ABAG E-News, July 2020

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Association of Bay Area Governments

ABAG E-News, July 2020

Well-Attended General Assemblies

ABAG held a two-part General Assembly in June with 98 attendees at the Business Meeting on the 11th and 121 attendees at the Regional Planning Programs Webinar on the 25th.

At the Business Meeting, attendees reviewed the ABAG Budget and Work Plan for fiscal year 2020-2021, approved the Budget after considerable discussion about proposed member dues. The Finance Committee and Executive Board will look at reducing or adjusting the dues increase as presented in the Budget and Work Plan and will report back in October. The dues discussion will be shared with all delegates and alternates to the General Assembly. You can view the Business Meeting at abag.ca.gov/meetings/general-assembly-2020-jun-11.

The webinar — designed for local elected officials — presented information on ABAG-MTC’s planning activities and their nexus with housing. The session included presentations on Plan Bay Area 2050, the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) and Regional Early Planning (REAP) grant activities. Attendees included electeds, city and county staff, and interested parties.

This session was recorded and is available at abag.ca.gov/meetings/general-assembly-2020-jun-25.

Special Note: Agency Work Continues Despite COVID-19

While the Bay Area continues to deal with COVID-19 along with the rest of the country and world, Gov. Newsom’s March 4 Safer at Home, Stay at Home order provided guidance as California continues to prepare for its future. Our meetings are done on-line, with opportunities for the public to view and participate via public comments.

Just as much of the business of government continues, the Order did not waive key deadlines established by federal and state laws for either Plan Bay Area 2050 or for the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process required by state law to take place every eight years. Addressing the Bay Area’s long-term housing, transportation, economic, and environmental challenges will remain a top priority after the current health emergency is over. The ABAG-MTC staff is working from home and has developed plans for remote participation in stakeholder meetings, as well as public engagement.

Plan Bay Area 2050

Elected officials can join in at the public meetings, provide comments, and get more information at planbayarea.org/2050-plan/blueprint/blueprint-public-comment.  There are opportunities to learn more by attending one of the ABAG or MTC committee meetings where the Blueprint will be presented.  The full listing of these meetings is available at planbayarea.org/meetings-and-events#meetings.

Draft Blueprint Findings Released!

The Draft Blueprint serves as the “first draft” of Plan Bay Area 2050, weaving together strategies and an expanded set of growth geographies to advance critical climate and equity goals. Designed to accommodate the 1.5 million new homes necessary to house future growth and address overcrowding, as well as 1.4 million new jobs, the Draft Blueprint integrates much-needed strategies to address our severe and longstanding housing crisis.

With infrastructure investments in walking, biking, and public transportation – as well as critical sea level protections designed to keep many Bay Area communities from flooding through 2050 – the Draft Blueprint makes meaningful steps towards the adopted Plan Bay Area 2050 Vision. Five key challenges remain – related to affordable housing, traffic congestion & transit crowding, displacement, climate emissions, and jobs-housing imbalances.

For more information on the Draft Blueprint, including equity and performance outcomes from the analysis process this spring, go to: planbayarea.org/blueprint.

Comments on the Draft Blueprint are being accepted through August 10, 2020 at planbayarea.org/2050-plan/blueprint/blueprint-public-comment.

Digital Alternatives for Planned In-person Public Engagement

There will be nine county-specific virtual public workshops, seven focus groups with community organizations, and five telephone town halls. In addition, there will be virtual office hours, flyers/surveys, a listening line, an official comment period and a statistically-valid poll – plenty of ways to provide feedback on this critical juncture in the long-range planning process!

Staff will use the input from this round of public engagement to inform strategy revisions for the Plan Bay Area 2050 Final Blueprint, which will be presented for approval to the Commission and ABAG Executive Board in early fall 2020.

Your input is key to the success of Plan Bay Area 2050. But challenges remain and we need to hear from you!

Public comment period begins July 10, 2020 and closes August 10, 2020.

Learn more about public outreach, including virtual public meetings here.

Keep In Touch

Regional Housing Update

RHNA is the state-mandated process to identify the number of housing units, by affordability level, that each jurisdiction must accommodate in the Housing Element of its General Plan (Government Code §65584). As part of this process, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) identifies the total housing need for the Bay Area for an eight-year period. As the Council of Governments (COG) for the Bay Area, ABAG is responsible for developing a methodology to allocate to each city and county a portion of the region’s total housing need received from HCD. The allocation must meet five statutory objectives (Government Code §65584(d)) and be consistent with the development pattern in Plan Bay Area 2050.

HCD Issues Regional Housing Need Determination
On June 9th, the State Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) issued the Bay Area a housing need of 441,176 units as part of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process for the years 2023 to 2031. The Regional Housing Needs Determination (RHND) is a finding made every eight years by HCD that identifies specific housing needs across California.

This number is approximately twice the determination that the Bay Area received in February of 2012 for the last RHNA cycle, and reflects changes to state law and growth over the past eight years.

