The State of California’s main tool for housing planning is legislation mandating a “Housing Element” as a component of all cities’ and counties’ comprehensive plans. Each local jurisdiction must demonstrate how it can meet the state’s calculated “Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). The article traces the roots of this state requirement from an earlier Regional Housing Allocation Model (RHAM), which was merely a guideline. To ensure compliance, the legislature barred courts from intervening in the RHNA process. Nevertheless, it has taken four decades for California’s local jurisdictions to adopt legally adequate Housing Elements.

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