By Collin Breaux
After months and months of tweaking their housing guidelines to meet a required state certification, the California Department of Housing and Community Development has signed off on the City of San Juan Capistrano’s Housing Element for the 2021-2029 planning period.
San Juan Director of Development Services Joel Rojas said the city is “very pleased” about the certification. The city was informed about the certification on Sept. 23.
“This culminates a process that began two years ago when the City was assigned its Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG),” Rojas said in an email. “The City’s assigned RHNA (or housing need) for the eight-year period of 2021-2029 is 1,054 new units consisting of 270 units for very low-income households (<50% County Annual Median Income), 173 units for low-income households (51-80% County Annual Median Income), 183 units for moderate-income households (81-120% County Annual Median Income) and 428 units for above-moderate-income households (>120% County Annual Median Income).”
Updates for a city’s General Plan—which the Housing Element is a part of and serves as a local government’s principal guideline—are required every eight years for municipalities throughout California. The updated Housing Element includes rezoning that allows housing in some parts of San Juan, including the Industrial Park and Commercial Manufacturing zoning districts north of Avenida Aeropuerto between Camino Capistrano and San Juan Creek. While a city is required to accommodate housing, it does not have to actually build it.
“In December 2020, staff began working to prepare an updated draft Housing Element to demonstrate that the City can accommodate its RHNA allocation,” Rojas said.
After an “extensive” public outreach effort that involved an online survey, virtual workshops and input from city officials, the city adopted an updated Housing Element in February 2022 that was submitted to HCD and identified several ways to tackle housing needs, including construction of approved and proposed residential projects and removal of government constraints.
“The City now looks forward to working with the local community, housing developers and other stakeholders on implementing its approved Housing Element so that the housing needs of the City’s residents spanning all income levels can be met,” Rojas said.
Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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