California must zone for 2.5M new homes by 2030, new plan says

Local jurisdictions have failed to meet past housing targets and face additional consequences if they fail to comply this cycle

Gavin Newsom with the Bay Area (Getty, iStock)
Gavin Newsom with the Bay Area (Getty, iStock)

California must zone for at least 2.5 million new homes by 2030 to help solve its housing crisis, more than double its goal from the last eight-year cycle and four times as many residences than were built during that period.

At least 1 million of those homes must be affordable, according to the East Bay Times, citing a plan that the California Department of Housing and Community Development released on March 2. The department updates the report every four years to outline housing challenges and strategies over the next decade.

“After decades of under-production, supply is far behind need, and housing and rental costs are soaring,” Megan Kirkeby, the department’s deputy director of housing policy, told the East Bay Times. “The statewide housing plan helps visualize this need. We need new construction of all types. We lag behind where we need to be.”

The new goal pales by comparison with the 3.5 million new homes by 2025 that then-gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom campaigned on in 2018. While Newsom said early in his term as governor that that number was “aspirational,” it shows how far the goalposts have moved in recent years as housing prices have just kept rising. The statewide median sales price of a single-family home hit a record $828,000 in August.

Local jurisdictions built less than half the state’s goal of 1.2 million new homes over the previous cycle, and past efforts to meet housing targets under the state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment have also fallen well short, the East Bay Times said. Those that fail to comply could lose state grants for programs such as parks and the ability to issue building permits and block projects that contain affordable homes, the newspaper said.

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They also face monthly fines starting at $10,000 and potential legal action from the state, which is what happened in Huntington Beach in 2019.

“Those are tools we have to encourage folks to do the work to come into compliance,” Kirkeby said. Her department has “broad discretion” to impose other measures on cities and counties, such as appointing an agent to complete the housing planning process on their behalf, she said.

Jurisdictions have less time than before to rezone land for future housing. In Southern California, cities that received state approval of housing plans by Feb. 12 have three years to zone for more homes, the East Bay Times said. Those that didn’t — all but eight of the region’s 191 cities, according to Kirkeby — must complete the rezoning outlined in their plans by Oct. 15, 2023, to remain in compliance.

[East Bay Times] — Matthew Niksa

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