Housing Element Implementation
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What efforts has the City made to inform residents of the Housing Element work effort to date?
In October 2020, the City Council and Planning Commission conducted a joint workshop to kick off the Housing Element update. At this meeting, staff introduced the creation of a new City website (https://www.ylhousingelementupdate.com) that would be dedicated to providing an overview of the Housing Element process, frequently asked questions, allow for citizen input on potential housing sites and to provide comments, and to announce future events related to the Housing Element.
The City also released a Housing Element survey for residents to provide input on what they see as the most important housing needs and to provide feedback on their preference in relation to various policy questions. The survey was posted on the City’s website for approximately four months, with a link advertised in the City’s eNews, on the City’s website, and on the City’s social media accounts (i.e., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).
The City also distributed a survey targeted towards the City’s senior citizens to solicit feedback about their perceived housing needs. This survey was posted on the City’s website, published in the eNews, emailed to the Parks & Recreation distribution list of approximately 2,200 people 55 years and older, and hard copies were distributed at the Senior Center in March and April 2021 during the Senior Lunch Program, the drive-thru grocery program, recreational classes and the coffee socials. The City also collected contact information for any residents requesting to be informed about housing information in the future.
In January 2021, the City hosted a meeting with its local religious congregations to discuss the Housing Element update and to present the concept of a congregational housing overlay to allow for housing to be built on religious sites pursuant to AB 1851. All 37 religious congregations were invited to participate in this event and 12 of the 37 religious congregations were represented at this meeting.
On February 24, March 24, April 28, June 9, July 14, and July 28, 2021, the City’s Planning Commission conducted workshops focusing on the development of the Housing Element sites inventory. The public was notified through the City’s eNews, on the City’s website, on the City’s social media accounts, through published advertisements in the newspaper, and emailed to all individuals requesting to stay informed of the process. In June 2021, City staff conducted a stakeholder meeting with property owners of all previously identified potential candidate housing sites at the Yorba Linda Community Center. Over 250 invitations were sent out and nearly 100 individuals participated in the meeting. Dozens of individual follow-up meetings with property owners were conducted to discuss their specific sites. Furthermore, the City’s Traffic Commission discussed the Housing Element at their April 22 and September 29, 2021 meetings.
After all of this effort and public outreach, on August 3, 2021, the City Council discussed the draft Housing Element sites inventory prior to submitting the draft Housing Element to HCD for review. The public was notified through the City’s eNews, on the City’s website, on the City’s social media accounts, through published advertisements in the newspaper, and emailed to all individuals requesting to stay informed of the process.
The draft Housing Element was made available on the City’s website starting on August 27, 2021. The public was notified of its availability through the City’s eNews, on the City’s website, on the City’s social media accounts, through published advertisements in the newspaper, and emailed to all individuals requesting to stay informed of the process. The City received comments back from HCD on October 26, 2021, and made substantive changes to the Housing Element.
The City resubmitted its revised draft Housing Element to HCD on December 8, 2021, and made the document available to the public for review and comment and advertised this effort through the City’s eNews, on the City’s website, on the City’s social media accounts, through published advertisements in the newspaper, and emailed to all individuals requesting to stay informed of the process.
On January 12, 2022, the City’s Planning Commission conducted a public hearing and recommended that the City Council adopt the Housing Element.
On February 1, 2022, the City Council conducted a public hearing on the Housing Element; however, HCD had informed the City that it had some minor revisions for the Housing Element and recommended that the City Council postpone adoption of the Housing Element until it could make those refinements. The Council continued the public hearing until February 9, 2022. On February 4, 2021, the City received a second review letter from HCD and made the refinements requested by HCD. On February 7, 2022, the City posted its revised Housing Element onto the City’s website and made the document available to the public for review and comment. On February 9, 2022, the City Council conducted its public hearing on the Housing Element and adopted the Housing Element prior to the State deadline of February 11, 2022. On February 10, 2022, the City submitted its adopted Housing Element to HCD for review and received final approval from HCD on April 8, 2022.
On April 29, 2022, the City released a Notice of Preparation for a Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) and announced that the City would conduct a Scoping Session on the PEIR on May 23, 2022, in the Yorba Linda Community Center. The comment period for the Notice of Preparation ends on May 30, 2022. In June, the City is planning to release its PEIR for a 45-day public review period. This will be advertised through the City’s eNews, on the City’s website, on the City’s social media accounts, through a published advertisement in the newspaper, emailed to all individuals requesting to stay informed of the process, and will be directly mailed to all property owners within 2,000 feet of any of the proposed Housing Element sites.
