021.
Q. Why should I get involved and how will my feedback be used?
All Placer County residents are encouraged to get involved in the Housing Element update. Your feedback will help inform the policies and programs that are included in the Housing Element and our strategy for meeting the RHNA. You can participate in any of the following ways:
Attend a community workshop (meeting dates will be posted on the project website)
- Fill out a survey (coming soon!)
- Comment on the Public Review Draft Housing Element once it is available
- Attend the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisor meetings (dates will be posted on the project website)
- Send an email with comments to County staff at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send written comments to the project team at:
Placer County Housing Services
3091 County Center Dr
Auburn, CA 95603