A New Approach to the Housing Element Update

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Paavo Monkkonen

Christopher Elmendorf

Moira O’Neill

Eric Biber

Local governments in California face new rules as they begin updating their local Housing Elements for the 2021-29/2022-30 planning period. In this brief, the authors propose a new way for cities to approach the sites inventory to meet their housing unit targets, moving beyond simply identifying vacant and underutilized parcels. This new approach has three components: rezoning in high opportunity neighborhoods, assessing development probabilities using data, and taking a proactive approach to building affordable housing. This approach will lead to more housing production in locations that achieve California’s social and environmental goals, and can potentially resolve complications created for local governments by recent legislation.