TCAGRegional Housing Element
The Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) is coordinating the development of a Regional Housing Element for the cities of Tulare, Exeter, Lindsay, Farmersville, Woodlake, Porterville, and Dinuba. As the process moves forward, this website will be the primary source for access to all materials related to the TCAG Regional Housing Element. The website will host project documents, community workshop information, reports, resources, and provide the community with ways to provide feedback on the project.
Residents and other community stakeholders were invited to attend workshops held May 22 through June 1, 2023. One workshop was held for each city involved in the Housing Element. Some of these workshops were held in-person while some were held virtually via Zoom. If you would like to view a recording of a virtual workshop, please click on one of the links below. Although each workshop was modified for each city, the information about the Housing Element remained the same.
Review the Housing Opportunity Sites for Each City
Every jurisdiction in California must provide sufficient land to accommodate its share of regional housing need. The selected sites are opportunities for housing development. Cities do not generally build housing (that is the function of private developers). Rather, cities adopt plans, regulations, and programs that provide opportunities for how and where housing development occurs. The Housing Element identifies sites that are suitable for development and may implement programs to support housing development, but property owners are not required to build housing.
Click on the links below to review the proposed housing opportunity sites for each city in the regional housing element, and fill out the survey to provide input.
The Region by the Numbers
From 2000 to 2020, Tulare County’s population grew by 27% to 473,117. The most growth in the last decade occurred in the cities of Tulare, Porterville, and Dinuba.
From 2000 to 2020, the number of housing units in Tulare County grew by 26% from 119,539 units to 150,652 units.
The Median Household Income in the county is $49,687. In 2019, approximately 16% of households earned an income below the poverty line.
922 people in Tulare County are experiencing homelessness.
About the Project
The TCAG Regional Housing Element is a policy document that provides a comprehensive strategy for promoting the production of available, affordable, and adequate housing within the community. It serves as a strategy to address housing needs across the economic and social spectrum. State law requires that cities and counties update their housing elements every eight years. This Housing Element will cover the period of June 30, 2023, to December 31, 2031. The Housing Element must be certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) by a pre-determined deadline, which for Tulare County is December 31, 2023.
What is a Housing Element?
The Housing Element is a comprehensive assessment of current and future housing needs for all residents of the cities of Tulare, Exeter, Lindsay, Farmersville, Woodlake, Porterville, and Dinuba, as well as programs for meeting those needs. The primary focus of the Housing Element is to ensure decent, safe, sanitary, and affordable housing for current and future residents of these cities, including those with special needs.
View TCAG Housing Element Flyer above
Why is this important?
Since 1969, California law has required that all cities and counties demonstrate how they will meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. The State forecasts the need for housing based on population projections, and then each region must show how it will accommodate that need.
Providing housing to meet the needs of all income levels is important to the social and economic health of a city. Having an approved housing element makes cities and counties eligible for a variety of State or other public financings, including funds for affordable housing, parks, and infrastructure. If a jurisdiction does not meet its deadline to adopt its updated Housing Element, it could face fines and lawsuits from the State. A court may limit local land use decision-making authority until the jurisdiction brings its Housing Element into compliance.
What will the Housing Element Update Include?
As cities grow and evolve, the population’s housing needs change. The Regional Housing Element update will assess how the participating cities’ current demands are being met and plan for projected housing needs over the next eight years. The cities will continue to prioritize affordable housing available for all residents, tailored to the unique demographics of each community. The Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation will inform planning and development to support the evolving housing needs of residents.
State law requires specific components to be included:
- Adequate Sites Inventory: an inventory of land suitable for residential development that could accommodate the cities’ RHNA allocations
- Constraints and Barriers Analysis: an evaluation of governmental and nongovernmental barriers to housing production
- Goals, Policies, and Implementation Programs: Identification of specific policies and actions to implement the Housing Element
- Other analyses, policies, and goals to meet community housing needs, and/or comply with applicable State law
Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA)
RHNA is a process driven by the state that quantifies the housing need for each jurisdiction. The State determines each planning region’s housing needs based on demographic information and anticipated growth in the area. The Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) then allocates the housing need amongst all the jurisdiction within its region. The RHNA allows communities to anticipate and plan for growth in a smart and sustainable way that enhances the quality of life and access to resources. In consultation with California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), TCAG developed the RHNA Methodology and Final RHNA Subregional Shares, which detail housing allocation, separated into four income categories based on household income levels determined as percent of Area Median Income (AMI): Very Low Income, Moderate Income, and Above Moderate Income.
Many new State housing laws relevant to this Housing Element update cycle have been enacted since the 5th cycle Housing Element in 2015. The Regional Housing Element will incorporate and address pertinent housing law changes through analysis, new policies, or new programs. The relevant laws include:
- Affordable Housing Streamlined Approval Process: Senate Bill (SB) 35 (2017), Assembly Bill (AB) 168, and AB 831 – These bills support a streamlined, ministerial review process for qualifying multifamily, urban infill projects in jurisdictions that have not approved housing projects sufficient to meet their state‐mandated RHNA.
