California needs more housing, but 97% of cities and counties are failing to issue enough RHNA permits.
In 2017, neighborhood leaders gathered in Long Beach to discuss a City Hall plan to address the city’s housing shortage. To increase the housing supply and stem skyrocketing residential costs, planners proposed multi-story apartment buildings line major streets and boulevards throughout the city, including its affluent, mainly suburban east side.
To the planners, it was an equitable solution to the housing crisis. To neighborhood associations, it was armageddon.
“There was a passionate, angry plea … demanding the city halt the plans for ruining neighborhoods,” said activist Corliss Lee. “With increased building heights comes lots of people and cars.”
In the ensuing outcry, residents mobbed town hall meetings and ultimately forced the city to compromise, concentrating new housing mostly in downtown Long Beach.
The Long Beach revolt may be symptomatic of California’s losing battle with an ever-worsening housing crisis. California needs between 1.8 million and 3.5 million new homes by 2025, state and private reports say. To get there, cities and counties would have to approve two to four times the number of homes they’ve been permitting in the past few years.
But instead of approving more homes, almost every California city and county is falling behind its state-mandated housing goals, a Southern California News Group analysis of state data shows.
Most cities and counties comply with a state law requiring them to plan and zone for housing at all income levels. But fewer than 3%—just 15 jurisdictions—were on track to actually build those homes by the end of 2018.
Among SCNG’s findings:
97% of all cities and counties were behind in permitting new housing sought under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment process, or RHNA (pronounced “reena”).
Almost two-thirds of local governments are less than 50% on track.
Almost half are behind in all four homebuilding categories: very-low-income, low-income, moderate-income and above-moderate-income.