The San Joaquin Valley, like the rest of California, is facing unprecedented housing supply and affordability challenges. In response to these challenges, the State of California is, among other things, requiring cities and counties to do more to encourage and support housing production. The State is also providing a broad range of funding opportunities and technical assistance to assist local governments with meeting these requirements. One of those funding opportunities is the Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) grant program, which has funded this study.
The San Joaquin Valley Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) Committee commissioned this report to assist the 62 Valley cities and eight counties respond to the new State housing requirements. The Report includes a broad array of resources to help local government with addressing housing supply and affordability. It also includes well over 100 findings and recommendations for action by local, regional, and State agencies
Report preparation included: outreach to housing stakeholders; city, county, and MPO staff; and the public. It also included coordination with HCD staff; periodic informational webinars; research on socioeconomic and housing data; housing production impediments; and general plan, housing element, and regulatory mechanism best practices. Where appropriate, topics addressed included statutory references, resources, examples, case studies, findings, and recommendations.
The steady population and housing growth that has occurred in the San Joaquin Valley since 1980 has dramatically slowed in the last decade. The region has become more diverse, but there are disparities in income, poverty, and homeownership among racial and ethnic groups. In general, the region has lower housing values and lower housing costs than the rest of California; however, homeowners and renters experience housing cost burdens on-par with state levels due to the region’s comparatively lower incomes.
Valley housing production is at its lowest point in decades. From 1980 to 2010, units built increased at an annual rate of 1.6 to 2.5 percent; however, from 2010 to 2020 there was only a 0.6 percent annual increase, or about 7,678 units built annually. This change mirrors the decrease in the regional population growth rate, which according to the U.S Census Bureau 2010 and 2020 Census, was only a 0.9 percent annual increase from 2010 to 2020.
According to 2019 data from the California Housing Partnership (CHP), the Valley faces a shortfall of 122,597 affordable homes to meet the housing needs of existing extremely low-income and very low-income renter households.
In order to address the Valley’s challenging housing trends, cities, counties, MPOs, and the State must work collaboratively together, with each agency fulfilling their separate roles and responsibilities to help increase housing production and affordability in the Valley. Beyond enacting new laws, the State must continue to increase funding and technical assistance to local government to support their efforts. MPOs unique position enables them to help coordinate their member agencies efforts, provide funding, and, in some cases, organize collaborative, multijurisdictional efforts to better address key housing programs, such as 6th cycle housing element updates. However, the bulk of this report is aimed at providing tools and resources to assist cities and counties carry out their planning and regulatory responsibilities related to housing development. It is essentially a toolkit of best practices, case studies, resources, templates assembled by a team of experienced planners aimed at improving Valley city and county housing planning capacity. After providing detailed demographic and housing data to support a broad array housing analytical efforts (see Parts 1 and 4) and summarizing stakeholder and local planner input (Part 3), Part 2 of the Report lays out an extensive planning practice guide on fifty-six specific key planning and regulatory programs organized in six major topic areas (general plans, housing elements, regulatory mechanisms, funding and financing, housing production and ownership, and land availability). Each topic area includes findings and recommendations as well.
It is the REAP Committee’s hope that this Report will provide valuable assistance to and support for local and regional planning efforts to begin to reverse the declining housing production and increasing housing cost trends of last decade. The Committee also hopes the State will continue to take action that supports and incentives these efforts without creating additional financial and regulatory burdens on local government.
This “snapshot in time” report is intended to inform housing element update efforts in the San Joaquin Valley by highlighting its different population, economic, and housing trends, as well as those characteristics that distinguish the Valley from other parts of the state. The report will help tailor future housing policy and programs to better meet Valley needs. Toward that end, it addresses the following questions:
- What are the region’s key demographic, economic, and housing characteristics?
- What trends – both encouraging and concerning – are common regionwide?
- How is the region the same and different from the rest of the state?
- What are the key differences among subregions?
Part Two provides an overview of housing production trends, impediments, and best practices in the San Joaquin Valley. The overview is based on statutory requirements, stakeholder/MPO director interviews, planning practice, city and county planning staff survey results, and broad Valleywide research. This part provides background on key planning topics relevant to Valley housing production and affordability. The intent is to provide the reader with a broad understanding of the range of planning and regulatory responsibilities of Valley cities and counties, describe the challenges facing local governments to plan for and accommodate their fair share of housing, and identify resources for addressing these challenges.
Fifty-six topics are addressed in this Part. In each section, an overview provides a brief description of the topic or issue, including a brief history and relevance to housing in the San Joaquin Valley. Impediments and best practices are described. Relevant State laws are identified, if applicable. The San Joaquin Valley experience is then summarized based on stakeholder and MPO director interview results, city/county planning staff survey results, and supplemental research. Resources, templates, and examples are provided where useful. Finally, recommendations for future action are suggested.
Part Three of this report includes summaries of the results of the stakeholder outreach and city/county survey. The three reports are:
- Stakeholder interviews summary
- MPO director interviews summary
- City/county planning staff survey results
Part Four of this report provides a link to the Excel workbook that includes county and regional data tables and figures detailing population, household, economic, and housing data.