San Mateo County Housing Element Update 2023-2031

What is the Housing Element?

The Housing Element is a component of the County’s General Plan, which establishes the goals and policies for the future development of the unincorporated County. The Housing Element is a required component of the General Plan, mandated by State Law, and the Housing Element must be periodically updated, on a schedule established by State law.

The Housing Element is the primary document that assesses the County’s housing needs, and establishes policies and programs to address those needs, for the next eight years, from 2023 to 2031.

The Housing Element must also demonstrate that the unincorporated County has sufficient developable or redevelopable sites to meet the County’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation, the amount of housing that the State of California and the regional Association of Bay Area Governments determines is needed over the next eight years. 

The County’s Housing Element only covers unincorporated portions of the County; each City within the County also has its own Housing Element, which must be updated on the same schedule. 

Once the Housing Element is updated, it must be reviewed by the County Planning Commission, adopted by the Board of Supervisors, and submitted to the California Department of Housing and Community Development for review and approval. 

More information on the requirement for the Housing Element, the update process, and other elements of State law are available at the HCD website.

What is the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA)?

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) determines the amount of housing needed for the Bay Area as a whole, over the eight year period covered by the Housing Element. The Association of Bay Area Governments then allocates this total housing need among all the jurisdictions in the Bay Area, including each city and county. Each jurisdiction’s amount is its Regional Housing Need Allocation, or RHNA. The total RHNA for each jurisdiction is also divided by income level, showing the amount of housing needed for various income categories. 

The RHNA process is described in more detail on HCD’s website, and the allocations for Bay Area jurisdictions are available on ABAG’s website, as well as a description of the process for creating the allocations, and other information on the RHNA process.

A key component of the County’s Housing Element will be an inventory of sites available for development of housing at appropriate income levels, demonstrating that there is sufficiently available land to meet the County’s RHNA.

What is the Process for Updating the Housing Element?

The Housing Element update is in its early stages. The process will include information gathering and data collection on current housing conditions and housing needs, challenges, and barriers; analysis of available sites for housing development; public outreach, input, and engagement, including various public workshops and forums; creation and assessment of housing policies and programs; draft documents; Planning Commission review, Board of Supervisors approval, and ultimately submittal to the California Department of Housing and Community Development for review and approval. A proposed schedule and information on these steps will be posted here as the update proceeds.

Opportunities for Input

The Housing Update will be based on community input, and there will be a variety of opportunities to participate in public forums and hearings, and to provide direct input by other means. Input opportunities will be posted to this page as the update proceeds. To receive email updates, please sign up using the form on this page.

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