Regional Housing Needs Allocations (RHNA) for Albany
1999 – 2006: 277 allocated, 343 built = 66 over (but 73 low income not built)
2007 – 2014: 276 allocated, 195 completed / committed = 81 shortfall to date
Every 8 years the State determines the total need for housing in each region of California. This effort is rooted in State environmental protection laws which try to prevent development of untouched land by encouraging more housing in already-developed cities and areas (“infill”). For the planning cycle 2007-2014, the State has determined that the total need for additional housing in the San Francisco Bay Area is 214,500 units. A housing unit can be a penthouse, a converted garage “in-law” unit, a McGregor single-family house on its own lot, or a mobile home in a trailer park.
This total need for housing units is allocated across each of the nine counties and 100 cities in the Bay area by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). During the allocation process, known as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), ABAG takes into consideration job growth, water and sewer capacity, land availability, proximity to transit, and market demand for each locality. The RHNA is distributed among four income levels to ensure that the development of housing addresses the needs of all economic segments.
Albany’s allocation is about 1 percent of the total Bay Area’s assignment. The mix of housing units appropriate for different income levels.
Does the City of Albany have to build these allocated units?
No law requires the City of Albany to build housing. But the City is required to get approval of a “Housing Element” plan, for accommodating new housing, from the State’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Housing Elements must show zoning and other local regulations that will allow (or incent) creation, by others, of at least as many housing units as its RHNA. If the RHNA is not achieved with additional housing/commitments to build during a planning cycle, then the City must show HCD, in the Housing Element for the subsequent planning period, that the shortfall from the preceding cycle was due to reasons not controlled by the City.
During 1999 – 2006 Albany exceeded its RHNA of 276 with 66 more new units built than allocated. However most of those built were for moderate income levels, leading to a shortfall of 73 allocated lower income units that were not built.
In its current Housing Element application, Albany presents information that up to 127 low income units could have been built 1999 – 2006, if developers wished. It cites the suitability of potential sites due to their size, zoning, etc. If HCD disagrees, then some or all of the 73 lower income units’ shortfall will be added to the 2007-2014 allocation.
In addition to developers of larger multi-unit structures, another source of low income housing is “secondary” units created by homeowners on their own property. Examples are additions, or conversions of detached garages or other structures, forming (usually very modest) housing units. Few were completed with City permits since 1999. There is a possibility that more exist than received permits. Albany is considering an amnesty to identify such units. Newly found secondary units will not help with the RHNA, but Albany will know how much housing really exists.
How is Albany doing on its RHNA for 2007 – 2014?
The RHNA for 2007 – 2014 is 276 units, of which about 195 have been completed or committed (this may change since the planning period is underway.) 173 (net) of those completed are at University Village. Low income allocation in the RHNA is 107 units, of which 6 have been completed. It is very unlikely that many of the remaining low income units will be completed this planning cycle. Factors affecting low income housing across California 2007 - 2014 are:
State abolition of Redevelopment Agencies;
California ruling (Palmer) which prevents cities from requiring lower income housing units in rental developments;
weak real estate market part of the time period;
recession-reduced funds for governments to work on housing,
funds for nonprofits that try to increase low income housing.
Albany will account for the outcomes of the 2007 - 2014 RHNA in the Housing Element for 2015 - 2022, which the City will work on as soon as it is done with the Element for 2007 - 2014. More information about the Housing Element can be found on the City's website at http://www.albanyca.org/, and http://albany2035.org/
Other aspects of Albany’s Housing future will be covered in future blogs:
Where in Albany can Hundreds More Housing Units Fit?
What are Constraints to new Housing?
How are Albany Schools affected by New Housing?