South San Francisco, CA November 19, 2020 Submitted by Robert Riechel, Riechel Reports
Public Comment Period for RHNA Proposed Methodology Ends Nov. 27 at Noon
The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)’s Executive Board at its October meeting passed the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) proposed methodology. The proposed methodology is a mathematical formula by which the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)’s requirement that the Bay Area plan for more than 441,000 additional housing units during the 2023-2031 RHNA cycle is distributed among the region’s nine counties and 101 cities and towns.
With the Executive Board’s action, ABAG on Oct. 25 opened a public comment period on the proposed RHNA methodology. Around 30 local government staff and members of the public provided comments on the proposed methodology and the proposed subregion shares at a public hearing on Nov. 12. Additional comments are welcomed until Nov. 27 at noon at the Public Information Office via email to RHNA@bayareametro.gov or via USPS at 375 Beale St, Suite 800, San Francisco, CA 94105. Please include “Proposed RHNA Methodology and Subregional Shares” in the subject line.
New state laws — as well as the region’s strong economy and related job and household growth over the past decade — are a significant reason for the growth in HCD’s determination, which will require the Bay Area to plan for 253,000 more units than required in the 2015-2023 RHNA cycle. Under illustrative allocations from the proposed methodology, communities in Santa Clara County would be expected to account for about one-third of all new units to be incorporated into the housing elements of Bay Area jurisdictions’ general plans, and San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland are expected to have the highest expected planning numbers for individual cities.
ABAG President and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin commented, “Housing Element Law emphasizes that all Bay Area communities have to share the increased state planning numbers. The adopted proposed methodology is the best way to share the housing responsibility among all our region’s local governments, to encourage housing in areas with good access to jobs and in locations designated by the state as high-opportunity areas, and to meet fair housing and greenhouse gas reduction requirements.”
After the public comment period ends, the Regional Planning Committee and the Executive Board will again weigh in on the methodology. If approved, ABAG will submit the draft methodology to HCD for review, likely in January 2021, and then use the state agency’s recommendations to develop a final methodology and draft RHNA allocation in spring 2021. Release of the draft allocation would then kick off an appeals period in the summer of 2021, with the final RHNA allocation assigned to each of the Bay Area’s local governments in late 2021.
The allocation methodology is a formula for accommodating the Bay Area’s total housing need by quantifying the number of housing units — separated into above-moderate, moderate, low and very-low income categories — that will be assigned to each city, town and county. The allocation must meet statutory objectives and be consistent with the forecasted development pattern from Plan Bay Area 2050. The final result of the RHNA process is the allocation of housing units by income category to each jurisdiction. Each local government must then update the Housing Element of its General Plan and its zoning to show how it can accommodate its RHNA allocation.
The proposed RHNA methodology was developed by ABAG’s Housing Methodology Committee (HMC) after nearly a year of meetings and technical analysis. The HMC process provided a forum for local elected officials, staff from city and county governments, various stakeholder groups, and members of the general public to formulate a data-driven proposal. Members of the HMC were selected from a diverse pool of applicants and included representatives from each of the nine Bay Area counties.
President Arreguin praised the HMC for its challenging work: “The proposed methodology represents a big accomplishment not only for the HMC or for ABAG, but also for our region. The committee members’ involvement in this complicated and sometimes contentious process brought together very diverse voices to develop a methodology that works for the entire Bay Area.”
Additional information about the proposed methodology and the RHNA process is available on the RHNA webpage.
Housing Technical Assistance – Regional Early Action Planning Grants
ABAG, in partnership with HCD, hosted a webinar on Oct. 29 with 250 attendees. The webinar discussed state data requirements for local Housing Elements, solicited input on regional data tools and trained local planners to use a site selection tool — known as the Housing Element Site Section (HESS) tool — to analyze parcel-level data and pre-populate HCD’s new site inventory form.
Did you miss the webinar?
