What is the General Plan Housing Element and why does the City have to update it?

    The Housing Element is a required chapter of the City’s General Plan. It is a policy document initiated by the City that identifies policies and programs to meeting existing and projected future housing needs for all economic segments in the City of Brea. The 2021-2029 Housing Element identifies specific actions to address local housing needs.

    Key features of the Housing Element include:

    • Maintaining existing housing quality and affordability
    • Assisting in the provision of new affordable housing
    • Providing adequate housing sites to address Brea's regional housing needs (RHNA)
    • Identifying and removing governmental constraints to housing development
    • Promoting equal housing opportunities
    • Promoting sustainability, energy efficiency and healthy community

    Unlike other elements of the General Plan, State law requires the Housing Element to be updated every eight years. The City’s current Housing Element (5th Cycle) was adopted by the City Council in August 2013 and covers the period 2014-2021. The next housing cycle (6th Cycle) will cover the eight-year planning period from October 2021 to October 2029.

    Is the Housing Element a separate stand-alone plan?

    The Housing Element is one of seven State-mandated elements of the General Plan, and is required to be internally consistent with other parts of the General Plan. In order to function as a useful statement of local policy, the various components of the General Plan need to "comprise an integrated, internally consistent and compatible statement of policies for the adopting agency" (Government Code section 65300.5). So, for example, if the Housing Element identifies additional areas for housing, the Land Use Element would need to be amended for internal consistency.

    What is the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA)?

    The RHNA is mandated by State Housing law to quantify the existing and projected need for housing by income categories for each local jurisdiction during specified planning periods. SCAG determined each city’s housing growth need projections for the 6th cycle RHNA allocation plan which will cover the planning period of October 2021 through October 2029. The City of Brea is allocated a number of housing units to accommodate this growth. The Housing Element must identify sites that have the potential to accommodate projected future growth.

    Communities use the RHNA in land use planning, prioritizing local resource allocation, and in deciding how to address identified existing and future housing needs resulting from population, employment and household growth. The RHNA does not necessarily encourage or promote growth, but rather allows communities to anticipate growth, so that collectively the region and subregion can grow in ways that enhance quality of life, improve access to jobs, promotes transportation mobility, and addresses social equity, fair share housing needs.

    Why does Brea have to plan for more housing?

    California’s population has continued to grow by approximately 500,000 each year, translating to an annual need for about 220,000 new units. State housing element law requires each city and county to plan for their “fair share” of the State’s housing growth needs through quantity and affordability level.   The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is the regional agency responsible for defining the fair share allocation among its six counties (Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura), and 191 cities in the Southern California region. Based on economic and demographic forecasts, the State has determined that the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) region needs to accommodate 1,341,827 housing units between 2021 and 2029 to meet housing demand.

    How much new housing will Brea need to plan for in the next 8-year Housing Element cycle?

    SCAG has allocated the region’s 1,341,827 housing unit growth needs to each city and county through a process called the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). Brea’s Final RHNA for the 2021-2029 planning period (6th RHNA cycle) is 2,365 units, distributed among the following income categories:

     Income Level

     Percent of Area Median Income (AMI)

    Very Low31-50%66928%
    Above Moderate120%+90038%

    The RHNA represents the minimum number of housing units Brea is required to plan for in its housing element by providing “adequate sites” through general plan and zoning.  The State requires that jurisdictions create a sufficient buffer in the Housing Element sites inventory beyond that required by the RHNA to ensure adequate sites  capacity exists throughout the planning period.

    What is Included in the update process?

    The Housing Element Update is a community-based process that includes a variety of analyses, as well as multiple activities and opportunities for the Brea community to be involved, including:

    • Virtual and in-person engagement (when it is deemed safe to do so)
    • Online community survey
    • Review of draft documents
    • Identification of housing sites to accommodate future growth need
    • Public Hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council

    How can I participate in the update process?

    Register to get involved. Check out the Ways to participate and take the Survey. You can provide the City with comments, preferences, and additional feedback. You can also attend a meeting. Go to Key Dates for more information