On June 23, 2022, the City of Yorba Linda Traffic Commission held a noticed public meeting to discuss and review the Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) prepared for the proposed 2021-2029 Yorba Linda General Plan Housing Element Implementation Programs project. Public notice of the Traffic Commission meeting was mailed directly to all property owners within 2,000 feet of the 27 proposed Housing Element sites.
2. What has the City done to challenge the State-mandated RHNA obligation?
Over the past three years, Yorba Linda has been actively involved in the 6th cycle Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) preparation process with the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), and has provided regular updates on the progress of this effort in previous issues of the Yorba Linda Connection. Yorba Linda Councilwoman Peggy Huang serves as the Chair of SCAG’s RHNA Subcommittee, which was the committee responsible for providing detailed analysis and recommendations to SCAG’s Regional Council on the RHNA methodology. Unfortunately, the RHNA Subcommittee’s recommendation for an equitable housing solution that was unanimously supported by SCAG’s Community, Economic and Human Development Committee was overturned through a last-minute decision by its Regional Council to redistribute significantly more housing into Orange County and Los Angeles County. This resulted in Yorba Linda’s draft RHNA allocation increasing from 200 to 2,415 units.
Despite numerous letters from City staff, the Mayor, the City Council and numerous individual residents, the City’s efforts to lower its RHNA obligation have been ignored by SCAG and by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. These letters are available to view here.
3. What are the next steps now that the Housing Element has been adopted and deemed compliant by the State?
Despite significant and sustained City efforts to challenge State-imposed requirements (see FAQ linked here for more information), the City adopted the 2021–2029 Housing Element (Housing Element) on February 9, 2022. On April 8, 2022, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) approved the City’s Housing Element and found it to be in full compliance with State Housing Element Law (Government Code Article 10.6). Following HCD approval, the City is required to ensure the continued and effective implementation of the Housing Element Programs.
In the near term, 27 opportunity sites are proposed for rezoning to provide housing opportunities in compliance with State law. An Environmental Impact Report is currently being prepared to analyze associated potential environmental impacts and will be made available in June 2022 for public review and comment. In addition, public hearings will be held this summer to provide additional opportunity for public review and comment. Open houses will also be scheduled to provide additional information and opportunities for questions and feedback. Measure B (Yorba Linda Right-to-Vote Amendment) applies to the 27 sites proposed for rezoning and a corresponding ballot measure is planned for November 8, 2022 as part of the general election.
4. What types of housing does the Housing Element address and what is the definition of “affordable housing”?
The Housing Element addresses a variety of housing needs and provides programs to support a range of housing types and affordability. Housing affordability categories include Moderate Income, Lower Income, Very Low Income, and Extremely Low Income. These are based on surveys of local area median income (AMI). For example, for Orange County, Lower Income for a family of four is currently defined as $102,450 per year. “Affordable housing cost” for lower-income households is defined in State law as not more than 30 percent of gross household income with variations (Health and Safety Code Section 50052.5). “Housing cost” commonly includes rent or mortgage payments, utilities (gas, electricity, water, sewer, garbage, recycling, green waste), and property taxes and insurance on owner-occupied housing. Examples of existing affordable housing developments in Yorba Linda:
Oakcrest Terrace (source: National CORE, 2022)
Oakcrest Heights (source: National CORE, 2022)
Yorba Linda Palms Apartments (source: Avanath Communities, 2022)
Villa Plumosa (source: National Core, 2022)
Parkwood Apartments at Yorba Linda (source: American Housing Partners, 2022)
Altrudy Senior Apartments (source: https://altrudylaneseniors.com/)
5. How were the Housing Element opportunity sites selected?
The City conducted a strategic and transparent effort to identify and narrow down the sites that were ultimately selected for the Housing Element. The first step was to simply use existing State laws and existing land already zoned for development to meet our requirements (i.e., ADUs permitted on every residential parcel per State law, congregational lands for housing as permitted by AB 1851, etc.); however, the State ended up only giving the City credit for 400 ADUs (additional information is provided under FAQ #7). The City was also able to get credit for 355 units on congregational lands per AB 1851. Most of these units qualified as meeting the lower income RHNA units.
