Santa Paula: Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA)

By Sheryl Hamlin

Within the last few weeks, the subject of housing and in particular the RHNA has appeared in multiple Santa Paula city discussions.

1. Read Director Mason’s statement on the RHNA status here which was given at the September 2019 Planning Commission meeting.

2. The Ventura County Behavioral Health (VCBH) presented housing theories for homeless as well as updated counts of homeless in Santa Paula at the October 2, 2019 council meeting.

3. During the discussion of the Emergency Shelter Zoning Ordinance change at the October 2, 2019, the RHNA was mentioned. As the responsible staff contact for the RHNA, Planning Manager Mitchem supplied information on the RHNA to the council.

Housing Costs

In September 2019, Director Mason told the Planning Commission (above link), even the low-income developers cannot supply the necessary levels of housing to the lowest ends.

From the proposed 2013-2021 Santa Paula Housing Element the following table shows the affordability levels by income categories.

Source: Santa Paula Proposed Housing Element


At the October 2, 2019, Susan Wood White from the VCBH (Ventura County Behavioral Health) presented updated counts of homeless for Santa Paula. For 2019, she reported 106 for Santa Paula which was an increase over the previous year because the counters worked extra days.

Why are these counts important? The RHNA plan includes requirements for people in this economic category.

RHNA: An Overview

RHNA incorporates the General Plan Housing Element into Housing Cycles of 8 year periods during which each managed city is given housing goals. Image below is taken from a SCAG (Southern Califoria Association of Goverments) FACT Sheet.

Source: SCAG

Note that the Planning Cycles are designed to be economic cycle neutral to smooth out the peaks and valleys in economic cycles. Both China (since 1949) and the USSR (previously) use/used five year planned economic cycles to direct the economy.

Santa Paula Housing Goals

As Planning Manager Mitchen said, the RHNA goals are aggressive and in fact SCAG has written a letter objecting to the goals for the Southern California Region. Note that using two different population forecasts, the totals range from 823,808 units to 920,772 units.

RHNA Categories

RHNA breaks down the housing needs into income categories. The current breakdown is:

Very-Low * 25.8%, Low 15.1%,Moderate 17.1%, and Above-Moderate 42.1%

The Extremely-Low 14.6% is included in Very-Low Category.

Santa Paula Breakdown

The following was taken from a RHNA worksheet (RHNA-Methodology-Worksheet_2019-10-02_Santa Paula) supplied by Manager Mitchem.

Source: RHNA worksheet

Refering above to the Housing Affordability chart in the proposed Housing Element, it would seem that there is a disconnect between the counts for the very low end including homeless and the proposed breakdown given above. The other question would be if the 49 units in the new Harvard shelter are included in the performance toward the RHNA goal.

Housing Element Update

According to the proposed General Plan 2040, the Housing Element will be updated as follows:

The Housing Element, which must be updated every 8 years on a State-mandated schedule, was last updated in 2013 and was not amended as part of the 2040 General Plan update. The next Housing Element update is scheduled for 2021.

The City remits updates to the State showing what was constructed. The report for 2018 supplied by Planning Manager Micthem shows only 11 units in all categories complete in 2018. 2019 should be able to include East Area 1, Williams Homes and Sparkuhl plus the shelter Harvard (to clarify).

State Repercussions

Recall that Governor Newsom indicated that he would withhold SB1 funds from cities who do not meet the housing goals by 2023. According to Planning Manager Mitchem, there has been no official word yet.

Needless to say, cities cannot ignore the RHNA. Santa Paula Council should have a Study Session in the near future on the RHNA and the Housing Element.


For more information about author: sherylhamlin dot com

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One Response to Santa Paula: Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA)

  1. Sheryl Hamlin October 7, 2019 at 8:25 am

    Update from Planning Manager: shelters are considered group quarters, not housing units, unless they are “supportive housing” with individual units with kitchen and bathroom


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