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Several OC Cities Ask to Lower Housing Goals

By | arobinson@scng.com | The Orange County Register
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

As local governments finalize housing goals for the next eight years, four Orange County cities are trying to not only reduce the state-mandated number of new homes they must plan for, they’re proposing Santa Ana shoulder more of the county’s burden by taking a bigger number.

It’s part of the every-eight-years process of the state projecting how many new homes will be needed in the near term and giving each region a share. Cities get their own targets and are required to show they’ve planned for set numbers of homes at different income levels – it still is up to developers and the markets to drive if those homes are built.

More than half of O.C. cities are asking to have their number reduced. Local officials complain the state’s estimates are unrealistic and that allowing so much new development will wreak havoc on their communities. In this round, the stakes are higher, with state legislators threatening to strip local control from cities that don’t meet their goals.

In their appeals, which will be heard over three days starting Jan. 15 by a subcommittee of the Southern California Association of Governments, city officials are saying their goals are unachievable for a variety of reasons: they have little developable land available, what exists is limited by constraints such as fire and earthquake danger zones, they don’t have the appropriate amount of transit or jobs for that many new residents, the pandemic’s impact on jobs and the economy makes the calculations (which were done in 2019) obsolete, and the state’s numbers were inflated to begin with, so cities’ allocations are also wrong.

Some cities are fighting allocations that look enormous compared with their previous goals. Laguna Beach was required to plan for just two additional homes in the last state housing cycle, which started in fall 2013 and ends this October. For the next round, it’s been given nearly 400 units to find space for, and the city is seeking to trim the total by 278 units.

Others say they’ve already done more than many of their neighbors, and that should be taken into account. The more than 22,800 units proposed for Irvine in the new cycle is “one of the largest allocations in Southern California,” Councilman Mike Carroll said.

Click here for a city-by-city list of appeal requests

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