Earlier this month, Sen. Anthony Portantino (D–Pasadena) joined several other state senators in submitting a formal request to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to approve and authorize an audit to examine the Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) regional housing needs determination process.
“We’re facing an unprecedented housing crisis and transparency is critical to determining regional housing needs,” Portantino said. “I join my colleagues in requesting a state audit in order to determine how our housing needs are being calculated and if they are being assessed appropriately. Several cities in the 25th Senate District have expressed concerns over regional housing allocations, and I hope this audit will help address those concerns.”
Currently, HCD is responsible for determining the regional housing needs assessment (RHNA) for each region’s planning body.
Last year, RHNA mandated Pasadena ensure the building of 9,408 units of new housing by October 2029, including 2,740 units of very low-income housing, 1,659 of low-income housing, 1,562 moderate-income housing, and 3,447 units of above-moderate income housing.
City and elected officials have called the task “impossible.”
“Like other cities in the region, Pasadena has housing challenges that we are actively working to address,” said Mayor Victor Gordo. “A review of the RHNA allocations set forth by HCD is desperately needed in order to ensure cities like ours, that are doing their part to address housing needs, are not treated unfairly. Moreover, because the current RHNA allocations are unrealistic, achieving them will be impossible. This approach helps no one. Let’s work on realistic goals and work together to achieve them.”
The city unsuccessfully attempted to appeal the allocation.
The audit’s scope will assess the state Department of Finance’s process for developing population projections used by HCD and determine what changes the department made to its projections in response to economic and demographic changes caused by the pandemic as well as new census information.
The audit will also evaluate the historical accuracy of the finance department’s population projections and HCD’s process for developing regional housing needs determinations to verify that it complies with state law and results in appropriate calculations.
HCD uses a formula to calculate the needs for each region, starting with demographic population information from the Department of Finance. This figure is negotiated with each council of governments to arrive at a final assessment.
This process does not allow the public to receive any information on the formula that HCD uses to calculate these initial numbers, which creates confusion and mistrust among the regional planning bodies and cities, according to Portantino.
“An audit by the California State Auditor will provide independently developed and verified information related to the Department of Finance, and the Department of Housing and Community Development’s role in calculating housing needs, the regional governments’ roles in allocating housing needs, and local jurisdictions’ roles in accommodating housing needs to facilitate development,” Portantino said in the statement.