Lawmakers greenlight housing element audit

May 15, 2024

By Jason Rhine, director of legislative affairs

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved Sen. Steve Glazer’s request to audit the state's housing element review process. The move — strongly supported by Cal Cities — comes as more cities raise concerns about the timeliness, consistency, and fairness of the process.

“If we are going to require cities to uphold many state standards in their housing plans, the state must provide clear and consistent guidance to cities,” Sen. Glazer said yesterday in a press release. “This audit will help provide legislative insight and scrutiny of the work of this important housing department.”

Cities have been working diligently to update their housing plans to account for much larger housing goals, as well as new programs and strategies mandated by new laws — often to great success. However, many cities have also faced significant challenges when submitting their housing plans to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

According to Sen. Glazer, the audit will include:

  • A determination of how clear HCD’s standards and regulations are for housing elements.
  • An assessment of how responsive HCD has been to local governments.
  • A measure of how many different reviewers evaluate a jurisdiction’s housing element.
  • A determination of the consistency of HCD’s comments and reviews.
  • An evaluation of the clarity of HCD’s feedback.
  • An assessment of how HCD communicates housing element submission deadlines to local governments.

Cal Cities will continue to work with Sen. Glazer to identify shortcomings with the housing element process and much-needed reforms. The State Auditor’s Office will start the audit this fall. More information about the audit process, including estimated timelines, is available online.