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Housing Element Update

We are excited to announce that in 2022, the City of Lompoc kicked off the update to the City’s Housing Element to plan for housing through 2031. The update is scheduled for completion in early 2023, and throughout the process, we invite the public to be part of the planning process and provide input on how Lompoc should provide housing over the planning period (2023-2031).

What is a Housing Element?

Since 1969, every city and county in California has been required to have a Housing Element as part of their General Plan. Unlike other mandatory General Plan elements, the Housing Element must be updated every eight years and is subject to review and approval by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Major components of the Housing Element include a housing needs assessment, the identification of sites for housing at all income levels, a review of constraints to housing, and updated policies and programs to carry out the goals of the updated element.

The City’s current 2015-2023 Housing Element was adopted in 2015 and was part of the 5th Cycle of housing element updates in the State. This update for the 2023-2031 planning period is part of the 6th Cycle of housing element updates. Between the 5th and 6th Cycles, the State approved over a dozen of new housing laws, many of which aim to lower barriers to building affordable housing. The City will address these new laws and other community needs as a part of this update.

Another major addition to the 6th Cycle Housing Element Update is the inclusion of an analysis called the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) analysis. The AFFH analysis will examine housing practices in the city to identify any areas that may perpetuate housing inequities in the community. The Housing Element will then include policies and programs to help work towards more equitable housing practices.

What does a Housing Element do?

Provide an assessment of current and future housing needs
Identify opportunities and constraints on housing production
Establish goals, policies, and programs to meet those needs
Update City practices and regulations to reflect new State laws

A Housing Element identifies strategies and programs that focus on:

  • Conserving and improving existing affordable housing
  • Maximizing housing opportunities throughout the community
  • Assisting in the provision of affordable housing
  • Removing governmental and other constraints to housing investment
  • Promoting fair and equal housing opportunities

What is the Regional Housing Needs Allocation?

In the process of updating the Housing Element, each jurisdiction is required to accommodate its fair share of the regional housing need. The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) is the process used to determine housing allocations for each jurisdiction. As part of the RHNA, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) determines the total number of housing units needed across California over the next decade. This Statewide need is apportioned by HCD to each region in the state. The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) is then tasked with developing a methodology to determine the number of housing units for which each jurisdiction is required to designate suitable sites. Under State law, the RHNA is assigned to the following four income categories:

  • Very low household income
  • Low household income
  • Moderate household income
  • Above moderate household income

The household income for each of these categories is based on a percentage of the Area Median Income (AMI). The breakdown of these categories is shown below:

 

 

Allocation by Income Level

Jurisdiction

RHNA Allocation

Very Low

Low

Moderate

Above Moderate

Carpinteria

901

286

132

135

348

Santa Barbara

8,001

2,147

1,381

1,441

3,032

Goleta

1,837

682

324

370

461

Uninc. (South Coast)

4,142

809

957

1,051

1,325

Lompoc

2,248

166

262

311

1,509

Uninc. (Lompoc Valley)

521

209

72

54

186

Santa Maria

5,418

1,032

536

731

3,119

Guadalupe

431

3

24

77

327

Uninc. (Santa Maria Valley)

721

262

118

118

223

Solvang

191

55

39

22

75

Buellton

165

55

37

30

43

Uninc. (Santa Ynez Valley)

280

93

53

57

77

 

County Total

24,856

5,799

3,935

4,397

10,725

Total Unincorporated

5,664

1,373

1,200

1,280

1,811

 

The inventory and analysis of adequate sites is a labor-intensive component of the Housing Element Update process. Lompoc will need to evaluate General Plan land uses and the zoning ordinance to determine whether there is enough land available to accommodate the assigned RHNA allocation for each income category. If unable to accommodate the RHNA, Lompoc will need to plan to rezone enough land to meet the RHNA obligation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Included in the Housing Element?

Housing Elements are typically organized into the following parts:

  • Housing Needs Analysis
  • Analysis of Constraints to Housing Production
  • Inventory of Sites Suitable for Residential Development
  • Policy and Implementation Program

As a part of updating the Housing Element, the City will reorganize or add new sections to emphasize pertinent planning issues and respond to new State laws that have been passed since the current Housing Element was adopted. Following the adoption of the Housing Element, the Housing Element Team will:

  • implement of one or more of the Housing Element programs,
  • create objective residential design standards to reduce costs and permit processing times for developers, and,
  • draft amendments to the zoning ordinance for consistency with the new Housing Element.
Why Update the Housing Element?

Since 1969, California has required that all cities and counties plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. California’s local governments meet this requirement by adopting housing elements as part of their “general plan” (also required by the State). General plans serve as the local government’s "blueprint" for how the city and/or county will grow and develop and include eight required elements: land use, transportation, conservation, noise, open space, safety, environmental justice, and housing (a ninth element, air quality, is required for cities and counties in the San Joaquin Valley). The law mandating that housing be included as an element of each jurisdiction’s general plan is known as “housing element law.”

California’s housing element law acknowledges that, for the private market to adequately address the housing needs and demand of Californians, local governments must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for (and do not unduly constrain) housing development. As a result, housing policy in California rests largely upon the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements.

Who Is Preparing The Housing Element Update?

The Housing Element Update is being prepared by City staff with direction from the City Council and input from the Planning Commission and the community. The development of the Housing Element is being led by City staff from the Planning Department. To assist in the preparation of the Update, the City has also hired a team of planning specialists that include community planners and technical specialists:

  • Mintier Harnish (lead consultant)
  • Rincon Consultants
  • DKS
Who Oversees the Housing Element Process?

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) plays the critical role of reviewing every local government’s housing element to determine whether it complies with State law and then submits written findings back to each local government. HCD must certify the housing element before the City can adopt it as part of the General Plan.

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