Image via the cover of Next 10's report, “Missing the Mark: Examining the Shortcomings of California’s Housing Goals."

published on February 28, 2019 - 2:07 PM
Written by David Castellon

Like much of the rest of California, Valley counties are well behind in meeting their set goals to build new housing.

Among Central Valley counties, Tulare County scored the best, earning a “C+” grade in a study commissioned by Next 10, an independent, nonpartisan organization that educates and engages Californians with a goal of improving the state’s future.

Fresno, Inyo and Kern counties each received “C” grades, while Kings County received a “D+.”

Madera County also scored a “C.” The only North Valley counties to score a “B” were Alpine and Mono counties, with the rest scoring a “C” and a “D+” for Merced County.

The report, “Missing the Mark: Examining the Shortcomings of California’s Housing Goals,” looks at how various jurisdictions have done toward meeting their goals to build new housing, based on their Regional Housing Needs Assessments, which are updated every five to eight years.

Unfortunately, the Valley counties’ grades seem to be in line with much of the rest of the state, with a report summary stating, “The study finds most regions are chronically behind on permitting new housing units.

“This data shows that state-wide, less than 10 percent of the RHNA-allocated low- and very-low income units have been permitted, compared to nearly half of the higher-income housing,” said the summary, citing F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10.

“This disturbing trend reveals how little is being done to alleviate the affordability crisis in California, contributing to rising homelessness and displacement across the state.”

The report is short on details about housing trends in the Central Valley, except to say, “The South-Central Valley region, home to some of the poorest regions in California, earned a grade of “C-.” Coalinga [Fresno County], which received the highest grade, is just about on track across all income levels. This means should Coalinga fail to continue to permit new housing, it could fall very far behind the curve.”

It goes on to say that Sanger “has failed to issue a single [home construction] permit at all. At the county level, Kings County was the clear weakest link.”

But Sanger’s City Planner, David Brletic, challenged the study’s conclusion about his city, noting that since the housing element to Sanger’s General Plan was updated in 2016, the city permitted 199 single-family homes that year and in 2017, along with 51 multi-family homes in 2017.

Permit numbers have been counted only for the first half of 2018, but in that time the city issued 50 single-family home permits and 10 multi-family home permits.

Numbers on how many of those homes were built for moderate- and lower-income residents weren’t immediately available.

While he challenged the reports numbers, Brletic acknowledged Sanger has a lot of ground to cover gaining affordable housing.

The City of Sanger’s RHNA for its latest Housing Element Update calls for 956 new affordable units, along with an obligation for 503 more carried over from the previous update, meaning that the city’s current goal is for 1,459 moderate- to low-income units to be built there through 2023.

Not that the city is in the business of building housing, but work is underway to promote construction of affordable developments, Brletic said.

Part of the problem in Sanger is a lack of space zoned for new multi-family housing, and city officials are looking to fix that by rezoning a combined 63 acres.

“The realistic build out in the [rezoned areas] is 23.2 units per acre. Therefore, to accommodate the 1,459 units allocated by the State of California, the city of Sanger needs to rezone approximately 62.8 acres,” states a report on the matter for today’s Sanger Planning Commission meeting.

As for the report commissioned by Next 10, statewide it found:

– Only 25.9 percent of the allocated units statewide have been permitted across all income levels, even though the current RHNA cycle is more than half over. 

– The percentage completed is progressively worse the lower the income level for housing units, noting that 45.6 percent of above moderate-income units have been permitted, whereas only 19 percent of moderate-income units, 9.8 percent of low-income units and 7.3 percent of very low-income units have been permitted.

– At the current pace of very-low income housing permitting, San Francisco and Oakland will meet their very low-income goals by about 2030, Los Angeles and Long Beach won’t meet their goals until closer to 2040, Palo Alto won’t hit its goal until 2063 and Santa Clara will not hit its target until beyond 2500.

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