Land available for housing development is limited and land values vary from community to community. The Bay Area has comparatively high land values within the state and land values in Danville are high. The ability to develop high densities on land reduces the per-housing-unit cost and allows homes to be sold at levels that are more affordable than single family homes. Influences on housing prices include the size of the units, amenities offered, and proximity to other desirable land uses.
Sometimes higher density housing means luxury condominiums and sometimes it means homes that more moderate income families can buy. Even if land is listed in the housing element as potentially affordable, the land owner or developer could very well construct market rate housing.
There can be serious consequences to communities and their residents if the California Department of Housing and Community Development determines that a city or county has failed to comply with the State’s Housing Element Law. Some of those repercussions can include:
1. Lawsuits from developers and from housing advocates. A number of Bay Area cities that have been successfully sued include Menlo Park, Corte Madera,
Pleasanton, Alameda, Benicia, Fremont, Berkeley, Napa County and Santa Rosa. Potential consequences of being sued include:
a. Mandatory compliance - the court orders the community to bring the Housing Element into compliance, which limits community input.
b. Suspension of local control on building – the court may suspend a community’s authority to issue building permits or grant zoning changes.
c. Court approval of housing developments – the court may step in and approve housing projects, including large projects that may or may not be wanted by the local community.
d. Fees - If a jurisdiction loses or settles the case, it often must pay substantial attorney fees to the plaintiff’s attorneys in addition to the fees paid to its own attorneys. payment of attorney fees that usually exceed $100,000.
2. If the Town fails to identify available adequate sites to accommodate its fair share assignment for the current planning period (557 units), it would be required to carry this assignment over to the next planning period. In other words, failure to comply means that each planning period’s assignment would then become cumulatively additive.
3. Limited access to state funding for such community needs as economic development and transportation.
It’s important to keep in mind that since the law took effect in 1969, no jurisdiction in California has successfully challenged the authority of the state to mandate compliance with housing element law (see California Housing Element Litigation History)
Danville’s “fair share” of the Bay Area region’s housing need for the 2014-2022 planning cycle is 557 units. Within the context of Contra Costa County, Danville’s housing assignment represents 3% of the countywide assignment, while its population is 4% of the countywide total. Within the context of the five Tri-Valley cities, Danville’s housing assignment represents 6% of the subregion’s assignment, while its population is 13% of the subregional total.
Download Affordability Levels Table
It is important to note that state law does not require local governments to build new housing. A municipality must only provide adequate housing sites zoned at appropriate densities to accommodate the affordability levels shown above. The private market determines if any housing is actually built.
For this planning cycle, the Town has sufficient acreage of appropriately zoned sites to accommodate all units among the state-mandated affordability levels. Therefore, no new sites are required to be identified as a part of this Housing Element update.
The State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) determines the number of housing units necessary to meet housing demand within each region of the state every seven to eight years. The Council of Governments (COG) for each California region then assigns each city and county their “fair share” of these housing units through the Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) process.
In 2014, HCD determined that the Bay Area must plan for 187,990 new housing units from 2014‐2022. This determination is based on population projections produced by
the California Department of Finance (DOF), which also took into account the uncertainty regarding the economy and regional housing markets. For this cycle, HCD made an adjustment to account for abnormally high vacancies and unique market conditions due to prolonged recessionary conditions, high unemployment, and unprecedented foreclosures. As a result, the 2014-2022 planning cycle is lower than the 2007‐2014 cycle, which was at 214,500 units.
The underlying premise of housing element law is that, for the private market to adequately address housing needs and demand, local governments must adopt land use plans and regulatory systems which provide opportunities for - and do not unduly constrain - housing development. The objectives of State housing element law are to:
(1) Increase the housing supply and the mix of housing types, tenure, and affordability in all cities and counties within the region in an equitable manner, resulting in each jurisdiction receiving an allocation of units for low and very low income households.
(2) Promote infill development and socioeconomic equity, the protection of environmental and agricultural resources, and the encouragement of efficient development patterns.
(3) Promote an improved intra-regional relationship between jobs and housing.