Regional Housing Needs Allocation
What is the RHNA?
The State of California, as part of the State Housing Law, sets a targeted number of housing units that each regional council of governments in California must plan for. This targeted housing number known as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation, or RHNA, is updated every 8 years and is further divided amongst individual cities and counties by the regional council of governments.
How will the RHNA impact Santa Monica?
The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) serves as the regional council of governments for Southern California and is responsible for allocating the RHNA numbers between six counties and 191 cities, including the City of Santa Monica. This year, the regional allocation for Southern California is significantly larger than it has been in past years, in recognition of the severity of the State’s housing crisis. SCAG developed a methodology for splitting up the regional allocation, which is based on numerous factors such as the past, present, and future demand for housing, access to jobs, quality of transit, among other factors. To read more about the methodology, visit SCAG’s website.
It is important to recognize that the RHNA is a targeted housing number - Cities and counties do not have to build this number of units, but rather they are required by the state to plan for them and demonstrate that under the current land use and development standards, there is capacity to accommodate for this number of housing units. However, if a jurisdiction fails to demonstrate that they can accommodate their RHNA, it can result in the loss of local control and important funding resources.
For the RHNA cycle planning period of October 2021 through October 2029, the Southern California region received an allocation of 1.3 million units. That means that the State is requiring cities within Southern California to demonstrate that they can plan for and have the capacity to build up to 1.3 million new housing units over the next 8 years. For this 6th Cycle of the RHNA, Santa Monica has received an allocation of 8,874 new housing units, of which about 70% must be for lower income households.
This allocation is significantly higher than previous RHNA cycles. In the current RHNA cycle (2013 to 2021), Santa Monica was required to plan for, on average, 209 units per year, whereas during this cycle (2021 to 2029), Santa Monica will have to plan for just over 1,100 units per year. This greater allocation means the City needs to re-think its growth strategy to accommodate this higher RHNA requirement.
Through the Housing Element process, we must show that the City has the regulatory and land use policies to accommodate our RHNA. Since the RHNA is a requirement imposed by the State, it is not a matter of IF Santa Monica will plan for these units, but where and how.
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