Jurisdiction staff and interested parties will shortly receive a link to create a HESS Tool account, requests will be verified prior to access. If a jurisdiction would like to grant HESS Tool access to a Housing Element contracted consultant, Planning Directors or Community Development Directors can email housingTA@bayareametro.gov with the name and email address of the consultant.
We are hoping for feedback on the HESS tool either by email or via the tool’s feedback form. In particular, we are asking local planning staff to ground-truth the initial screening criteria at the local level. Eventually the tool will include a module to edit the Bay Area Spatial Information System (BASIS) data. The tool pulls from the BASIS data and depends on the accuracy of its underlying land use data.
A future “deep dive” webinar session for the HESS Tool during the beta testing period is planned. For more information, subscribe to the Housing Technical Assistance mailing list.
Work on Plan Bay Area Continues – Region’s Long-Range Land Use and Transportation Plan
Final Blueprint Strategies Approved by Executive Board
The ABAG Executive Board on Sept. 17 approved the Plan Bay Area 2050 Final Blueprint’s Strategies and Growth Geographies, as well as the Regional Growth Forecast. These key inputs, defined by 35 equitable and resilient strategies for the region’s future, will now be analyzed to identify improved regional outcomes compared to the Draft Blueprint, released in July 2020. Building on the foundation of the Horizon Initiative, the Plan Bay Area 2050 Blueprint (“the Blueprint”) integrates bold and equitable strategies across four elements — transportation, housing, the economy and the environment — to create a more resilient and equitable future for the Bay Area. The Blueprint is being developed in two phases, the Draft and the Final.
The strategies in the Draft Blueprint were revised based on robust engagement with the public and stakeholders. In September 2020, the ABAG Executive Board and the MTC approved the Final Blueprint, which includes a set of 35 revised and expanded strategies, as well as the Growth Geographies and the Regional Growth Forecast.
Over the fall, staff are analyzing the revised strategies included in the Final Blueprint to determine how much progress can be made toward the Plan Bay Area 2050 Vision. The Final Blueprint phase will end with the release of the findings from this latest round of analysis, and staff will seek adoption by the Commission and ABAG Executive Board of the Final Blueprint as the Preferred Alternative for environmental analysis purposes before the end of 2020. Meanwhile, the focus will shift to the development of the near-term Implementation Plan.
Plan Bay Area Moves Into Implementation Plan Development
Starting now and continuing through winter 2021,ABAG and Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) are developing a short-term Implementation Plan to guide how the Bay Area can work to take near-term action to implement the strategies adopted in Plan Bay Area 2050 over the next five years. The Implementation Plan will outline tangible actions across the four core elements of Plan Bay Area 2050 — economy, environment, housing and transportation — that MTC, ABAG and their partners could advance to make the Bay Area more equitable and resilient in the future.
The Implementation Plan process will focus on collaboration and engagement with Bay Area residents, local governments, civic organizations, non-profits, and other stakeholders to identify actions and tackle shared challenges facing the region through 2025 and beyond.
The Implementation Plan for Plan Bay Area 2050, which is an expanded version of the Action Plan pioneered in Plan Bay Area 2040, will not rest on ABAG’s and MTC’s shoulders alone, as many of the steps that will need to be taken will be outside the realm of the two agencies’ responsibilities. The Implementation Plan will require a shared commitment and strong collaboration among regional policymakers, local governments, partner agencies and civic organizations.
More information is available at the Plan Bay Area website.
New Energy Evaluation Tool Available to Assist With Local Climate Action Planning
ABAG’s BayREN program is pleased to announce the launch of the Bay Area Energy Atlas! The tool, developed by the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA, in partnership with BayREN, is a large database of PG&E account-level electricity and natural gas consumption linked spatially to building characteristics and sociodemographic data. The Energy Atlas was developed to assist local governments with climate action planning and to delve into how energy is being used in their jurisdictions.
The tool can help answer questions such as:
- What types of buildings have the highest energy intensity per square foot?
- How does energy consumption vary spatially, by population density, by income level, or by industry?
