Yes, all California municipalities are required by Article 10.6 of the Government Code (Sections 65580-65590) to adopt housing elements as part of their general plans. Housing element law, enacted in 1969, mandates that local governments adequately plan to meet the existing and projected regional housing needs of all economic segments of the community.
The housing element law is the State’s primary market-based strategy to increase housing supply, affordability, and choice. The law recognizes that 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. By law, every jurisdiction must plan for its fair share of new housing for all income segments of the community.
The housing element process begins with the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and Department of Finance (DOF) identifying the total housing need for the San Francisco Bay Area for an eight-year period. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) then distributes this need to local governments based on a methodology developed by representatives of the nine County Bay region and adopted by the ABAG Executive Board.. The methodology considered existing local General Plans, projected job growth, transit locations, and other factors. As a result, housing policy in the State rests largely upon the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements. Housing element law also requires the HCD to review local housing elements for compliance with State law and to report its written findings to the local government.
Los Gatos was required to plan for 619 housing units per State law.