The City also attempted to get the State to participate as a partner in resolving its housing crisis by allowing for development of the State-owned Coal Canyon property, which could have accommodated approximately 900 housing units. However, the State refused to allow this property to be included in the Housing Element.
With only 755 out of 2,415 units accounted for, the City released a survey to the public with an interactive map seeking public recommendations for potential housing sites. Concurrently, the City conducted its own analysis to analyze all properties greater than 1 acre in size that could potentially accommodate additional housing. We then used HCD’s guidelines and criteria for determining eligible sites to remove sites that would not meet State law requirements. This resulted in a list of properties that were eligible potential candidate sites.
City staff reached out to the property owners to determine which property owners would be interested or supportive of having their properties considered for rezone purposes. As the candidate sites list was refined with guidance from the Planning Commission and City Council through various public workshops, City staff recommended various levels of density to each site based on the context of its surrounding geographic conditions. Ultimately, this was further narrowed down to the final list that was approved by HCD.
6. The State of California owns a large parcel at the far east side of the City. Why isn’t this property included in the Housing Element?
There is an approximately 30-acre parcel located at the east side of the City referred to as Coal Canyon. This property was zoned as a Planned Development and was originally anticipated for commercial development. This property is owned by the State of California and could be rezoned to allow for higher density housing. However, when the City reached out to the State Department of General Services about its willingness to participate as a partner in the Housing Element, the State told the City that this property is not eligible for affordable housing in that it is restricted in its use as a wildlife corridor. City staff appealed this decision to HCD, who also stated that this property is not eligible for housing purposes.
7. How much can Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) contribute to satisfying Yorba Linda’s required RHNA capacity?
Recent State housing laws passed in 2019 required that jurisdictions allow by right on every residential property at least one Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) and one Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU). With over 20,000 residential dwelling units in the City, one would assume that the RHNA could easily be met simply by utilizing ADUs. In June 2020, HCD established guidelines to regulate how many ADUs it would allow a jurisdiction to count towards meeting its RHNA. The general rule is that a jurisdiction can use its ADU trends from 2018-2020 or five times the ADU construction trends prior to 2018.
It is important to note that both of these methods were based on construction trends either during the COVID-19 pandemic or prior to the changes in ADU laws. Therefore, the City conducted its own ADU trend analysis and determined that over the course of the eight-year housing cycle, the City would likely see approximately 1,100 ADUs constructed. HCD initially agreed that this was a reasonable request and the City sought to find housing sites to accommodate the remaining 1,300 housing units in the City’s RHNA.
In the City’s first comment letter back from HCD, the City was informed that since it only produced an annual average of 5 ADUs in prior years, HCD was only willing to count 40 ADUs total over the entire 8-year cycle towards the City’s RHNA. Initially, when the City inquired about this significant reduction of over 1,000 units previously agreed upon by HCD, the State indicated that it would be willing to allow the City to double its annual average to 10 ADUs per year for a total of 80 ADUs over the entire 8-year cycle. City staff pressed back on this determination through a detailed ADU analysis and was able to get HCD to count a total of 400 ADUs towards its RHNA over the entire 8-year cycle, which is one of the highest numbers that has been allowed by HCD.
8. What opportunity sites are proposed for rezoning to create housing capacity and how does Measure B apply?
Twenty-seven opportunity sites are proposed for rezoning to accommodate housing opportunities in support of satisfying the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). While the City of Yorba Linda is required to plan for the required residential capacity under the RHNA, the City is not required to construct the dwelling units.
A summary of the proposed rezoning sites is provided in Chapter IV of the Housing Element and also summarized in the issued EIR Notice of Preparation. Potential environmental effects related to implementation of the Housing Element are being evaluated and the City invites your input.
The Yorba Linda Right-To-Vote Amendment (a.k.a. Measure B), is a citizen sponsored, voter-approved initiative, incorporated within the City’s Municipal Code. Measure B was passed by the electorate of Yorba Linda in 2006. It requires citywide elections for the approval of certain “Major Amendments” to the City’s Planning Policy Documents (defined within Measure B). Measure B also imposed new noticing and public hearing requirements for “Regular Amendments” to City Planning Policy Documents, and established height restrictions for structures. Measure B applies to the 27 sites proposed for rezoning and a corresponding ballot measure is planned for November 8, 2022 as part of the general election. This process will be similar to Measures H and I (consisting of Savi Ranch properties) successfully passed by Yorba Linda voters on June 5, 2012.
