State law requires each city to adopt a general plan containing at least seven mandatory elements one of which is the Housing Element. The Housing Element is required to be updated every five to six years and is subject to detailed statutory requirements and mandatory review by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). This has been a requirement since 1969 and was instituted as a statewide requirement to ensure the State’s housing goals are met.

The Housing Element Update process begins with HCD allocating a region’s share of the statewide housing need which is then translated into a Regional Housing Need Plan (RHNP). The RHNP allocates the region’s share of housing within the cities and counties within the region. The allocations to be met are divided into mandatory household income levels. Below is the Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) for Sonora for the upcoming planning period.

Projected Needs (RHNA)

JurisdictionVery LowLowModerateAbove-ModerateTotal
Sonora23161942100
% of Total23%16%19%42.3%100%18%
Tuolumne Co.1027481193450
% of Total22.7%16.4%18%42.9%100%82%
Area Total12590100235550

In general, a Housing Element must at least include the following components:

  • A Housing Needs Assessment: determination of the existing and projected City housing needs.
  • A Sites Inventory and Analysis: site specific inventory of properties, zoning and general plan designations, parcel size and existing use, along with a general environmental analysis of constraints and availability of infrastructure, and the realistic development capacity of sites to accommodate the City’s share of the RHNA by inc
  • Analysis of Constraints on Housing: an analysis of land use controls, fees and exactions, on and off-site improvement requirements, building codes and permits processing procedures, and potential constraints on the development or improvement of housing for persons with disabilities.
  • Housing Programs: Programs must include a schedule of specific actions, timeline for implementation and identification of agencies and officials responsible for implementation. State Law mandates that the following six program areas must be included within the Housing Element:
    1. Program(s) to provide adequate sites.
    2. Program(s) to assist in the development of housing for extremely low, very low, low and moderate income households.
    3. Program(s) to address governmental constraints.
    4. Program(s) to conserve and improve the condition of the existing affordable housing stock.
    5. Program(s) to promote housing opportunities for all persons.
    6. Program(s) to preserve “at-risk” units. “At-risk” units are those located within a low-income multi-family dwelling whose rents are threatened to be increased to market rate thus making them unaffordable to low-income tenants.
  • Quantified Objectives: an estimate of the maximum number of units, by income level to be constructed, rehabilitated and conserved over the planning period

In preparation of the Housing Element, critical stakeholders must be engaged in the process. These include tenants and homeowners, special needs populations, businesses, those involved in real estate, housing providers and developers thus insuring participation of all economic segments of the community.

City of Sonora
Community Development Department
94 Washington Street
Sonora, CA, 95370
Phone: (209) 532-3508
Fax: (209) 532-3511
planning@sonoraca.com

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