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Los Altos Hills updating Housing Element in 2022

Los Altos Hills is updating their Housing Element for the 2023-2031 planning period or 6th cycle and expects the project will take until the end of 2022 to complete. This comes after the Association of Bay Area Governments rejected the City’s appeal of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment allocation. The City’s RHNA goal for new housing units for 2023-2031 remains just under 500 units about half of which are required to be moderately priced or better.

In an ongoing outreach effort, Los Altos Hills has several upcoming community events planned through January of 2022. Residents can sign up to get involved in the process on the Housing Element update website. Residents should expect higher housing unit allocations, significant process towards fair housing, more scrutiny regarding the site inventory process (especially for sites included in previous inventories), and a strong element of safety and environmental justice.

ADU in Palo Alto, Design by Housable

ADU in Palo Alto by Housable

The city hopes to connect with residents and community members, advocacy groups, faith organizations, and government officials during the process to ensure that the update reflects not only what is required at the state level, but what residents hope to see for the future of their city. Community input will help shape the city’s housing plan for the next decade. 

The update will be completed in three phases; outreach and education to take place until February of 2022, staff update of the Housing Element based on community feedback followed by submission to the Department of Housing and Community development June 2022, capped with adoption by the Planning Commission and City Council and one final HCD review with the goal of approval by the January 2023 deadline.

Los Altos Hills Housing Element Update Timeline 2022

The first outreach event will take place on Tuesday, December 14 2021 from 6:30 to 7:30. Residents are invited to attend the Planning Commission and City Council Study Session for a community workshop focused on the update. The second event will take place the next day, on the 15th at 10:00 am at the Los Altos Library. The final 2021 event will take place on Monday, December 20 at 4:00 pm and will allow interested community members to connect directly with city staff regarding the update. So far only two events in 2022 are planned, a staff session on Thursday January 6 at 4:30 and another community workshop on Thursday January 13 at 6:30

The Los Altos Hills Housing Element update is also looking at community sentiment towards development, infill and ADUs. A survey conducted in early 2021 suggests that one barrier to property owners providing additional housing units is that permits are too complex, too expensive, and that septic or other site limitations limit any potential return on investment. See the chart below for other barriers

Los Altos Hills ADU Survey Sentiment Response Chart

The survey also found that ADUs are generally used by older adults but that occupations varied widely. While teachers were the largest single group of ADU occupants, other occupations included engineers and students. The general trend for ADUs is to maximize the space on the lot but stay below size thresholds which trigger additional fees, this is true in Los Altos Hills as well with most ADUs sized just under 750 square feet. A significant number of occupied ADUs (of those surveyed) weren’t providing any rental income because a family member was using it, but the most common rents charged were between $1,500 and $3,600. Of those surveyed that didn’t own and ADU, over 80% expressed interest in building one in the next five years

Read more here about building an ADU in Los Altos Hills.