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Planning for the Future

The population of California (like the rest of the world) is growing. In order to ensure there is enough housing for everyone to live affordably, the State of California determines projected population numbers then estimates how many housing units must be created to meet future housing demand.

The State then calls upon cities to help, allocating each city a number of housing units they must create to support the growing population (this is known as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation - RHNA, pronounced “Ree-na” for short).

The State is currently in the process of finalizing the 2023-2031 RHNA, the number of housing units that will be allotted to us here in Petaluma for these years.

Below is a list of upcoming major milestones in the RHNA process:

  • Late Spring 2021: ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) will adopt a Final RHNA Methodology and release Draft Allocations.
  • Summer and Fall 2021: Release of the Draft Allocations kicks off the period in which a local jurisdiction or HCD can submit an appeal to ABAG requesting a change to any Bay Area jurisdiction’s allocation. Requirements for the appeals process are outlined in Government Code Section 65584.05 and ABAG will be releasing more detailed guidance in early summer.
  • Late 2021: The ABAG Executive Board will adopt Final Allocations, taking into consideration the results of the appeals process. This final adoption will also include a public hearing.
  • January 2023: Housing Element updates are due to HCD (California Department of Housing & Community Development).

CLICK HERE for more information on the RHNA process. A timeline is outlined on page 7.

Why are we building new houses if we're in a drought?

The population of California (like the rest of the world) is growing. In order to ensure there is enough housing for everyone to live affordably, the State of California determines projected population numbers then estimates how many housing units must be created to meet the housing demand. The State then calls upon cities to help, allocating each city a number of housing units they must create to support the growing population (this is known as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation). 

Simply put, Petaluma, like all other cities in California, is required by the State to create housing units. The number of units changes as the State’s population projections change, but we must always follow their direction or we run the risk of the State revoking our land use powers – which would mean the State could decide what can and cannot be built here. 

Petaluma’s General Plan and Urban Water Management Plan help us project and prepare for future water use, including use associated with new housing units. We plan far in advance and have back-up plans in place for droughts, which is a recurring condition in our region. Some of these back-up plans include calling on our community to help conserve water, expanding treatment and distribution of recycled water, and reliance on groundwater supplies when surface water allocations are curtailed. 

Furthermore, to assure that the City of Petaluma has sufficient water supplies to meet increased water demand, the General Plan (Petaluma’s roadmap for growth) requires routine monitoring of water supplies against actual use and evaluation for each new development project (Policy 8-P-4). 

Additionally, all new development is subject to the latest building code standards, which require water efficiency for indoor and outdoor water uses. The City also imposes a Landscape Water Use Efficiency Ordinance, which minimizes water use for irrigation.   

We are currently updating our 2020 Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP). You can view our Final 2015 UWMP and the Draft 2020 UWMP and Water Shortage Contingency here: City of Petaluma Water Delivery and Quality – Learn More. 

The City Council will hold a public hearing on May 17, 2021 to receive public comment on the updated Draft 2020 UWMP.

Planning for the future house
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