At 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 18, the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) Board of Directors will consider adoption of a regional housing needs allocation (RHNA) distribution methodology for the region. The methodology will delineate exactly how many housing units, of the final 24,856 countywide number, local cities and the county must address in their respective planning efforts for future housing production over an eight-year period between the years of 2023 and 2031. In February, the SBCAG Board of Directors approved the final RHNA determination number of 24,856, which was 15 percent below the draft figure. The methodology before the SBCAG Board on March 18 proposes to allocate 60 percent of the final 24,856 countywide number to South Coast where 60 percent of the region’s jobs exist. The meeting will be held with remote virtual participation with multiple ways the public can participate, which are outlined on the agenda available at www.sbcag.org.
SBCAG, in consultation with the region’s cities and county planning and community development division staff as well as California’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), explored a variety of potential distribution methodologies between February and December 2020 to meet state objectives. The proposed methodology, which was discussed by the SBCAG Board on December 17, 2020 and reviewed by HCD in February 2021, seeks to address the region’s jobs-housing imbalance as well as advance the five statutory RHNA objectives, such as promoting infill development, affirmatively furthering fair housing, and seeking parity across the region as it relates to housing offered to various income-level housing needs.
Specifically, the proposed methodology distributes housing units through a two-step process that is representative of Santa Barbara County’s distinct subregions – North County and South Coast to allow for an intentional focus on the county’s respective, subregional jobs-housing imbalance. The first step factors existing and forecasted jobs to address the current jobs-housing imbalance while also acknowledging future conditions will change over time. The second step allocates housing units to each respective local jurisdiction giving equal weight to social equity considerations of communities experiencing overcrowding and cost burden. Cost burden is defined by households expending more than 30 percent of income on housing and overcrowding is defined by households with more than one person per room, including a living room. The methodology allocates housing units to local jurisdictions based on their relative proportion of cost burdened and overcrowded households. The housing unit number assigned to each jurisdiction is then respectively balanced per income level type i.e., very low to above moderate in comparison to the region to ensure there is an equity of income levels represented among all the local jurisdictions in Santa Barbara County. The table below provides draft allocations based on the final housing need determination and proposed methodology.
The final RHNA methodology was presented to SBCAG Technical Planning Advisory Committee earlier this month. The technical committee is comprised of community development and planning staff from Santa Barbara County’s eight cities and the county as well as a representative from Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District. The committee voted unanimously, with the cities of Carpinteria and Solvang absent, to recommend the SBCAG Board of Directors adopt the final methodology.
Should the SBCAG Board adopt the methodology, local jurisdictions will have 45-day appeal period to appeal their own allocation, or another jurisdiction’s allocation consistent with Government Code Section 65584.05(b). The close of the appeals period is expected to be May 3, 2021.
California Department of Housing and Community Development Review of the Draft Regional Housing Need Allocation Methodology Letter (February 12, 2021).
WHAT IS RHNA?
RHNA is the State’s fair share housing law. It requires local governments to plan for a minimum number of housing units across four income groups. The State’s Housing and Community Development department is responsible for determining each region’s need. Regional agencies, such as SBCAG, are responsible for developing a methodology to allocate the housing units to local governments. Finally, each local government, by updating its Housing Element, accommodates its share of housing need. This is the 6th cycle which covers the 2023-2031 period. More information can be found on HCD’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation and Housing Elements’ webpage.