Since 1969, California law has required that all cities and counties demonstrate how they will meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. The state forecasts the need for housing based on population projections, and then each region must show how it will accommodate that need. When these forecasts are updated, housing plans, known as housing elements, must be updated too.
The Housing Element of the General Plan is designed to provide the city with a coordinated and comprehensive strategy for promoting the production of safe, decent and affordable housing within the community. A priority of both state and local governments, Government Code Section 65580 states the intent of creating housing elements:
The availability of housing is of vital statewide importance, and the early attainment of decent housing and a
suitable living environment for every Californian family is a priority of the highest order.
The City of Carlsbad is updating its housing plan, something required by state law to ensure the city is meeting the housing needs of all members of the community. This includes updating city housing policies and designating space for about 3,900 new housing units by 2029, of which about 2,100 units need to be affordable for people with very low to moderate incomes.
The city gathered input through an online survey that was available from Aug. 7 - Aug. 24 to help develop a plan that best reflects the community's needs, values and priorities when it comes to new housing.
Based on all this, staff will create maps showing specific combinations of properties that will meet the state’s housing goals. These maps will be shared with the public for input as part of the new steps of the project. A final plan must be completed and approved by the state by next April.
Why this matters
Providing housing to meet the needs of all income levels is critical to the social and economic health of a city.
It can be challenging for coastal cities like Carlsbad to attract teachers, police officers and other middle-income professionals because of the high cost of housing.
Children who grow up in Carlsbad have a hard time staying here due to housing affordability.
Like cities throughout California, Carlsbad has seen an increase in homelessness and the cost associated with managing the effects on the community.
Having an approved housing plan makes Carlsbad eligible for state grants to help fund infrastructure improvements.
If Carlsbad doesn’t meet its deadline to create a plan to accommodate the state’s forecasted housing needs, the city could face tens of thousands of dollars in fines per month until a plan is approved by the state.
Without an approved housing plan, the risk of housing-related lawsuits increases.
Per state law, the Housing Element has two main purposes:
To provide an assessment of both current and future housing needs and constraints in meeting these needs
To provide a strategy that establishes housing goals, policies, and programs.
The city's current Housing Element is an eight-year plan for the 2013-2021 period (April 30, 2013 – April 29, 2021), which differs from the city’s other General Plan elements that cover a much longer period. The Housing Element serves as an integrated part of the General Plan, but is updated more frequently to ensure its relevancy and accuracy.
The Housing Element identifies strategies and programs that focus on:
Conserving and improving existing affordable housing
Maximizing housing opportunities throughout the community
Assisting in the provision of affordable housing
Removing governmental and other constraints to housing investment; and