2021-2029 Housing Element

Housing Element Pg Photo

2021-2029 Housing Element

The City of Tustin’s 2021-2029 Housing Element has been adopted by the Tustin City Council, and certified by HCD.  

View the Final 2021-2029 Housing Element.

Resources and Documents

General Information

What is a Housing Element?

The Housing Element is one of nine state-mandated elements of the City’s General Plan. The Housing Element identifies the City’s housing needs and conditions, and establishes goals, objectives and policies that form the basis of the City’s vision and strategy for enhancing and preserving the community’s character, and expanding housing opportunities for all Tustin community members. The element also contains in-depth analysis and evaluation of the City’s population, economics, household size, housing stock, housing programs, and regulations. 

State Law establishes that each city accommodate its fair share of affordable housing as an approach to distributing housing needs throughout the state. State Housing Element law also recognizes that in order for the private sector to address housing needs and demand, local governments must adopt land-use plans and implement regulations that provide opportunities for, and do not unduly constrain, housing development by the private sector. State housing laws regarding Housing Elements are found in the California Government Code Sections 65580-65589. Unlike the other mandatory general plan elements, the housing element is required to be updated every eight years. It is also subject to detailed statutory requirements and mandatory review and approval by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

According to State law, the Housing Element must:

  • Provide goals, policies, quantified objectives and scheduled programs to preserve, improve and develop housing;
  • Identify and analyze existing and projected housing needs for all economic segments of the community;
  • Identify adequate sites that are zoned and available within the 8-year housing cycle to meet the city’s fair share of regional housing needs at all income levels;
  • Be certified (approved) by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) as complying with state law; and,
  • Be internally consistent with other parts of the General Plan (and meeting this requirement is critical to having a legally adequate General Plan).

Where can I watch informational videos to understand the purpose of the Housing Element?

"Housing for All" informational videos are provided below:

What are the benefits of updating a Housing Element?

The City of Tustin has started the process of updating the Housing Element of the City’s General Plan to ensure we are prepared to meet Tustin’s future housing needs. Your input will help the City develop a plan that best reflects the community’s needs, values, and priorities, related to housing. Under State law, every city and county is required to update its Housing Element to address specific requirements and submit the updated Housing Element to the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). The Housing Element Update will build upon, and revise, as appropriate, the goals, policies and programs of the Housing Element, to ensure that the City can meet the housing needs of all Tustin residents from 2021 through 2029.

Maintaining a State-compliant Housing Element ensures that Tustin is eligible for critical state and federal funds that require a certified Housing Element by HCD. Jurisdictions that do not maintain a compliant Housing Element are at risk of significant repercussions, including:

  • Potential loss of local land use control;
  • Carryover of unaddressed allocations, increasing the total number of housing units that the City is responsible for accommodating;
  • Ineligibility for various State-administered funds, including infrastructure, parks, housing, and planning funds: and,
  • The City’s entire General Plan becomes vulnerable to legal challenge.

What is a regional housing needs allocation (RHNA)?

The Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) is mandated by State law to quantify the need for housing throughout the State. This informs the local planning process to address existing and future housing need resulting from projected state-wide growth in population, employment, and households. The Housing Element Update must address the housing needs identified by the RHNA prepared by SCAG for Tustin. 

As the Council of Governments (or regional planning agency), SCAG is responsible for overseeing the RHNA process for the Southern California region, which encompasses six counties (Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura) and 191 cities in an area covering more than 38,000 square miles. SCAG is currently overseeing the 6th cycle RHNA for the 2021-2029 planning period. 

Tustin has a final RHNA allocation for 6,782 units to accommodate an estimated growth need at various income levels. The Housing Element must provide sites to accommodate this estimated growth at each income level. The final RHNA allocation for Tustin is as follows:

Updated RHNA Allocation Sept 2021

What is the RHNA for Tustin for 2021-2029 and how will the required units be distributed? 

The City’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) obligation for this planning period is 6,782 units and the units will be distributed throughout the City. The City must demonstrate in its Housing Element the ability to meet the assigned housing needs, through the provision of sites suitable for residential development. To meet the assigned housing needs, the Housing Element identifies candidate sites that may be suitable for residential development in the following areas:

    Ten (10) Downtown Commercial Core Specific Plan (DCCP) mixed-use sites;

    Four (4) Red Hill Avenue Specific Plan (RHASP) mixed-use sites;

    Four (4) Tustin Legacy Specific Plan (TLSP) mixed-use urban residential sites; 

    The Market Place; and

    The Enderle Center

The draft Housing Element will come before the Planning Commission for consideration on September 14, 2021, and tentatively on October 5, 2021, before the City Council. The Housing Element will specify how the housing units will be distributed proportionately among the identified areas (as referenced above) using RHNA mandated percentages initially as a basis and will be adjusted based upon the viability of the sites to accommodate lower income units.  This distribution strategy is consistent with RHNA requirements, which specifies that the City set aside 40% of the total allocation for Very-Low- and Low-income units (see RHNA income distribution table below).   

The following charts provide a summary of the unit breakdown for Tustin to meet the State mandated RHNA obligation. 

Adtl RHNA Table Sept 2021

Why are these sites recommended to meet the RHNA obligation?

HCD provides guidance in selecting sites to meet RHNA obligations.  In addition to identifying land suitable for residential development, HCD also requires the City to comply with AB 686 (Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Sites Requirement).  At the most basic level, this requirement suggests that sites zoned to accommodate housing for lower-income households must be located in areas with access to greater resources, amenities, and opportunity (i.e. areas that have adequate schools, jobs, community amenities and services, parks, grocery stores, active transportation, etc.).  Sites identified to meet the City’s RHNA allocation also cannot be located in a segregated concentrated area of poverty, but rather must be dispersed throughout the community.

