What is a Housing Element?

A Housing Element is a State-mandated policy document within a City’s General Plan that identifies existing and future housing needs determined by the State and establishes clear goals and zoning changes needed to meet those goals. The State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is tasked with reviewing Housing Elements for compliance with State housing laws.

What is a Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA)? What is Yorba Linda’s allocated number?

RHNA is a State-mandated process quantifying the need for housing in each city and county throughout the State. The RHNA process assigns a total number of housing units that each local government must plan for with its land use policies and outlines the general price points that the housing should seek to target. The RHNA Housing Allocation for Yorba Linda is 2,415 units for the 6th Cycle (2021-29), meaning the City must devise a plan and related zoning to allow for the potential development of 2,415 housing units in the City that could potentially be built by 2029.

What is the City’s role in making sure Yorba Linda fulfills its RHNA number?

Importantly, the City does not build housing. The market and market influences, such as certain subsidies, the macroeconomy, interest rates and more determine what housing gets built. The City’s role is to create zoning that would theoretically allow that number of housing units to be built over the RHNA period; in this case, 2021 to 2029.

What is the Measure B/Right-to-Vote Amendment (RTVA) and why does it matter during a Housing Element update?

Enacted in 2006, Measure B, or the Right-To-Vote Amendment (RTVA), is a citizen-sponsored, voter-approved initiative that’s incorporated within the City’s Municipal Code. It requires citywide elections for the approval of certain “Major Amendments” to the City’s Planning Policy Documents, including the Housing Element. This measure highlights the value of community participation and it is an important step in adopting a compliant Housing Element.

Can the City or voters reject State-mandates and just not have a Housing Element?

No, the City must develop a compliant Housing Element and related zoning or it will face the loss of local land use control, risk protections for open space, become vulnerable to lawsuits from other entities and open the gates to ‘Builder’s Remedy’ applications that completely bypass many local land use rules. To date, every city that has attempted to fight these State-mandates in court has lost, including Huntington Beach and La Cañada Flintridge. Builder’s Remedy promises the loss of City authority to review and limit developments, as already demonstrated in the cities of Orange, La Habra, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Cupertino and more.

What is the certification status of Yorba Linda’s 2021-2029 Housing Element?

The City’s new, resident-driven Housing Element outlines the zoning changes that align with these State-mandated goals while maintaining local control. The Housing Element is conditionally certified by the State, but requires a ballot vote by Yorba Linda residents in November for full certification.


The sites below in green are the locations where zoning changes have been identified in the revised Housing Element to meet our State-mandated housing quota. They comprise less than 2% of all the land in Yorba Linda.

Housing Element-Related Articles

Step-by-Step: Approving the 2021-2029 Housing Element