- Additional Housing Element Sites Analysis Requirements: AB 879 (2017) and AB 1397 (2017) – These bills require additional analysis and justification of the sites included in the site’s inventory of the City’s Housing Element.
- Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: AB 686 (2017) – AB 686 requires the City to administer its housing programs and activities in a manner to affirmatively further fair housing and not take any action that is inconsistent with this obligation.
- No-Net-Loss Zoning: SB 166 (2017) – SB 166 amended the No‐Net‐Loss rule to require that the land inventory and site identification programs in the Housing Element include sufficient sites to accommodate the unmet RHNA. The Project sites inventory far exceeds the City’s RHNA, allowing for additional sites to be used for additional housing units as needed.
- Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU): AB 2299 (2016), SB 1069 (2016), AB 494 (2017), SB 229 (2017), AB 68 (2019), AB 881 (2019), AB 587 (2019), SB 13 (2019), AB 670 (2019), AB 671 (2019), and AB 3182 (2020) – The 2016 and 2017 updates to state law included changes pertaining to the allowed size of ADUs, permitting ADUs by right in at least some areas of jurisdiction, and limits on parking requirements related to ADUs. More recent bills reduce the time to review and approve ADU applications to 60 days, remove lot size requirements and replace parking space requirements and require local jurisdictions to permit junior ADUs.
- Density Bonus: AB 1763 (2019) and AB 2345 (2020) – AB 1763 amended California’s density bonus law to authorize significant development incentives to encourage 100 percent affordable housing projects, allowing developments with 100 percent affordable housing units to receive an 80 percent density bonus from the otherwise maximum allowable density on the site. AB 2345 created additional density bonus incentives for affordable housing units provided in a housing development project. It also requires that the annual report include information regarding density bonuses that were granted.
- Housing Crisis Act of 2019: SB 330 – SB 330 enacts changes to local development policies, permitting, and processes that will be in effect through January 1, 2025.
- Inclusionary Housing: California Assembly Bill 1505, enacted in 2017, authorized cities and counties to adopt inclusionary housing ordinances, which can require new residential development to include a certain percentage of residential rental units affordable to various households by income. Inclusionary housing can be a mandatory requirement or voluntary goal to reserve a certain percentage of housing units for lower-income households in new residential developments. Considerations for inclusionary housing programs may include inclusionary percentage (i.e., percentage of development dedicated for affordability), income levels targeted, alternatives to construction on-site, developer incentives, and length of affordability.
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Existing Plan Documents
- 2015-2023 Tulare County Housing Element
- 2015-2023 City of Tulare Housing Element
- 2016-2023 City of Exeter Housing Element
- 2019 City of Lindsay Housing Element
- 2016-2023 City of Farmersville Draft Housing Element
- 2019-2023 City of Woodlake Housing Element
- 2015-2023 City of Porterville Housing Element
- 2015-2023 City of Dinuba Housing Element
Frequently Asked Questions
Housing Element Questions
Why does the Housing Element need to be updated?
California State law requires that local governments update their Housing Element every eight years. These updates are required because housing needs change over time and housing is critical to ensure economic prosperity and quality of life. Without a certified Element, jurisdictions would be ineligible for some of the state and other public affordable housing grants and funds it currently receives or is eligible for. Other public funding opportunities, including those for streets, bike lanes, and other infrastructure could also be jeopardized. The jurisdiction would also be vulnerable to lawsuits for not working proactively to meet its housing needs. Typical remedies for such lawsuits include court orders to meet state certification requirements and, in some cases, court ordered moratoriums on development. These lawsuits are expensive and can have adverse fiscal and economic effects.
What is included in a Housing Element?
The Housing Element is a housing plan that identifies policies and programs a jurisdiction will implement to meet housing demand. Housing Element components are largely dictated by the State. The Housing Element Update must include:
- A detailed analysis of a city or county’s demographic, economic, and housing characteristics.
- A comprehensive analysis of constraints to producing and preserving housing.
- A review of progress in implementing current housing policies and programs.
- Identification of goals, objectives, and policies, in addition to a full list of programs that will implement the vision of the plan.
- A list of sites that could accommodate new housing, demonstrating the County’s ability to meet the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA).
Because the Housing Element is updated frequently, a jurisdiction’s existing element provides a foundation for this update. This update gives the jurisdiction an opportunity to evaluate the previous element and determine which parts have been effective and which should be improved. Read the 2015-2023 Housing Elements for more information on the participating cities’ existing policies and programs.
What does Housing Element law require?
The participating cities must demonstrate that they can accommodate the housing units specified in their RHNA in compliance with a wide range of state rules. Relevant housing legislation addresses several overarching goals:
- Accommodate projected housing demand, as mandated by the State,
- Increase housing production to meet this demand,
- Improve housing affordability,
- Preserve existing affordable housing,
- Improve the safety, quality, and condition of existing housing,
- Facilitate the development of housing for all income levels and household types, including special needs populations,
- Improve the livability and economic prosperity of all City residents, and
- Promote fair housing choices for all.
