Everyone interested in housing issues in Southern Humboldt, whether in town or in rural areas, will have a chance to review the draft of the revised county Housing Element tomorrow evening, Wednesday, Oct. 23, at Redway Elementary School, beginning at 6 p.m.
This is a follow-up to a preliminary workshop held Aug. 28 that gathered requests and concerns from members of the public to help county staff prepare the draft revisions of the Housing Element.
Most of the participants in the Aug. 28 workshop came from the rural parts of SoHum, so the discussion centered on alternative owner-builder issues, as well as water storage, secondary units, and nomadic campgrounds for houseless persons.
Tomorrow’s workshop agenda calls for “review of proposed amended implementation measures and proposed new measures, based on input” as well as presentation of a timeline for the rest of the process.
”Implementation measures” are part of the current Housing Element. All elements of the General Plan include implementation measures that direct staff to take actions needed to further the goals and policies approved in the element.
The Housing Element is a required element of the county’s General Plan, but unlike the General Plan, which undergoes a major update every 20-25 years, the Housing Element must be revised every five years to comply with state law.
Non-compliance will make the county ineligible to receive funding from state agencies for assistance with housing, as well as possibly causing a curtailment of permits for new housing development.
The current Housing Element was approved by the board of supervisors in 2009 but underwent a series of revisions in response to state requests and two lawsuits from non-profit organizations with diverse views about housing.
The final version was accepted by the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) in 2012, close to the time when the county must begin planning for the next revision, which must be approved by the supervisors and submitted to HCD by July 1, 2014.
The state requires counties to provide adequate land that is correctly zoned for affordable housing for all income levels, based on statistics from the state Department of Finance (DOF), which compiles census data.
This process results in the Rural Housing Needs Assessment, commonly called “RHNA numbers.” (”RHNA” is pronounced “Reena.”)
For 2012, Humboldt County as a whole will be required to provide enough land for 2,060 new dwelling units, with the unincorporated areas (areas not within city boundaries) required to provide 859 new dwelling units.
In 2012 the total population of Humboldt County was 134,587 persons, with 71,710 persons living in unincorporated areas.
DOF projects Humboldt’s population to increase to 139,132 persons by 2020 and by 145,684 persons by 2030.
But more significant is the expected increase in households, since each household means a dwelling unit. Again according to DOF, Humboldt had 56,031 households in 2010, which is projected to increase to 57,880 households by 2015 and 59,038 households by 2020.
Household numbers do not correlate with population increases because the sizes of households change. For example, as the population ages, the number of one-person households is likely to increase.
Heavily populated unincorporated areas like McKinleyville and the outskirts of Eureka, such as Myrtletown and Cutten, which are outside the city limits, will likely be asked to absorb most of the increased housing because they are close to employment and services, but small unincorporated towns like Redway and Garberville will also be reviewed as places for potential housing for a gradually increasing population.
All these statistics and much more can be found on the county’s website. Go to the planning and building department’s home page at www.co.us.humboldt.us/planning/, and click on “Housing Element” in the list at the right side of the page.
The Housing Element home page lists a large number of documents and studies, including the entire text of the current Housing Element. Everything shown in green type can be seen by clicking on it.
For more information, call the planning department at 445-7541.