Association of Bay Area Governments adopts 2023-31 housing needs allocation

Josh Kahen/File
Final approval of allocations of housing units will likely not be available until the summer of 2021, according to Association of Bay Area Governments spokesperson Leah Zippert.

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The Association of Bay Area Governments, or ABAG, adopted the proposed 2023-31 Regional Housing Needs Allocation, or RHNA, at its Oct. 15 executive board meeting.

The RHNA is a proposed methodology by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, or HCD, that produces a standard number of housing units that must be planned for and distributed between the nine counties and 101 municipalities of the Bay Area, according to an ABAG press release.

Leah Zippert, an ABAG spokesperson, said Bay Area municipalities must allocate upward of 441,000 housing units for the upcoming RHNA cycle.

Zippert said this allocation process, in which cities must update the “Housing Element” of their general plans, is one that requires public engagement. She added that after review of public comments, revisions could be made to the proposal before it goes back to the ABAG executive board for ultimate approval.

“These numbers are not final,” Zippert said. “Where we are in the process is that it will be released for public comment on Sunday and we expect a public hearing November 12 to discuss. The public comment period will end November 24.”

The 441,000 figure was developed through analysis of Bay Area household incomes reported through census data, according to a report from the HCD. The figure is representative of projected housing needs for the 2023-31 cycle across the Bay Area.

Jesse Arreguín, ABAG president and Berkeley mayor, emphasized in a tweet that the allocation process can be “contentious.” Zippert clarified that Arreguín was referring to talks within the methodology committee, in which stakeholders, including homeowners, housing agencies and health care officials, discuss the development of the proposed figure.

This assertion was backed by John Goodwin, another ABAG spokesperson, who said these allocation discussions are “where the rubber meets the road” in policymaking between local, regional and state government officials.

This year, ABAG has 350,000 additional units to plan for compared to the previous cycle, Zippert said. She also emphasized that even with last cycle’s smaller projections of housing needs, RHNA brought about a lengthy timeline of discussion surrounding allocations of housing units. The previous cycle of discussions lasted a year, including 12 meetings with the methodology committee to reach consensus.

She added that final approval of allocations of these units would likely not be available until the summer of 2021.

“The adopted proposed methodology is the best way to share the housing responsibility among all our region’s local governments, to encourage housing in areas with good access to jobs and in locations designated by the state as high-opportunity areas, and to meet fair housing and greenhouse gas reduction requirements,” Arreguín said in an email.


Contact Matt Brown at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @maattttbrown .