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General Plan and Housing Element Update

 

Public Input:

City Seeks Community Input on the General Plan Housing Element Update

The City of San Ramon has begun the process of updating the Housing Element of the City’s General Plan to ensure the City is prepared to meet the future housing needs for the community.

For the 2023-2031 Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) cycle, the City of San Ramon is required to identify where 5,000+ additional housing units could be located throughout the City. Of the 5,000+ additional housing units, 61% (3,000+ units) must be affordable to lower income households.

As an initial opportunity for public input, the Community Development Department invites the public to use the interactive map below to identify the top three areas where you would like to see additional housing focused.

Additional opportunities for community input will be available through 2022.

  • In order to plan for the estimated 5,000 housing units required by the State of California (final numbers to be confirmed by December 2021), multiple housing types such as duplexes, apartments, and condominiums may be used.
  • Units are not credited towards fulfilling a city’s RHNA until the unit is under construction.  Approved developments such as the 4,500-unit CityWalk project located in Bishop Ranch are often phased over a long period of time (25+ years), meaning only a portion of these projects will count towards meeting our 2023-2031 RHNA obligation.

How to Share Your Thoughts:

  • No login is needed. Simply click the ‘house’ icon in the upper right corner to begin adding housing locations to the map. Each user can add up to three housing locations by clicking the location on the map (within the urban growth boundary) where you would prefer additional housing be incorporated into the City’s General Plan. Once you have clicked the map to add a housing location, this location can not be deleted or edited.

  • Housing cannot be planned in designated Open Space or Flood Zones, Geologic Hazard Abatement Districts (GHAD)/Conservation Easements, or outside the City’s Urban Growth Boundary. These areas have been delineated on the map. Housing could potentially be planned in other zones where existing residential and commercial uses exist.

  • Each user can also support housing locations added by others. Click on the blue "thumbs up" icon to support an existing location. There is no limit on the number of locations a user can support.

  • A desktop computer is recommended for navigating and adding housing locations to the map.

Have additional thoughts you’d like to share? Email the Community Development Department at planning@sanramon.ca.gov.

Map: Community/Public Input

The map below reflects housing locations suggested by the community.

 

FAQ:

What is a General Plan?

In the State of California, every incorporated city has a General Plan: an outline of how the City wants to mature over time. Within the General Plan, every parcel of land within the city is designated for a specific type of land use.

Land Use is one of the required Elements that a city’s General Plan must include (the others are Housing, Circulation, Conservation, Open Space, Noise, Environmental Justice, and Safety). Additional Elements (i.e. Parks and Recreation and Air Quality) may also be included, depending upon local conditions.

Land use designations may include uses such as residentialparkopen space, commercialnon-residential, and mixed use (a combination of two or more types). Zoning Ordinance regulations implement the General Plan land use designations and outline the development standards for each type of land use.

How Are Changes to the General Plan Made?

Changes to the General Plan are made through review and approval of a General Plan Amendment, including public hearings with the City Council, Planning Commission, and numerous Boards and Committees.

Unique to San Ramon, a local ballot initiative, Measure G, was approved by San Ramon voters in 1999, requires a super majority vote (4 out of 5 representatives) from both the San Ramon Planning Commission and the San Ramon City Council, and three (3) public hearings with each public body for any changes to the General Plan (General Plan Amendment).

The Planning Commission always votes first with a recommendation on any proposed General Plan Amendment, followed by a decision by the City Council.

What is a Housing Element?

A city’s General Plan must include a Housing Element that, unlike the other Elements, must be updated every 8 years for a new housing cycle. The Housing Element must demonstrate how a community can meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. The Housing Element includes an assessment of all existing housing, as well as the projected housing needs within the community, an analysis of adequate housing sites, and an analysis of potential constraints on housing development. It also establishes the community’s vision for local policies and programs to direct the way housing develops, consistent with State law.

How Are Changes to the Housing Element Made?

Changes to the Housing Element are considered a General Plan Amendment because the Housing Element is part of the City’s General Plan (See How Are Changes to the General Plan Made?). State law also requires certification of an adopted Housing Element by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

Who Prepares the Housing Element?
The Housing Element is prepared by City staff and adopted by a City’s legislative body (City Council) and is part of the local community’s General Plan. Additionally, State law requires certification of the adopted Housing Element by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
What is the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) and How Does It Relate to the Housing Element?

The Regional Housing Needs Allocation, RHNA (often pronounced “REE-nah”), is a process that is repeated on an eight (8) year cycle when updating the Housing Element.

The State’s role, through the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), is to determine how many total housing units (by income category) each region (including the Bay Area) within the State will need in an 8-year housing cycle, based on population projections and job growth.

For the Bay Area, the regional planning agency, Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), creates a methodology for allocating the Bay Area’s total housing need (by income category) to each of the 101 cities and nine (9) counties within the Bay Area. State law requires all jurisdictions plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community.

The City of San Ramon’s role is to plan and program the City’s share of the RHNA through the update of the Housing Element in the General Plan.

The upcoming RHNA cycle is for the period from 2023 to 2031. To learn more about the RHNA process, watch the video below, visit the Ask City Hall - Housing in San Ramon page, view the February 19, 2021 City Update Housing Update Presentation, and view the February 23, 2021 Joint City Council / Planning Commission RHNA Update Presentation.

How Can the Public Comment on Proposed Changes to the General Plan and the Housing Element?

Changes to the General Plan and to the Housing Element are reviewed through the General Plan Amendment process, including public hearings with the Planning Commission and City Council. The primary opportunities for public input include public workshops and public hearings with various Committee/Boards, Commissions, and City Council meetings.

What Happens If a Jurisdiction Does Not Adopt a Housing Element or the Element Does Not Comply with State Law?

If the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) determines that a Housing Element fails to substantially comply with the State’s Housing Element Law, there are potentially serious consequences. When a jurisdiction’s Housing Element is found to be out of compliance, a jurisdiction may be sued by the California Office of the Attorney General. A court may impose requirements for land use decisions until the jurisdiction brings its Housing Element into compliance with State law.

A Housing Element is considered out of compliance with State law if one of the following applies:

1. It has not been revised and updated by the statutory deadline, or

2. Its contents do not substantially comply with the statutory requirements. If a Housing Element is certified, there is a presumption that it is adequate, and a plaintiff must present an argument showing that it is in fact inadequate.

Over the years, California has steadily increased the penalties for not having a legally compliant Housing Element, and this trend is expected to continue.

Repercussions may include:

1. Limited access to State Funding. The Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) awards funds based on competitions that take into consideration the approval status of a community’s Housing Element.

2. Lawsuits. Developers and advocates may sue jurisdictions if their Housing Element is not compliant with State Law. Several potential consequences of being sued may include:

a. Mandatory compliance – The court may order the community to bring the Housing Element into compliance.

b. Suspension of local control on building matters – The court may suspend the locality's authority to issue building permits or grant zoning changes, variances or subdivision map approvals.

c. Court approval of housing developments – The court may step in and approve housing projects, including projects that may be opposed by the local community.

d. Fees – 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. These fees can easily exceed $100,000.