SCAG objects to state’s methodology that says 1.34M housing units needed by 2029

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The Southern California Association of Governments is looking to reach a more reasonable determination of regional housing needs by objecting to the state’s assertion that said 1.34 million units are needed by 2029 across six counties, which includes the city of Santa Clarita. 

Instead, SCAG’s own methodology would result in a total number of housing units ranging from 61% to 69% of the state’s number.

SCAG’s Community Economic and Human Development Committee and Regional Council voted Thursday in Los Angeles to oppose the methodology the California Department of Housing and Community Development, or HCD, used to determine that a six-county region of Southern California must plan for 1,344,740 housing units for its next planning cycle (October 2021-October 2029). 

“HCD did not use the appropriate population forecasts for their determination of the SCAG region’s housing needs and did not conduct a reasonable application of the methodology and assumptions pursuant to statute,” despite SCAG staff providing substantial data and technical assistance, according to the SCAG agenda report. 

“SCAG’s alternative proposed determination provides a more reasonable, current, balanced and technically robust application of HCD’s stated approach toward determining housing needs,” the report added. 

The committee and regional council learned that depending on the manner and extent of improvements made to the regional determination, SCAG’s alternative proposed figure, known as the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, or RHNA, would range between 821,000 and 924,000 housing units, according to a presentation by Kevin Kane, a regional planner with SCAG. 

Among seven key issues with HCD’s determination, SCAG said there were two major concerns: 

  • HCD did not use SCAG’s population forecast: SCAG projects total regional population to grow to 20.72 million by October 2029, while the HCD’s determination was 20.45 million.
  • Use of comparable regions: HCD compared household overcrowding and cost-burden rates in the SCAG region to national averages rather than to rates in comparable regions as statutorily required.

Some spoke in support of HCD’s determination and urged the committee and council members not to object, saying the region is in dire need of more housing, particularly affordable housing. At least one speaker suggested the 1.34 million figure should rise to 2.7 million. 

Others favored the objection, including Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean, who said, “We (the city of Santa Clarita) are more than willing to zone for affordable housing and more than willing to have them built here, but if we can’t get developers to come, no city should be penalized for that.” 

SCAG staff and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger reiterated that Thursday’s vote was not to challenge the 1.34 million figure but the methodology HCD used. 

Barger, who represents the 5th District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley, said each jurisdiction is different and deserves flexibility when it comes to determining how many housing units are needed. 

“It’s important to respect every city and the impact that it’s going to be. We need to be very smart in how we roll this out,” she added. 

SCAG has just less than 30 days to file an objection, in which case HCD would then be required to make a final written RHNA determination within 45 days after receiving an objection, according to the report.

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