City to submit new 8-year housing plan for state approval

Long Beach is slated to submit a revised Housing Element plan to state regulators this week after the City Council unanimously approved the document at its Tuesday meeting. The plan includes more parcels for housing in higher income areas as well as updates on how the city can improve fair housing conditions.

The city every eight years is required to submit a Housing Element plan to the California Department of Housing and Community Development that shows how it expects to meet regional housing needs. Long Beach was assigned the goal of creating space for more than 26,000 units between 2021 and 2029, and nearly 60% of those units must be affordable.

The deadline to submit the new eight-year plan is Friday. If the city doesn’t receive state approval, it could face penalties including having to implement a major rezoning program that would require substantial resources, officials said.

Mayor Robert Garcia on Tuesday noted that Long Beach has made significant gains in the past decade in its approach to housing, thanks to efforts from the city and community advocates.

“If you go along the Downtown Corridor along  Midtown and along Cambodia Town, you’re going to see a lot of great projects and development that’s happening,” he said. “And much of it is affordable.”

While the Housing Element doesn’t guarantee housing will be built, it identifies parcels where developers can build housing based on local zoning laws.

In fact, the city met only 17% of its affordable housing requirements during the last cycle.

The effort this time around includes allowing housing on more parcels identified in “high resource” areas of the city like Cal Heights, Bixby Knolls and all of East Long Beach, as well as an inclusionary housing policy that will require developers to reserve a percentage of new units for lower-income households.

This is the third draft Long Beach has submitted to the state because regulators required changes for the last two drafts. After a second round of review, state regulators in January mostly approved the plan but required some tweaks to fair housing and inventory analysis, officials said.

The city for its third draft added more analysis on smaller sites, an estimated number of housing units in need of replacement and more information and community feedback from fair housing assessments.

Officials changed a previous version of the plan to add parcels in more affluent areas, like East Long Beach, following state feedback and criticism from community members who said affordable housing should be more widespread.

Councilman Rex Richardson said Long Beach needs to plan for growth that includes all residents, but finding funding for more affordable housing will continue to be a challenge without a dedicated source of revenue.

“We’re squeezing as much blood from the turnip as we can, but the truth is, we can’t compete with the scale that’s needed to keep things affordable,” he said. “We have a lot more work to do.”

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].