The County has completed an update to its Housing Element for the 2016-2024 planning period. The purpose of the housing element is to identify and analyze existing and projected housing needs in order to preserve, improve, and develop housing for all economic segments of the community. The Housing Element consists of two parts: the Background Report and the Policy Document. The Background Report identifies the nature and extent of housing needs in the county, which in turn provides the basis for the County’s response to those needs in the Policy Document.
The housing element is one of seven required elements of the general plan. However, it has several unique requirements that set it apart from the other six elements. State law (Government Code Section 65580 (et seq.)) specifies in detail the topics that the housing element must address and sets a schedule for regular updates. State law requires each local government to update its housing element every eight years. The housing element is also the only element reviewed and certified by the State for compliance with State law. The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is the State department responsible for this certification.
Fair Share in California
Each jurisdiction in California is required to plan for its fair share of the region’s housing need. This fair share is determined through a process called the Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA). HCD identifies the total housing need for each region of the State. Regional Councils of Government, in this case the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG), are responsible for distributing this need to local governments in the region. Once a local government has received its RHNA, it must revise its housing element to show how it plans to accommodate its portion of the region’s housing need. The MCAG Board adopted the 2014-2023 Regional Housing Needs Plan on June 18, 2015.