2023-2031 Housing Element

2023-2031 Housing Element 

The Housing Element is Moraga’s plan to meet future housing needs in the town over the next eight years (2023-2031). It includes an assessment of existing housing, as well as the projected housing needs within the community, an analysis of adequate housing sites, and an analysis of potential constraints on housing development. It also establishes the community’s vision for local policies and programs to direct the way housing develops, consistent with State law.  All cities, towns, and counties in the Bay Area were required to update their Housing Elements by January 31, 2023.  Moraga met this deadline and has been found in compliance.

The certified, final Housing Element may be viewed here:

The Town’s compliance letter from HCD may be viewed here:

A timeline of this process, including links to the earlier editions and tracked change versions of the Housing Element, is provided below.  At the bottom of this page, you will find additional information on the Housing Element process, including information about the Regional Housing Needs Allocation and other State mandates.

Adopted Housing Element Timeline

The Town of Moraga adopted the 6th cycle Housing Element on January 25, 2023 and submitted to the State Department of Housing and Community Development on January 26, 2023.  On March 27, HCD notified the Town that additional revisions would be required before a determination of compliance could be made.  HCD’s March 27 letter may be reviewed at the link below:

The Town resubmitted the document with the requested revisions on May 9, 2023.  On June 14, 2023, HCD notified the Town that further revisions were required.  These revisions were provided to HCD on June 20, 2023.  On June 29, 2023, HCD verbally informed the Town of its intent to issue a compliance letter for the Housing Element, inclusive of the revisions and acceptance of a report by Town Council acknowledging the changes. The revisions were technical in nature and did not change the substance of the adopted document.  The Council accepted the report on the changes on July 12, 2023 and the document was resubmitted to HCD on July 17, 2023.

Changes made to the January 25, 2023 document to produce the July 10, 2023 Draft are highlighted in the document below:


Housing Element, as Initially Adopted (January 25, 2023)

The links below provide access to the documents adopted by Town Council on January 25, 2023.  The tracked change versions show edits in response to HCD’s comments on a “Working Draft” that had been previously submitted on August 12, 2022. 

Public Comments on Initially Adopted Document

A number of written comments were received immediately prior to adoption of the Housing Element on January 25, 2023.  These comments, as well as staff’s responses, are provided at the links below.  Also included below is a letter from the Moraga Town Attorney to the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) confirming the Town’s compliance with SB 330.  This is in response to comments from HCD on the 6th Cycle Working Draft. 

6th Cycle Housing Element Working Draft 

State law requires local governments to submit Working Drafts of the Housing Element to HCD before they are adopted.  The “pre-adoption” review enables the State to advise the community on the changes that will be necessary for a compliance determination.  It also provides the public with an additional opportunity for comment.  Local governments are expected to revise their documents based on the State’s feedback and public comment, adopt them inclusive of the changes, and resubmit them for a formal compliance determination. 

The Town of Moraga published its Working Draft on June 30, 2022. As required by State law, it was circulated for a period of 30 days, ending on July 30, 2022. There were three public meetings convened during the review period, each providing an opportunity for public comment. The Town provided 10 business days at the conclusion of the 30-day review period to consider the comments received. It then revised the document, incorporating comments made by the Moraga Planning Commission, the Moraga Town Council, and the general public during the review period.  A ”tracked change” and “clean” version were produced, with the tracked version showing the changes made to the June 30 Draft.

This document was submitted to the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on August 12, 2022 and can be accessed below:. 

August 12, 2022 Draft Moraga Housing Element 6th Cycle Clean (PDF)

August 12, 2022 Draft Moraga Housing Element 6th Cycle Track Changes (PDF)

August 12, 2022 Draft Moraga Housing Element 6th Cycle Appendices (PDF)

On November 10, 2022, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) provided a comment letter on the Working Draft. The comment letter can be found below.

November 10, 2022, HCD Housing Element Comment Letter (PDF)

More About Housing Element Requirements 

Local governments in California have been required to prepare Housing Elements since 1969.  However, Housing Element requirements have substantially expanded over the years, particularly in the last decade.  The Housing Element is the only part of the General Plan that must be formally submitted to a State agency for review and approval.  In this instance, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) must make a finding that the document is in “substantial compliance” with State law.  A compliance finding is a pre-requisite for many State grants and other funding sources.  Failure to have a compliant housing element can leave a jurisdiction legally vulnerable, subject to fines and penalties, and at risk of losing control over local land use decisions.

Housing Elements are also updated on a schedule set by the State of California.  The schedule establishes an eight-year planning horizon, with the eight-year period staggered by region around California.  In the Bay Area, the current cycle runs from January 31, 2023 to January 31, 2031.  In Southern California, the current cycle runs from 2021 to 2029.  This is commonly referred to as the “6th cycle,” since there were five previous time intervals during which Housing Elements were required for State review. 

One of the driving factors behind the Housing Element is the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).  Each region of the state is assigned a targeted total number of housing units to plan for over the eight- year period.  This target is broken down by income category (very low, low, moderate, and above moderate).  The total for each region is allocated to each jurisdiction based on factors such as population, employment, and proximity to transit.  A community may perceive that it is “built out” but this does not relieve it of the requirement to plan for the assignment it is given through this process.  Each community must show that it has a sufficient supply of developable sites to meet the RHNA, with zoning that facilitates a range of housing types serving different income groups.

Moraga adopted its Housing Element for the 5th Cycle in January 2015.  Its RHNA for the 2015-2023 period was just 229 units.  Due to rapid employment growth and slow housing production during the 2010s, the methodology for calculating the region’s housing need was changed for the 6th cycle.  The eight-year need calculated for the Bay Area increased from 187,990 (2015-2023) to 441,176 housing units (2023-2031).  Moreover, the method by which this total need was allocated across the region was changed.  This resulted in Moraga’s allocation increasing to 1,118 units—almost five times what it was previously.  

Many neighboring jurisdictions saw similar increases.  Although an appeals process was provided for the RHNA, the criteria for granting an appeal were narrow and 27 out of 28 requests were denied.  The higher RHNA has required many jurisdictions—including Moraga—to amend zoning requirements and zoning maps to accommodate the assignment.  This work was completed in 2022 and early 2023.

Other changes to State law also have reshaped the Housing Element contents and update process.  These include a requirement to “affirmatively further fair housing” (AFFH) by creating more opportunities for lower income people to live in higher-resource areas, including single family neighborhoods and higher income communities.  The AFFH requirement also means engaging residents who have not traditionally participated in planning processes, including lower-income households, renters, non-English speaking residents, and persons with disabilities.  New State requirements also affect what constitutes a “housing opportunity site” and what provisions the community must make for allowing projects “by right” (without numerous hearings by Commissions and elected bodies). 

Moraga has incorporated all of these requirements in its 6th Cycle Housing Element, allowing the Town to receive a compliance determination.  At the time of Moraga’s compliance determination, only five of the 19 jurisdictions in Contra Costa County had likewise been deemed compliant.