Southern California cities have more time to rezone land for housing – Daily News

Southern California cities and counties just got a three-year reprieve from the state’s deadline to rezone land for future housing.

Under a 2021 law, 191 of Southern California’s 197 jurisdictions faced an Oct. 15 deadline to rezone land for housing because they failed to pass a new housing plan by early February. .

The 2021 law aimed to improve compliance with a five-decade-old process for meeting future housing construction goals called the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, or RHNA.

Under a process every eight years, local governments must update the “housing element” of their corporate plans to meet future housing goals as determined by the state. They must then rezone enough land to meet those housing goals.

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Related: Cities that missed California’s housing deadline seek rezoning extension

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Jurisdictions in the Southern California Association of Government’s six-county region were required to have their new housing elements approved by the state by Feb. 11. The region includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura and Imperial counties.

But only five cities and one county in the region — Duarte, San Gabriel, Victorville, Westlake Village, Wildomar and Ventura County — met the Feb. 11 deadline to adopt a state-certified “housing feature.”

Those who failed to do so had to complete the necessary rezoning by October 15, or face a host of potential penalties, including lawsuits, stiff fines, cuts in housing subsidies and loss of local control over planning decisions.

Many cities — including the City of Los Angeles — said it would be impossible for them to complete the time-consuming rezoning process on such a massive scale, because the process includes public hearings and environmental reviews in under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.

Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, author of the 2021 law agreed that the rezoning deadline should be extended for SCAG jurisdictions.

A compromise was included in a trailer bill approved by state lawmakers on June 29 and signed into law the next day by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Under the new provisions, SCAG jurisdictions now have until February 2025 to complete the rezoning. However, they must still have a state-approved update to their housing elements by October 15 to qualify for the extension.

An additional one-year extension to complete the rezoning is possible under certain conditions, such as conditions beyond the control of a local jurisdiction.

The three-year rezoning extensions also apply to local jurisdictions in the San Diego and Sacramento areas.

Kome Ajise, executive director of SCAG, called the expansion “much needed relief for Southern California cities and counties,” saying it would have been impossible for many jurisdictions to rezone all the necessary land by October 15.

“All but a handful of our jurisdictions would have lost access to many publicly funded housing programs and would have experienced serious setbacks in our progress to meet housing needs” without the extension, he said. he declares.

But one housing advocate complained the extension gives cities and counties too much time.

“(The extension) gives cities that have sat down three more years to twiddle their thumbs,” said Elizabeth Hansburg, co-founder of YIMBY Action affiliate People for Housing Orange County. “It’s too long. The urgency is lost, and many elected officials…will be too comfortable doing nothing for the foreseeable future.

Bernard P. Love