California’s Department of Housing and Community Development is getting tough with local officials about addressing the state’s chronic shortage of housing.
For the last half-century, the state government has attempted — without much success — to steer housing development in California via periodic calculation of local “needs.”
About once every eight years, the state Department of Housing and Community Development, using formulas based primarily on population growth, has told regional planning bodies or individual counties how much housing for various personal income levels they should be building. Local officials then divvy up shares to cities and the unincorporated areas of counties.
However the process historically contained no provisions for enforcement. To comply, the local communities only had to zone enough land for the goals, which tended to be modest.
Moreover, while local governments could control land use, they had little or no power to build housing, or order it to be built. Thus, actual housing production usually bears little relationship to the “regional housing need assessment” or RHNA. Sometimes construction far exceeds official goals and sometimes — particularly in recent years — it falls way short.