On Friday, November 12, 2021, the Administrative Committee of the Association of Bay Area Government (ABAG) formally rejected 27 of 28 calls for housing allocation projects filed by local jurisdictions in the Bay Area region. In approving final written refusals for almost all appeals filed by towns and counties in the Bay Area, the Committee expressed strong confidence in the regional housing needs allocation plan (âRHNAâ) prepared by the ABAG Housing Methodology Committee and approved in May. Local jurisdictions in the Bay Area must now incorporate Plan housing allowances into their housing components.
The Committee’s action is an important step in the state-wide RHNA process for several years, in which the State Department of Housing and Community Development (âHCDâ) determines the number of dwellings that each region needs to provide in the next Housing component cycle. Subsequently, the regional councils of governments decide how to distribute the regional HCD allocation to each city and county in the region. For the next housing component cycle (2023-2031), HCD has allocated a total of 441,176 housing units to Bay Area jurisdictions.
After ABAG published its draft RHNA plan, 27 jurisdictions appealed against their allocations. One jurisdiction, Sonoma County, submitted two separate appeals, bringing the total number of appeals to 28. Typically, under state housing component laws, jurisdictions were allowed to appeal on the grounds that ABAG did not adequately take into account the information submitted by the court to ABAG or that ABAG did not follow the required methodology prescribed by state law on the element of lodging.
The Bay Area jurisdictions have appealed their allowances for a wide variety of reasons. Among the most common arguments, ABAG did not adequately take into account the availability of land suitable for urban development or conversion to residential use and that ABAG’s methodology did not rule out future development on land located in various areas at risk of natural disasters.
After public hearings, ABAG dismissed almost all of the appeals. The only partially successful appeal was one filed by Contra Costa County, which argued that ABAG incorrectly included an area annexed to the city of Pittsburg in 2018 as part of the unincorporated County of Contra Costa in the Plan Bay Area 2050 Blueprint. The reduction in the county’s total number of households in 2050 (the benchmark allocation for the RHNA methodology) by 412 households resulted in a reduction in the county’s total RHNA allocation by 35 units. These units will be transferred to the city of Pittsburg.
The ABAG Board of Directors will meet on December 16, 2021 to review and adopt the final RHNA plan. Once this happens, local jurisdictions should look to updating their housing items to incorporate their RHNA allowances. This includes updating their inventories of land suitable for residential development to accommodate all new housing units allocated by ABAG.