Click on image to open interactive map
9. What are the consequences to Yorba Linda if the necessary rezoning and Measure B vote are not successful?
The California State Legislature has granted authority to HCD to utilize several tools to use “to review any action or failure to act by a local government (that HCD finds) inconsistent with an adopted housing element or housing element law. This includes failure to implement program actions included in the housing element. HCD may revoke housing element compliance if the local government’s actions do not comply with state law.” Jurisdictions like Yorba Linda are subject to a range of penalties and consequences, including, but not limited to the following:
Legal Suits and Attorney Fees: Local governments with noncompliant housing elements are vulnerable to litigation from housing rights’ organization, developers, and HCD. If a jurisdiction faces a court action stemming from its lack of compliance and either loses or settles the case, it often must pay substantial attorney fees to the plaintiff’s attorneys in addition to the fees paid to its own attorneys. Potential consequences of lawsuits include: mandatory compliance within 120 days, suspension of local control on building matters, and court approval of housing developments.
Loss of Permitting Authority: Courts have authority to take local government residential and nonresidential permit authority to bring the jurisdiction’s General Plan and housing element into substantial compliance with State law. The court may suspend the locality’s authority to issue building permits or grant zoning changes, variances, or subdivision map approvals – giving local governments a strong incentive to bring their housing element into compliance.
Financial Penalties: Local governments are subject to court-issued judgements directing jurisdictions to bring a housing element into substantial compliance with state housing element law. If a jurisdiction’s housing element continues to be found out of compliance, courts can fine jurisdictions up to $100,000 per month, and if they are not paid, multiply that by a factor of six.
Court Receivership: Courts may appoint an agent with all powers necessary to remedy identified housing element deficiencies and bring the jurisdiction’s housing element into substantial compliance with housing element law.
Streamlined Ministerial Approval Process: Proposed developments in localities that have not yet made sufficient progress towards their allocation of the regional housing need are now subject to less rigorous “ministerial” approvals in order to hasten the production of housing and bring a jurisdiction into compliance with its state-determined housing need allocation.
10. What are the primary implementation actions needed to carry forward Housing Element goals and programs?
To address a variety of community housing needs and to comply with State law, the adopted Housing Element includes 20 programs to implement housing goals which are described in Chapter V of the Housing Element. Programs include a variety of approaches and strategies as summarized here:
Conserve and Improve Existing Housing
Residential Rehabilitation Program
Housing Community Preservation and Abatement
Multifamily Acquisition and Improvement
Section 8 Rental Assistance
Provision of Affordable Housing
5. Affordable Housing Development Assistance
6. Mortgage Assistance Program
7. Sustainable and Green Building
Adequate Residential Sites
8. Housing Opportunity Sites & Rezone Program
8a. Lot Consolidation Program
9. Affordable Housing Overlay
10. Commercial Mixed-Use Overlay
11. Congregational Land Overlay
12. Promote Accessory Dwelling Units
13. Annexation Areas in Sphere of Influence
Removal of Governmental Constraints
14. Measure B Evaluation
15. Multi-family Development Standards and Processing Procedures
16. Affordable Housing Density Bonus
17. Administrative Adjustment Process
18. Zoning Text Amendments for Special Needs Housing
19. SB 35 Streamlining
Equal Housing Opportunities and Special Needs
20. Fair Housing/Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing
Timing for each of the programs is identified in Chapter V of the Housing Element, and programs listed under Adequate Residential Sites are being implemented in the near term in compliance with State law timelines and further described under FAQ #8 above.
11. How can I find out more about the Housing Element and related implementation and what are the opportunities to participate and comment?
Reviewing this website is a great place to start! There is quite a bit of information on why housing elements are required and what they entail. Importantly, the adopted Yorba Linda Housing Element may be accessed here: Housing Element and Appendix. There are many ways to learn more and express questions and thoughts:
Sign up to receive updates here
Review and provide comments on the Environmental Impact Report that addresses Housing Element implementation (available June 2022)
Attend Planning Commission and City Council Public Hearings (June through August)
Attend upcoming Open Houses (Summer 2022)
Contact City planning staff with any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org