- How does energy consumption compare between Single Family homes in different parts of the region?
The Bay Area Energy Atlas will also be a great tool to help guide local policy on reducing energy consumption and will allow any interested community members to interact with the data.
The tool was launched on Oct. 28 via a webinar, which was attended by around 90 local government representatives. The debut covered an overview of the tool and the potential for application in a local government setting. The webinar and more information about the Bay Area Energy Atlas is available on the BayREN website.
BayREN Regional Forum — Linking Energy, Equity, and Public Health
Thursday, Nov. 19, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
This half-day BayREN Regional Forum will explore the connections between climate change, energy efficiency, equity, and public health. Attendees will also hear about local examples of how health professionals, nonprofits, and local government staff are working together on these issues. This forum will include the opportunity for networking through breakout sessions and is free and open to all.
For more information and to register visit: BayREN Regional Forum.
“Gateway to the East Bay” Shoreline Park Opens
A sparkling, new shoreline public park near the Bay Bridge in Oakland was dedicated in October. The project was brought to fruition with help from the San Francisco Bay Trail and the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA).
The Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline adjacent to the eastern touchdown of the Bay Bridge includes a massive 600-foot long by 40-foot wide public observation deck, built atop six remaining support piers from the original Bay Bridge East Span.
ABAG’s Bay Trail Project worked on the project. Running the length of the park is a bicycle and pedestrian path that connects to the Bay Bridge Trail, linking the park with Yerba Buena Island. BATA contributed millions of dollars for development of the park, and was instrumental in the decision to retain the old bridge piers.
In addition to the observation deck, a 24,000-square foot 1930s-era electric train maintenance building known as the Bridge Yard has been renovated to host large concerts, community events, and public concessions. Bike parking is available adjacent to the observation pier, which is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Other visitor amenities include bathrooms, walking paths and interpretive panels. The park is expected to be a popular tourist destination with its sweeping views of the bay and easy access to the Bay Bridge Trail. It’s been dubbed the “Gateway to the East Bay” due to its visibility to eastbound Bay Bridge drivers.
The park was named for Sutter, a civic and environmental leader, and former East Bay Park District Board member who saw the potential for a future waterfront park in the 1960s while the area was still active as the Oakland Army Base. Sutter first proposed the park in a 1967 letter to ABAG.
The park’s opening is the culmination of decades of regional collaboration and the Park District’s long-time efforts to reclaim shoreline for public use and habitat preservation. A nine-member multiagency working group facilitated the park. In addition to ABAG’s Bay Trail Project, BATA, Caltrans and the East Bay Regional Parks District, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, California Transportation Commission, City of Oakland, Port of Oakland and the East Bay Municipal Utility District all contributed to the project.
Technical Assistance Webpage
ABAG established a one-stop shop on its website to provide local governments an easy way to access the various Technical Assistance programs that ABAG and its partners offer.
This new page brings together some 18 programs offered by ABAG, MTC, the Bay Area Regional Collaborative, and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. The programs are organized across several categories: data, energy programs, land use, resiliency, transportation and workshops. The two types of Technical Assistance offered are Direct Assistance programs, which provide a focused intervention that provides specific services to a local government, and Capacity Building programs, which enhance a local government’s technical expertise and strengthens institutional knowledge.
By compiling programs such as the Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN) and the Housing Technical Assistance Program into a single location, local governments can more quickly and easily access resources they need, as well as learn about other programs that may be useful to them. This page will be updated as new programs become available.
Meetings and Events
All meetings and events are remote during the COVID-19 virus shelter-in-place period. Additional information about these meetings and how the public can participate is available on the website.
Thursday, Nov. 19
- 3:00 p.m.
San Francisco Bay Trail Steering Committee
- 5:30 p.m.
- 6:00 p.m.
ACFA Governing Board
- 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 8, 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 10, 1:00 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 11, 9:45 a.m.
Thursday, Dec. 17, 5:05 p.m.
More information is available on the Meetings webpage