The Bay Area has faced a well-documented chronic housing shortage spanning periods of both job growth and contraction. The upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has further illuminated the precarious state of housing security for many Bay Area residents. Too many of our fellow residents worry about homelessness or displacement because they cannot afford their rent or mortgage due to loss of employment or reduction in income.

High housing costs disproportionally impact young people and, of course, those with limited incomes including a preponderance of Black and Brown people. In this setting, ABAG and MTC’s leadership has issued a joint statement calling for racial, social, and economic justice and aiming to repair local governments’ historic role in denying opportunity. Providing housing for all income levels is a key part of implementing that vision.

The ABAG Executive Board discussed the RHND at its meeting on June 18th.

RHNA Public Process
As in past RHNA cycles, ABAG has convened a Housing Methodology Committee (HMC) to advise and make recommendations on the RHNA methodology for allocating the RHND. The HMC began meeting in September 2019 and includes local elected officials and staff as well as regional stakeholders to facilitate sharing of diverse viewpoints across multiple sectors.

Some of the key topics discussed by the HMC to date include understanding the State’s new equity framework and identifying the factors to be included in the methodology for allocating a share of housing needs to every local government in the Bay Area. Over the next several months, the HMC will continue to refine the methodology factors while also discussing potential approaches for determining the distribution of units by income for each jurisdiction and considering the options on incorporating data from the Plan Bay Area 2050 Blueprint into the RHNA methodology.

More information about the HMC and its activities is available here. The page includes the roster, member biographies, and materials from HMC meetings.

RHNA Schedule
Due to the many challenges faced by Bay Area’s cities, towns, and counties, ABAG sent a letter to HCD requesting clarifications on the statewide RHNA schedule. Below are the current statutory deadlines for the Bay Area’s RHNA process from late 2020 to early 2023, with the latter date reflecting the deadline for updates to jurisdictions’ Housing Elements. We will share HCD’s response when it is received.

Key milestones for completing the RHNA process include:

  • June 2020 — HCD Regional Housing Needs Determination
  • Fall 2020 — Proposed RHNA methodology
  • Winter 2021 — Draft RHNA methodology to HCD for review
  • Spring 2021 — Final RHNA methodology, release draft allocation
  • Summer 2021 — RHNA appeals
  • End of 2021 — Final RHNA allocation
  • January 2023 — Local Communities Housing Elements due to HCD

The schedule is subject to potential further modifications based on decisions made by the ABAG Executive Board or changing circumstances outside our control. A more detailed RHNA schedule is available on the ABAG website.

Assisting Local Governments with RHNA Compliance
Through ABAG, the Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) Grants Program will bring approximately $23.9M to assist local governments to prepare, adopt, and implement plans and processes that accelerate housing production and facilitate compliance in implementing the sixth cycle of RHNA. ABAG staff is currently developing a framework for the REAP Program, including a collaborative and cohort-based approach promoting knowledge sharing on policies, best practices, and site analysis. The REAP program intends to achieve economies of scale via a regional pool of consultants, which will bring increased flexibility and reduced administrative burden for local jurisdictions.

Please contact Heather Peters, ABAG Project Manager for REAP, at hpeters@bayareametro.gov with any questions.

Additionally, the Local Early Action Planning Grants (LEAP) can provide direct funding to local governments. The deadline to apply for LEAP funds is July 1, 2020. Unfortunately, HCD has confirmed that this deadline cannot be extended without legislative action because it is set in statute. The application requires a Board/Council resolution. Further details about LEAP and the application can be found here.

Expanded Regional Housing Portfolio
ABAG and MTC leadership has also been supporting efforts around AB 1487, or the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA). This has included robust leadership from the ABAG Board and MTC Commission, working closely together and with the bill’s author, Assemblymember Chiu to develop the legislation. The bill called for the creation of a Housing Finance Authority for the Bay Area with potential funding provided by a regional housing measure.

Economic concerns led the agencies to defer placing a housing measure on the ballot in November 2020. In order to continue to work towards meeting the region’s housing needs, an Expanded Regional Housing Portfolio is a reframed approach to the housing crisis and AB 1487. ABAG is creating a distinct Housing Committee to lead this effort alongside BAHFA.

Please contact rhna@bayareametro.gov with questions about the RHNA process or visit the RHNA website to sign up for the RHNA mailing list.


Thursday, July 16

  • Regional Planning Committee
    1:00 p.m.
  • Housing Committee
    4:15 p.m.
  • Finance Committee
    5:05 p.m.
  • Executive Board
    6:05 p.m.

Wednesday, July 22

  • Joint ABAG MTC Governance Committee
    12:30 p.m.

Wednesday, August 19

  • POWER Executive Committee
    11:00 a.m.

Thursday, August 20

  • Executive Board Meeting
    6:05 p.m.

During the Covid-19 virus shelter-in-place time period, ABAG meetings will be conducted via Zoom. Meeting information available at abag.ca.gov/meetings.