Every eight years, the state requires local communities to update their Housing Element to assure the supply of adequate housing to meet community needs. The existing Housing Element cycle is coming to a close and a new 2023 Housing Element is currently being drafted for the 2023 - 2031 planning period.
The Housing Element is one of seven required elements of the General Plan, which guides land use planning and development activities in the unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County. State law mandates that it include a statement of the community’s goals, objectives, policies, and programs to maintain, improve, and develop housing as well as an assessment of housing needs.
The document must show that an adequate number of sites are available to accommodate housing development for all income levels, focusing on the needs of low- and moderate-income households. Additionally, the element must address conservation and improvement of the existing affordable housing stock and promote housing opportunities for all. Right now, Santa Cruz County is experiencing a housing crisis of both supply and affordability, and the State’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) for the eight-year planning period requires that we plan for 4,634 additional housing units in the unincorporated county.
The Housing Element update also requires review of potential environmental impacts and a robust public participation process to ensure well-rounded and equitable community involvement.