The majority of Bay Area residents appear to be on track to miss a crucial housing deadline. This would expose delinquent jurisdictions a escalating list of state-imposed penalties.
Bay Area counties and cities that do not adopt a housing element approved by the state by May 31 face a shorter timeline to implement a rezoning plan outlined in their housing elements. Housing elements are a blueprint created by cities every eight years as a way to prove their ability to reach California's housing goals. Housing elements are a map of where new housing can be built in a jurisdiction. Rezoning is the process by which local zoning laws are changed to permit the number and types of homes that the housing element proposes.
The deadline for rezonings is Jan. 31, 2019. Jurisdictions who adopt a housing element approved before May 31 have three years. A spokesperson for the HCD confirmed on May 17 that they would not be considered compliant under state housing law until they completed the required rezoning. This means they would continue to be subjected to punitive measures such as builder's remedies and be ineligible for funding from state agencies for affordable housing, transportation, and other infrastructure.
It is a complicated process that involves public hearings, discretionary approval from several city authorities, and analysis in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act. There is no way to know if an 8-month deadline would be feasible for all the jurisdictions that are likely to miss the May 31, 2015 deadline.
As of May 22, only 20 of the 109 jurisdictions that comprise the Bay Area had adopted a housing element approved, and one more is expected to join them this week. Housing and Community Development is reviewing 30 jurisdictions' housing elements. If HCD approves these plans and they are adopted by May 31, the deadline could be met.
53 jurisdictions (including San Jose, Walnut Creek, and Hayward) have submitted an initial plan to the state, but it has not been approved. According to a spokesperson for the HCD, five additional jurisdictions -- Alameda County Martinez Daly City Half Moon Bay Vallejo and Vallejo-- have not submitted a plan to state.
Even with these rough numbers, it is clear that the Bay Area has done better than Southern California did in February last year when all but six jurisdictions of the 197 in the region missed the first and second deadlines for the adoption of housing elements.
The Orange County Register reported that many cities, including Los Angeles at the time, had said the expedited timeline would be impossible. Last July, the state legislature with approval from Governor Brown intervened to save these cities. Gavin Newsom granted three-year extensions to jurisdictions around Sacramento, San Diego, and Southern California.