The City of Alhambra is in the process of updating the Housing Element of its General Plan.
What is a Housing Element?
The Housing Element is a chapter in the City’s General Plan. It is a blueprint for how the City will plan for its share of regional housing need. The Housing Element outlines the City’s goals, policies and actions for how it will meet the community’s vision regarding future housing need. The City updated and adopted other elements of the General Plan in 2019, and now it needs to update the Housing Element.
The Housing Element discusses numerous factors relating to housing, such as current housing types, future housing need, zoning, and programs and policies governing housing development. Housing Elements need to be updated every eight years. The last Housing Element covered the period of October 2013 to October 2021 and this new Housing Element will cover the planning period from October 2021 through October 2029.
Housing Elements are the only General Plan chapters that require review and approval from the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). State law requires that every jurisdiction must update the Housing Element of its General Plan to ensure it has enough sites and zoned land to accommodate its Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) number.
What is a RHNA?
As required by State housing law, RHNA is a process that determines the projected and existing housing need for all jurisdictions in California over a period of time. Alhambra's RHNA is the number of new housing units that HCD and Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) have determined it must accommodate through planning changes, over the planning period. The RHNA separates out the number of housing units needed by different income levels.
As required by State law, the City must plan for a range of housing types suitable for many segments of the population. It is important to note that a RHNA is NOT a mandate to build housing, but a requirement that the City must plan for the capacity to accommodate these units and ensure that it does not have policies that limit development.
How are RHNAs determined?
HCD determines regional housing need. It has allocated 1.34 million units to the SCAG region, and SCAG allocated these units to all the jurisdictions in the region. In this 2021-2029 planning period, Alhambra received a final allocation of 6,825 units that it must plan and zone capacity for over these 8-years. (Alhambra's draft allocation was 6,808 which will be listed on project documents created prior to February 2021).
SCAG’s allocation methodology considers both projected and existing need.
See the “RHNA 101” Memorandum on the Project Documents page for more information on the RHNA (which references the draft 6,808 allocation).
What does the Housing Element Update entail?
This project has several steps, starting with a review of the prior housing element; analyzing new demographic, employment, and housing data; soliciting input from the Alhambra community (click here to get involved!); making recommendations on how to plan for the RHNA over the next eight years; and assessing the environmental impacts of these changes. The final Housing Element needs to be adopted by City Council, and approved by the State.
Who is involved in the Housing Element Update?
The City’s Community Development Department will be in charge of this project, and it has enlisted several consultants to help:
The Housing Element Update project is being led by ECONorthwest, the Pacific Northwest’s largest private economics consulting firm.
Environmental impacts will be assessed by Meridian Consultants.
Graphic design and website management is being provided by Racila Design.
In addition, the City’s Planning Commission will be involved, and the City Council will need to approve and adopt the final Housing Element. Click here to learn more about these entities.
Most importantly, the community will be involved in providing input into the Housing Element update. Over the next year the City will need to decide how and where to put capacity for these 6,825 units. Alhambra residents, landlords, employees, and businesses should get involved to share their input.