In response to California’s critical housing needs, the Legislature enacted housing element law with the goal of providing adequate and safe housing for every Californian. The attainment of housing for all requires the cooperation of local and state governments.
Housing element law requires local governments to adequately plan to meet their existing and projected housing needs including their share of the regional housing need. Housing element law is the state’s primary market-based strategy to increase housing supply. The law recognizes the most critical decisions regarding housing development occur at the local level within the context of the General Plan. In order for the private sector to adequately address housing needs and demand, local governments must adopt land use plans and regulatory schemes that provide opportunities for, and do not unduly constrain, housing development for all income groups.
Unlike the other mandatory elements of the General Plan, the Housing Element is subject to detailed statutory requirements regarding its content and must be updated every five years. The Housing Element is also subject to mandatory review by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). This reflects the statutory recognition that the availability of housing is a matter of statewide importance and that cooperation between all levels of government and the private sector is critical to attainment of the state’s housing goals.
A. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PROCESS
The initial draft of the 2014 Housing Element Update was prepared by the Mono County Community Development Department. Housing issues and concerns for the unincorporated area were identified through ongoing discussions with the County's nine community and Regional Planning Advisory Committees (RPACs), which include a variety of local residents and local representatives from local, state, and federal agencies Based on comments received at those meetings, the existing Housing Element Policies were reviewed for consistency with community comments. Comments from those meetings are included in the summary of conclusions section and have been addressed throughout the element.
Attempts were made to contact Hispanic community directly through the RPACs but there are currently no Hispanic groups active in the county.
The Collaborative Planning Team also reviewed the County’s housing policies. The Collaborative Planning Team is a multi-agency planning team, consisting of local, state, and federal agencies, which focuses on a variety of planning and resource use issues in the Eastern Sierra. Members include Mono County, the Town of Mammoth Lakes, the Bureau of Land Management, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, the California Department of Fish and Game, Caltrans, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Inyo National Forest, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, the Benton Paiute Reservation, and the Bridgeport Indian Colony.
The draft update will be circulated to local agencies and organizations that provide housing- related services in the county, including:
Eastern Sierra Agency on Aging (ESAA), Bishop, California;
Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action (IMACA), Bishop, California;
Inyo Mono Association for the Handicapped (IMAH), Bishop, California;
Kern Regional Center, Bishop, California;
Mammoth Lakes Housing, Mammoth Lakes, California; and
Mono County Department of Social Services, Bridgeport, California.
Notice of the availability of the draft will also be provided through publication in the local newspaper and by posting at County offices and public libraries.
Both the Mono County Housing Authority and the Planning Commission have held public workshops to address housing issues and policies. After completion of the public participation and HCD review process, The Mono County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the Draft 2014 Housing Element Update, and the Board of Supervisors will be hold a final adoption hearing pending recommendation of the Planning Commission.
B. CONSISTENCY WITH THE GENERAL PLAN
Development in Mono County is affected by policies in the county's General Plan, by standards in the Mono County Land Development Regulations, by land use requirements imposed by other agencies, and by requirements of the Subdivision Map Act and the county's Subdivision Ordinance. The county's General Plan serves as a comprehensive, long-range plan for the development of the area. The location of housing is determined primarily by policies contained in the Land Use Element, which establish the amount and distribution of various land uses throughout the county. The Land Use Element also specifies the maximum allowable density for each residential General Plan designation.
In conformance with state law, the Mono County General Plan has been written to be internally consistent; the goals, objectives and policies of each element are intended to be consistent with those in other elements. The 2014 Housing Element Update was reviewed for consistency with the Land Use Element to determine if adequate sites are provided to allow for housing for all economic segments of the community. The Land Use Inventory shows that Mono County has more than adequate acreage to accommodate the housing needs projected by HCD in the Regional Housing Needs Plan prepared for the County.
The Housing Element was also reviewed for consistency with the Circulation and Conservation/Open Space Elements of the General Plan. In Mono County, the circulation system is well established, and there is little traffic congestion. When congestion does occur, it is not the result of residents’ commuting, but of recreational traffic at peak use periods or special events, combined with local use. Although the existing circulation system is generally adequate to provide for additional housing, the Circulation Element provides for improvements to the local transportation system that will allow for the continued development of housing.
Since 94% of the land in Mono County is publicly owned, and 90% is federally owned, much of Mono County remains open space. As a result, the provision of open space as a part of developed residential areas is not a particular concern in the county. Policies in both the Conservation/Open Space Element and the Land Use Element focus future development in existing community areas, providing additional open-space protection.
General Plan consistency for all elements, including the Housing Element, will be maintained through required annual progress reports that address comments and issues identified through the County's ongoing public participation processes, such as Regional Planning Advisory Committee (RPAC) meetings.