On September 30, 2018 Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1771 into law, approving significant reforms to the way local jurisdictions determine regional housing needs. AB 1771, authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-SM), makes several changes to this process, known as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process, including requiring the regional distribution to be more data-driven and equitable.
“The RHNA has not worked properly for quite some time,” said Assemblymember Bloom. “Local politics and flawed methodology have distorted the RHNA process and produced insufficient and inequitable housing across the state. AB 1771, by making the process more data-driven and equitable, will ensure that wealthier cities cannot skirt their responsibility to plan for and build housing. ”
The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) is a process by which the state projects the number of housing units a region needs to plan to accommodate over the next eight years. The local council of governments takes the regional number produced by the RHNA and assigns a share to each jurisdiction within the region by income category, taking into account factors such as job growth and regional constraints to housing development. The RHNA process plays a critical role in setting the stage for housing production and is designed to bring local zoning and planning in alignment with a jurisdiction’s housing need.
Unfortunately, the process is far less data-driven than envisioned and is heavily influenced by local politics. As a result, wealthier, job-rich areas that could accommodate more housing often have lower RHNA allocations. AB 1771 makes a number of changes to the RHNA allocation process to ensure fairness and equity across regions. Specifically, the bill requires distributions to be more data-driven, requires greater transparency in the process, and adds additional state oversight to ensure that the process is consistent with statewide climate change goals. AB 1771 also requires the RHNA to affirmatively further fair and equitable housing and more accurately reflect job growth and market demand for housing.
“The RHNA is the foundation for local zoning, planning, and building decisions; reforming it is essential to addressing the housing crisis. AB 1771 will ensure that housing needs are allocated more fairly across regions and in a way that serves the state’s equity and environmental goals,” said Bloom.