This page includes resources for the Housing Element Update process and related plans and websites.
This section contains published documents related to the Housing, Safety, and Environmental Justice Element Updates.
Newsletter #1: Housing Element Overview
Newsletter #1 describes what a housing element is, how and why it is being updated, the project schedule, and how to get involved in the update process.
Click here or click the image to download a copy.
This section contains frequently asked questions about the Housing, Environmental Justices, and Safety Element Updates.
Housing Elements are typically organized into the following parts:
As a part of updating the Housing Element, the City will reorganize or add new sections to emphasize pertinent planning issues and respond to new State laws that have been passed since the current Housing Element was adopted.
Since 1969, California has required that all local governments (cities and counties) adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. California’s local governments meet this requirement by adopting housing plans as part of their “general plan” (also required by the state). General plans serve as a local government’s "blueprint" for how the city and/or county will grow and develop and include eight elements: land use, transportation, conservation, noise, open space, safety, environmental justice (if disadvantaged communities are identified), and housing. The law mandating that housing be included as an element of each jurisdiction’s general plan is known as “housing element law.”
California’s housing element law acknowledges that, in order for the private market to adequately address the housing needs and demand of Californians, local governments must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for (and do not unduly constrain), housing development. As a result, housing policy in California rests largely upon the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has the critical role of reviewing every local government’s housing element to determine whether it complies with State law and then submits written findings back to each local government. HCD must certify the housing element before the City can adopt it as part of its overall General Plan.
HCD review for this Housing Element Update is scheduled to take place in Summer 2023.
The Environmental Justice Element identifies disadvantaged communities in the City and includes policies and programs to address the following topics:
An important part of the Environmental Justice Element is providing public engagement and outreach opportunities, especially in disadvantaged communities, to promote participation in the planning process.
Safety Elements typically include an assessment of potential risks and feasible mitigation policies and programs for the following topics:
Feasibile mitigation measures may include disaster and emergency preparedness (e.g., emergency shelters, evacuation routes, emergency shelters), education and communication, development regulations, or additional studies.
In addition to the Housing Element Update, the City will also be updating the Safety Element of the General Plan and preparing a new Environmental Justice Element to align with the updated Housing Element. Both Elements are required by State law to be updated (or prepared) when one or more General Plan Elements are adopted.
The City will update the Safety Element background information, associated maps, and regulatory context for the following topics: soils, seismic, and other geologic hazards;flood hazards; fire hazards; hazardous materials and waste; aircraft hazards; and emergency response. The Safety Element will also be updated to discuss how it aligns with other General Plan elements, including the updated Housing Element. The Safety Element Update will include a Vulnerability Assessment and a Safety Element Policy Memorandum.
The City will prepare the Environmental Justice Element to include the goals, policies, and implementation programs in the following areas to promote healthy, diverse, and equitable communities: racial and social justice, environmental justice, and civic engagement in the public decision-making process.
Using the information and data gathered during the the Update process, the Housing Element Team will conduct an environmental analysis and prepare the necessary and appropriate documentation to meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
CEQA review of the Housing Element is scheduled to take place between September and October 2023.
The updated Housing Element, Safety Element, and Environmental Justice Element are all anticipated to go the Planning Commission and City Council for adoption between October and December 2023.
The Housing Element Update is being developed by City staff with direction from the City Council and input from the Planning Commission and the community. The development of the Housing Element Update is being lead by City staff from the Planning Department.
To assist in the development of the Update, the City has also hired a team of advanced planning specialists that include community planners and technical specialists:
There will be several opportunities to get involved with the Housing Element Update process and provide your input!
Provide your email address to stay up to date on meetings and key milestones. The Housing Element Team will send out timely emails throughout the process regarding upcoming events, workshops, meetings, and project documents.
Click the orange "Join eMail List" tab on the right edge of the screen to sign up.
Brandon Smith, Principal Planner
City of Visalia Planning Department
315 E. Acequia Avenue
Visalia, CA 93291