State law requires jurisdictions to adopt and periodically update a General Plan. The Housing Element is one of the required elements of the County of Orange General Plan and is statutorily required to be updated every 8 years.
The County of Orange is currently updating the Housing Element for the 6th cycle , which covers the planning period from 2021-2029. The Housing Element serves as a policy guide to address the comprehensive housing needs of the unincorporated areas within Orange County. The primary focus of the Housing Element is to ensure decent, safe, and sanitary housing for current and future residents of the unincorporated areas, including special needs resident groups such as seniors, students, and others.
To comply with recent revisions to State Housing Element law, the County of Orange Board of Supervisors must adopt the 6th Cycle Housing Element Update by October 15, 2021. As part of the Housing Element Update process, California State Department of Housing and Community Development (State HCD) will review and certify the Housing Element if it is found to comply with State law.
What is the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA)?
In the Housing Element, the County must identify land that is zoned to permit residential uses in order to meet the County’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation. Additionally, the County must establish goals, policies, objectives, and implementation programs to meet the existing and projected housing needs of unincorporated County.
State HCD determined the housing need for the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) region (which includes Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties) to be 1,341,827 units for this upcoming 6th cycle. SCAG is then responsible for determining how to allocate this future growth across all cities and counties within the region. The County of Orange is responsible for identifying areas of opportunity to accommodate the existing and projected housing need that is specifically allocated by SCAG.
In September 2020, SCAG released the draft RHNA allocation for each jurisdiction. The County of Orange’s draft portion of the SCAG’s RHNA for the 2021-2029 Housing Element is 10,381 total units for unincorporated Orange County. At this time, SCAG is in the process of reviewing RHNA appeals and plans to adopt the final allocation in February 2021.
This draft allocation of units is further broken down into the following income categories:
Very Low (50% AMI and below)
Low (50% - 80% AMI)
Moderate Income (80% to 120% AMI)
Above Moderate (120% AMI and above)
It is important to note that the County is required to identify areas with adequate zoning to accommodate this future growth, but is not required to develop these housing units.
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