Housing Element 101

Housing Element

In 1969, the state enacted the Housing Element Law (Government Code Section 65583) which requires all cities and counties to plan for their fair share of the statewide housing need.  The purpose of the law is to ensure that the responsibility of accommodating new housing is equitably distributed among all communities. 

The Housing Element is one of seven state-mandated elements of the Town’s General Plan and is required to contain policies and programs that encourage housing development for a variety of affordability levels.  This is accomplished by providing an adequate number of housing sites, zoned at appropriate densities, to accommodate the projected housing needs and affordability levels established by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (State HCD) for each region. Danville falls within the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) region.  


The foundation for the Housing Element is the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), in which the State estimates each region’s housing needs for all income groups every 5-8 years, referred to as housing ‘cycles’ or ‘planning periods.’  For the upcoming 2022-2030 planning period, the State has determined that the Bay Area must plan for an additional 441,176 new homes.  

ABAG’s RHNA Housing Methodology Committee was charged with the responsibility of recommending how to distribute the region’s total housing target among its cities and counties.  Based on their work, the ABAG Executive Board released the Draft RHNA Methodology Report in January 2021, which proposes that Danville should plan to accommodate approximately 2,241 new homes in the next eight-year cycle.

As part of the RHNA process, this draft allocation is subject to review by State HCD and an appeal process.  These housing allocations are expected to be finalized by summer 2021.    


State laws govern how cities review and approve housing and housing plans. As an example, the process and timelines for updating the Housing Element are prescribed by state law. Additionally, the California state legislature has enacted – and continues to propose – new legislation to facilitate housing construction. While all of these laws focus on spurring housing production, they are not necessarily associated with the housing element update. Learn more in our Housing Legislation section.