State could mandate tens of thousands of new housing units across the West Valley over next decade

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Updated state housing mandates could mean tens of thousands of new housing units in the West Valley over the next decade, according to preliminary documents from a local regional planning agency.

The information, part of the Association of Bay Area Governments meeting Thursday, is an early look at the ongoing housing crisis the region faces. While rents on available units have declined in the COVID-19 era, demand remains high. Meanwhile, supply never caught up to the sky-rocketing growth in new jobs since the Great Recession.

Every eight years, the region receives a mandate from state housing officials on how many new housing units must be built to meet the continued demand and population increases. This is known as the Regional Housing Need Allocation or RHNA. In 2015, that number was 58,836 in Santa Clara County by 2023. While our region has fallen behind that goal, the state has threatened legal action against cities who don’t comply.

For the next cycle, running from 2023 to 2031, the state has set a tentative Bay Area target of 441,176. Santa Clara County could see well more than double that 58,836 number of new units required in the county in the current cycle.

A number of factors will determine allocations by city, including access to transit. That results from the increased focus on building more housing near transit and jobs hubs. Planning for future job growth will also inform totals.

If percentages of Santa Clara County’s total match the current cycle, virtually every city will see massive new mandates. Final allocations are expected by the end of 2021.