Housing Element (Public Hearing Draft, 5/1/13)
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This web-based version of the 2008 Housing Element is an abbreviated version. It includes the Element’s goals, policies and implementation programs. The complete Housing Element is available elsewhere on the City’s website, as are the detailed Housing Element Appendices. In August 2011, the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) certified the 2008 Housing Element as being in full compliance with State housing element law (Article 10.6 of the California Government Code).

The Housing Element is a required component of each city’s General Plan. The Housing Element describes the population characteristics and housing needs of the community, examines opportunities and constraints related to the development and improvement of housing, and sets forth policies and programs to encourage the provision and maintenance of housing for all economic segments of the community.

San Clemente last updated its Housing Element in 2000. State law requires every jurisdiction within the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) region to update the Housing Element in 2008. During the past eight years, housing costs have risen significantly, and the City’s population has risen by one-third. As circumstances change, policies and programs should be reviewed to ensure that the City’s interests are addressed in an effective manner. The 2008 Housing Element contains several noteworthy refinements to the City’s housing policy.

Executive Summary


The process of preparing the 2008 Housing Element was guided by an ad hoc Housing Advisory Committee appointed by the City Council. This seven-member committee was comprised of one City Council member, one Planning Commissioner, one Human Affairs Committee member and four at-large members. The Committee held 5 meetings during the course of the project, all of which were noticed public meetings. Interested citizens and groups were notified and invited to attend all of the Committee meetings.

In addition to the five Committee meetings, a joint Committee-Planning Commission Study Session was held, plus public hearings by the Planning Commission and City Council. Following review of the draft Housing Element by State HCD, three additional hearings were held by the City Council to adopt the final element.


The following three key policy recommendations are reflected in the 2008 Housing Element:

  1. Continuance of the Inclusionary Housing Program

    In the years since the last Housing Element update, housing costs in southern Orange County have risen dramatically. Inclusionary housing is a policy ensuring that a portion of new housing units are reserved for persons of modest means who are essential members of the community – people like teachers, police and fire personnel, health care workers, sales clerks and administrative support staff. San Clemente has had an Inclusionary Housing Program (IHP) since 1980. The IHP is intended to ensure that a portion of new housing units are affordable to working-class residents with incomes up to 50% of the area-wide median income (“AMI”), which is currently about $80,000 per year in Orange County. This program requires that one out of every 25 new units (4%) be reserved for households at the 50% AMI income level. Projects of six or more units are required to participate in the program. These affordable units must be provided either on-site, off-site, or through the payment of an in-lieu fee. These fees are combined with other sources of funds such as redevelopment agency tax increment funds, and are used to assist in providing additional affordable housing opportunities in the city.
  2. Emphasis on incentives rather than regulations

    We believe incentives are preferable to regulations as the means to facilitate the production of housing for all income levels. Although state law requires cities to regulate development in many respects, the 2008 Housing Element emphasizes incentives to encourage the production of lower-cost housing. Among these incentives are modifications to development standards, reduced development fees, expedited permit processing, and direct financial subsidies from in-lieu fees, redevelopment funds and state/federal grant programs.
  3. Increased emphasis on energy-efficient development

    In the years since the last Housing Element update, energy costs have risen dramatically and it has become clear that we must take steps as a society to make more efficient use of our natural resources. While local governments are limited in the impact they can have in this area, there are some significant steps cities can take to support this goal. The Housing Element contains new policies encouraging sustainable design and resource conservation in both new construction and remodeling projects.

The Housing Element is organized into five chapters plus appendices – I. Introduction; II. Housing Needs Assessment; III. Resources; IV. Constraints; and V. Housing Action Plan. Appendix A provides a detailed assessment of the City’s accomplishments toward the policies and objectives of the previously adopted Housing Element. This document is intended to guide City housing policy through October, 2013.*In 2013, the City anticipates updating this Housing Element. The updated Housing Element will establish General Plan housing goals and policies for the period from October 15, 2013 through October 15, 2021.

  • Adopted Housing Element, July 5, 2011 (full text)
  • Housing Element Appendices A-L
  • City Inclusionary Housing Requirements
  • Affordable Housing Overlay Zone
  • Affordable Housing Zone Maps
  • California State Housing and Community Development website (mandatory housing element requirements and State housing programs)

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City of San Clemente
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