Yorba Linda first city in OC to complete state-mandated housing plan

Plans call for 2,415 new units by 2030, increasing housing inventory by 10 percent


Most Southern California cities have missed a deadline to revise long-term housing plans to meet state-mandated standards – but not Yorba Linda.

The city is the first in Orange County to adopt a state-mandated plan, providing a blueprint for the construction of 2,415 new residential units deemed necessary over the rest of the decade, the Orange County Register reported.

In a letter to city officials in Yorba Linda, the state Housing and Community Development Department said it’s “pleased to find the adopted housing element in full compliance with state housing element law.”

The finding is based on a rezoning plan to facilitate housing and a commitment to remove certain constraints to homebuilding, in addition to programs to boost “fair housing,” the letter said.

State law requires cities in the six-county Southern California Association of Governments region to revise the “housing element” of their general plans every eight

years to address shelter needs at all income levels. The current planning period runs from October 2021 through October 2029.

The state has determined that Southern California needs to plan for 1.34 million new homes by the end of 2029.

Yorba Linda’s share of that target is 2,415 homes, including at least 1,216 that must be affordable to low-income residents, and another 457 units must be affordable to moderate-income residents. The city needs to build at least 742 market-rate homes.

If all those homes get built, it will boost Yorba Linda’s housing stock by 10 percent.

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The city’s 144-page plan includes the rezoning of 27 sites, city Planning Manager Nate Farnsworth said. It also includes adding incentives for affordable housing development and zoning to allow residential development on religious sites.

It also commits the city to adopt measures to streamline approval of “accessory dwelling units,” also known as granny flats or mother-in-law units.

The challenge ahead is the rezoning of land to allow all the needed construction, a process that requires public hearings and environmental reviews. Under a state

law adopted in September, Southern California cities failing to get their housing plans adopted by Feb. 11 only have until next Oct. 15, instead of three years, to rezone all the needed parcels.

Under Yorba Linda’s Measure B, citizens must approve those rezonings in a citywide election before they can take effect. The soonest such an election can take place will be Nov. 8, Farnsworth said. But he believes the state housing department will have discretion not to find the city out of compliance, so long as the ballot initiative passes in November.

“For us, the biggest hurdle is we have this ballot initiative,” Farnsworth said. “We think it’s doable.”

[Orange County Register] – Dana Bartholomew

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