In keeping with HCD Sites Inventory guidance, Staff studied other sites to determine their potential for meeting HCD site criteria.   The areas studied included: Pacific Center East, Jamboree Plaza industrial area, 17th Street Corridor and many other areas in the City.   Pacific Center East and Jamboree Plaza are not recommended for inclusion in the Housing Element because they are highly likely to be deemed non-compliant sites as they do not satisfy the HCD housing Sites Inventory criteria due to the fact that these areas are lacking resources such as schools, grocery stores, parks, community amenities and services, etc.  In addition, Pacific Center East and Jamboree Plaza consist of predominately light industrial and office uses which may pose land use compatibility issues for residential development.  Other areas were considered; however, due to the requirement that the City must re-zone the area within three (3) years of adoption, staff recommends Tustin Legacy for the following reasons: 

  • The City has control of the land which facilitates development opportunities,
  • The City has performed infrastructure studies and has identified that the Tustin Legacy area has the capacity to accommodate additional housing units,
  • The sites identified are vacant and the likelihood for housing development to occur at the sites is high, 
  • Tustin Legacy provides the resources, amenities, and opportunities identified in the HCD Sites Inventory guidance, and
  • Implementation of the Tustin Legacy Specific Plan is underway with residential units under construction.  

The draft Housing Element released in June 2021 was subsequently amended by the City Council at meetings that took place on August 17 and on September 7, 2021, in response to public comments.  Specifically, the revisions added and redistributed units to the Tustin Market Place and Enderle Center sites, with no increase in the number of units at Tustin Legacy area. These revisions also included adjustments to the distribution of units at various income levels (based on RHNA percentages) evenly and proportionately throughout the sites.

The creation of overlay zones and/or an amendment to Specific Plan(s) will be required in order to accommodate additional housing units to the meet the City RHNA allocation at the properties identified in the draft housing element “Sites Inventory”, and are therefore only considered candidate sites.  Additional evaluation and a separate environmental assessment will be completed concurrently with the adoption of an overlay/rezone and/or amendment to the City’s General Plan, and is required by State law to take place within three (3) years of the City’s adoption of the 2021-2029 Housing Element.  

It should be noted that notwithstanding the information above, the City Council can direct staff to initiate studies to identify housing development opportunities at areas outside of Tustin Legacy (i.e. Pacific Center East, Jamboree Plaza), independent from the Housing Element preparation process.   The rezoning of any areas of interest can be initiated at any time upon request.  An independent study is highly recommended, as those studies would require additional time, resources and extensive community and property owner input and outreach.  Undertaking such studies now would delay the City’s current Housing Element preparation and certification by HCD, which would result in the City not having a compliant Housing Element.  

How are special needs groups and homeless considered in the Housing Element?

Special needs groups required to be analyzed in the Housing Element include the elderly, persons with physical and developmental disabilities, persons experiencing homelessness, single parents, large households, and farmworkers.  Many of these special needs groups overlap.  For example, many farmworkers are migrant workers, and many elderly people have a self‐care limitation of some type. The City’s Draft Housing Element addresses Special Needs.

Can the City incentivize the creation of accessory dwelling unit (ADU’s) by having pre-approved plans for applicants to use?

A number of State Assembly and Senate Bills were passed in 2019 and 2020 that promote and remove barriers that may inhibit the development of ADUs within communities.  These bills, as well as other significant legislation relating to ADUs creates a development environment that is likely to increase the number of ADUs developed.  SCAG is currently exploring the facilitation of grant funding to assist cities with creating permit ready ADU plans, should cities elect to implement such a program.  

Can the City look at opportunities for infill opportunities and address blight?

The City Housing Element will include a program which states that the City will evaluate the existing provisions in the Zoning Code for feasibility of providing additional regulatory relief (i.e., streamlined review, reduced and objective development standards, lot consolidation, and other methods deemed appropriate) to further encourage infill housing development. The City will identify and develop an inventory of potential infill sites utilizing the site analysis that City staff has conducted to date and it will be included in the Housing Element as an attachment. The City will seek to create partnerships with and provide informational material including a copy of the inventory and listing of City incentives and programs to housing developers.

How did the City expand its Housing Element outreach efforts during the 2021-2029 Cycle update? 

During the preparation of the update, City Staff have provided expansive public outreach via social media, City’s website, postcard mailings, etc. The City conducted two (2) online surveys which solicited comments from Tustin residents and community to gather feedback regarding various housing topics. The online Housing Element Community survey was first opened from January 28, 2021, through February 28, 2021, and the City received 194 responses, including two (2) in Spanish.  Following the May 11, 2021, City Council/Planning Commission Housing Element Workshop, the survey was reopened from July 1 – July 31, 2021.  City staff received an additional 119 responses, four (4) of those were responses to the Spanish language survey.  The re-opening of the survey in July 2021 coincided with the draft Housing Element document public comment period. For the release of the revised draft Housing Element document on September 14, 2021, further outreach efforts are being made through use of paid social media ads, e-mail blasts, mailings, and website updates. Please   Please review the City's Community Engagement Plan for further information on City efforts in engaging the community to participate in the Housing Element update process. 

Contact us

For more questions about the 2021-2029 Housing Element Update, or to review documents which were made available for public review during the Housing Element Update process, please email us at housingelement@tustinca.org or call the Planning Department at 714-573-3140.