 Fair housing is the right to choose housing free from unlawful discrimination. Federal, state, and local fair housing laws protect people from discrimination in housing transactions such as rentals, sales, lending, and insurance.
Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) Questions
What is RHNA?
RHNA stands for “Regional Housing Needs Assessment.” The RHNA decides the number of residential units the city must plan for in the Housing Element. The RHNA identifies the number of residential units required for each economic income segment, which includes very-low, low, moderate, and above-moderate incomes. The calculation of income levels is based on Area Median Income (AMI), which for Tulare County is $80,300 per year for a household of four. The RHNA for Tulare County is 33,214 housing units.
Must cities build the housing required by RHNA?
While cities do not generally build housing – that is the function of private developers – they do adopt plans, regulations, and programs that provide opportunities for how and where housing development occurs. Although the Housing Element identifies sites that are available in the cities to plan for future housing, it does not mean the property owner is required to build the housing within the next 8 years or any time in the future. Rather, the cities are required to identify sites that are suitable for development and may implement programs to support housing development.
What makes a house affordable to an income group?
The foundation of Housing Element Law is based on the premise that density is a proxy for affordability. More housing units on a site (density) typically translates to lower construction costs per unit, which reduces the rental/sale prices of those units (affordability). Based on this, HCD assigns minimum density figures to each income category.
How will housing locations be selected?
The updated housing plan must show the exact locations where future housing can be built and identify the potential number of homes that can be built at those locations. Housing Elements include an inventory of the sites that shows where housing units can be accommodated. The sites must meet certain criteria and have potential for development during the eight-year planning period. Some of the sites identified may already allow housing that can accommodate a certain percentage of the RHNA income categories.
The cities may establish criteria and eliminate sites based on the following:
- Topography is not conducive to building
- Sites are not safe because they are in a flood zone or high-fire area
- Sites are in areas deemed off-limits by the airport because they are in the flight path or noise levels would be too high
Criteria to support additional housing may include:
- Vacant lots not designated as open space
- Underutilized sites, such as lots with uses or structures that are no longer needed or need rehabilitation
- Locations where housing could become denser than it is today
- Locations near public transit and essential services like neighborhood-serving retail centers
- Sites where infrastructure, such as water and sewer service, can support more housing
Additionally, per the HCD Site Inventory Guidebook, sites best suited to accommodate the RHNA for lower-income households have access to a variety of resources and opportunities like proximity to transit, access to good schools, and other factors.
The housing opportunity sites plan is also developed with input from residents during the Housing Element update process. The Housing Element will align with previous and ongoing planning efforts in the cities and the region.
What about other important topics, like homelessness or the high cost of housing? Are those addressed too?
A Housing Element discusses issues, trends, and solutions for additional topics relevant to housing, including homelessness and high housing costs.
Affordable Housing Questions
What is affordable or below market rate housing; and what are the definitions of very low, low, moderate, and above moderate income?
This is housing that is offered at a price lower than the market rate. This is usually possible because of government subsidies and other programs that help lower the price or rent of housing. Affordable housing is usually limited to individuals and families that fit into a specific income category (ranging anywhere from less than 30% of area median income to 120% of area median income).
Cities are required to facilitate the production of housing that is affordable to households across various income levels. These income categories are defined by the state and are based on varying percentages of the Area Media Income (AMI), in which earning 30% of AMI is considered extremely low income, 50% of AMI is considered very low income. 80% of AMI is considered low income and between 80-120% is considered moderate income. For each income category, housing is considered “affordable” if occupants pay no more than 30% of their income on housing costs.
The chart below shows 2022 income limits in Tulare County as set by the State.
Will Housing Element sites be developed with low-income housing?
The RNHA process attempts to encourage the development of housing at all income levels, with a focus on affordable housing. There is a presumed correlation between density (i.e., the number of housing units per acre) and affordability (i.e., housing built to higher densities is affordable to a greater segment of the population). However, it should be noted that RHNA process does not establish rental rates or sales prices. Ultimately, the type of housing built on these sites will depend on the housing market and local economy.
Community Input Questions
What role does community input play in the Housing Element update?
A successful Housing Element is based on an inclusive process in which all residents and local organizations/businesses have the chance to participate. State planning law requires that communities make diligent efforts to engage public participation that includes all stakeholders and income groups. The public process for the Housing Element Update will include various outreach events. Late in the process, there will be formal hearings to adopt the updated Housing Element. Written public comments regarding issues related to housing are always welcome. If you would like to be contacted regarding future meetings, please join our mailing list.
How can I get involved in the Housing Element Update process?
Please sign up to our mailing list to be notified of the next meeting or opportunity for online input. The success of this update requires extensive community input and engagement. There will be multiple opportunities to participate throughout the update, both in person and online.