Nearly all the cities and counties in California — 97.6 percent — are failing to approve the housing needed to keep pace with population growth and will be subject to a new law that aims to fast-track development, according to a report released by the state Thursday.
The state’s housing department released lists showing that more than 500 cities and counties are not on track to meet guidelines for the development of market-rate housing, affordable housing or both. Those jurisdictions will now lose the ability to reject certain types of development projects under legislation that was signed into law last fall.
Only 13 cities and counties, including Foster City, Hillsborough, San Anselmo and Beverly Hills, made the grade.
“When 97 percent of cities are failing to meet their housing goals,” the bill’s author, Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said in a statement Thursday, “it’s clear we need to change how we approach housing in California.”
Senate Bill 35, which Wiener carried last year, kicks in when cities or counties lag behind on annual progress reports. It applies only to projects that comply with a city’s zoning rules, pay the prevailing wage, and ensure that at least 10 percent of the new units are affordable, or priced below market rate. (The prevailing-wage requirement only applies to projects with more than 10 units.)
For cities such as Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, Walnut Creek and San Jose — which met their market-rate housing goals but didn’t issue enough permits for affordable housing to stay on track — the law applies only to proposed developments in which at least half of the units are affordable, or below market rate.
Others, including Menlo Park, Richmond, Santa Rosa, Carmel and Alameda and San Mateo counties, came up short on both market-rate and affordable development, which means the new law would apply to both kinds of projects.
SB 35 aims to make the permitting process faster and less cumbersome in those areas, with the hope of boosting the housing supply and stabilizing soaring housing costs over time.
The progress report was published by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, which is managing the new law’s implementation. The department found that 70.1 percent of all cities and counties fell short of the state’s guidelines for both market rate and affordable housing. Another 27.5 percent approved enough market-rate housing, but not enough affordable housing.
California has set guidelines for development, measured by permits issued to builders, since 1969 in an effort to discourage cities from impeding growth. Those guidelines are set during 8-year cycles through the bureaucratically titled Regional Housing Needs Allocation, which housing policy wonks call RHNA (pronounced REE-na).
Critics say the state lacks power to enforce the guidelines, however, and many cities lobby to have their goals reduced, or ignore them altogether. Wiener has a pending proposal, Senate Bill 828, to change how those numbers are set.
The very short list of cities and counties that are on track to meeting the state’s affordable housing development goals was not a shock to Matt Schwartz, president CEO of the California Housing Partnership, a non-profit housing organization based in San Francisco. He believes the state needs to offer more rewards to local governments that are approving affordable housing projects — and perhaps withhold some transportation funding for those that don’t.
“What’s the penalty if I don’t meet my RHNA affordable housing goal? What’s the incentive if I meet or exceed those goals?” he asked. “Not much.”
These Bay Area cities and counties are failing to meet all of their housing goals — both market rate and affordable:
Alameda County, Capitola, Carmel, Clayton, Concord, East Palo Alto, Emeryville, Hayward, Los Altos Hills, Martinez, Menlo Park, Mill Valley, Millbrae, Monterey, Moraga, Newark, Novato, Pacifica, Pinole, Pleasant Hill, Redwood City, Richmond, San Bruno, San Leandro, San Mateo County, Santa Cruz County, Sausalito, South San Francisco, Tracy, Union City, Vallejo
The Bay Area cities and counties below are not issuing enough permits for affordable (below market rate) housing, but are on track to meet their goals for market-rate housing:
Alameda, Albany, Antioch, Atherton, Berkeley, Brisbane, Burlingame, Campbell, Contra Costa County, Cupertino, Daly City, Danville, Dublin, El Cerrito, Fremont, Gilroy, Hercules, Lafayette, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Marin County, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Oakland, Orinda, Palo Alto, Piedmont, Pittsburg, Pleasanton, San Francisco, San Jose, San Mateo, San Pablo, San Rafael, San Ramon, Santa Clara, Santa Clara County, Sunnyvale, Walnut Creek, Woodside
Statewide, just 13 cities or counties are on track to meet both goals. They include Foster City, Hillsborough, San Anselmo, and Napa and Sonoma counties.