California law requires an update of the Housing Element every eight years in order to remain relevant and reflective of the community's changing housing needs. The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) must approve the updated Housing Element.
Over the years, California has steadily increased the penalties for not having a legally compliant Housing Element, and this trend is expected to continue. A non-compliant Housing Element can affect the City negatively in the following ways:
- More frequent Housing Element updates. When a city does not adopt its Housing Element within the established timeframe, subsequent updates must be completed on a 4-year schedule rather than an 8-year schedule. A 4-year update requirement would create an ongoing administrative and cost burden to the City.
- Carryover of unfilled housing allocation. If the City does not demonstrate the availability of adequate sites to accommodate its Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation, the shortfall is carried over and added to the RHNA for the next planning period. This creates an additional burden to the City in regard to the number/types of housing that must be planned for in the City.
- Reduced availability of grant funds. Some state grant funds are contingent upon Housing Element certification or give priority to those jurisdictions with a certified Housing Element. Therefore, without an approved Housing Element the City could miss out on additional funding opportunities.