Hayward Housing and Climate Update

About the Project

The City of Hayward is updating key elements of the City’s General Plan and we want to hear from you! This website provides all the information you will need to stay up to date and provide feedback on the Hayward Housing and Climate Update, including upcoming community workshops, City public meetings, reports and resources, and other opportunities.

Hayward General Plan. The City’s General Plan is the long-term blueprint that sets the vision for improving the quality of life for all Hayward community members, including guiding housing and job growth within city limits and influencing the City’s annual budget process. The General Plan covers the following topics:

  • Land Use
  • Housing
  • Hazards
  • Community Safety
  • Mobility
  • Economic Development
  • Natural Resources
  • Education
  • Community Health
  • Facilities/Services

    Housing Element

    The Housing Element is a policy guide that illustrates the need for housing in the community. It focuses on the availability, affordability, and adequacy of housing. State law requires that housing elements are updated every eight years. Hayward last updated its housing element in 2014 and is now due for an update.

    Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing

    Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) seeks to combat housing discrimination, eliminate racial bias, undo historic patterns of segregation, and lift barriers that restrict access to foster inclusive communities and achieve racial equity, fair housing choice, and opportunity for all Californians. Government policies, exclusionary tactics, and discriminatory treatment have long been key components of the housing system which encouraged racist development across cities and counties. For decades, systematic redlining, restrictive covenants in private land sales, and residential segregation restricted many groups, particularly communities of color, from accessing opportunity and meaningful fair housing choice.

    To address these circumstances, Congress established the Fair Housing Act in 1968 to prohibit discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, and national origin. Over time the law expanded its protections to include discrimination based on sex, disability, and familial status. The law also introduced the need to go beyond just prohibiting discrimination to instead creating real housing choices by affirmatively furthering fair housing.

    Hazards Element

    The overall purpose of the Hazards Element is to minimize the potential for damage and injury resulting from environmental hazards. The State Government Code requires that the Element identify and evaluate the hazards that are present and establish appropriate goals, policies, and action programs to reduce those hazards to acceptable levels. Basically, environmental hazards determine where new housing can be built.

    New Environmental Justice Element

    As part of the City’s update to their General Plan, a new chapter addressing environmental justice will be included. Environmental justice is defined by the State as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of people of all races, cultures, and incomes as part of the development and implementation of environmental laws and policies. The new chapter will include policies that look to reduce harm to communities in Hayward that have been historically marginalized by institutions and society.

    Climate Action Plan

    The purpose of the Climate Action Plan is to make Hayward a more environmentally and socially sustainable community by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Hayward’s original Climate Action Plan was adopted by the City Council in 2009 and then incorporated into the City’s General Plan in 2014. The 2009 and 2014 versions focused on how the City would achieve its 2020 greenhouse gas emission target. The new, updated Climate Action Plan will focus on how the City will achieve its 2030 greenhouse gas emission target and put the City on a path to carbon neutrality by 2045.


    How is this project different than the Hayward 2040 General Plan?

    The Hayward 2040 General Plan was a comprehensive update including updated the Land Use Element that resulted in changes to land use designations. Land use designations establish allowed uses (commercial, residential, etc.) and allowed densities (number of units allowed per acre of land). The Housing Element Update is intended to demonstrate how the City will accommodate housing demand, and also include policies and programs related to updates to the Safety Element and the new Environmental Justice Element. The project also includes an update to the Climate Action Plan, which will outline the programs, policies, and strategies to meet the City’s 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target and put the City on a pathway to reach carbon neutrality by 2045.

    Why update the Climate Action Plan, Housing Element, and Safety Element, and draft a new Environmental Justice Element?

    California State law requires that the City of Hayward update the Housing Element every eight years. These frequent updates are required because housing is critical to ensure economic prosperity and quality of life in our region. The revised Housing Element must be adopted by the Hayward City Council no later than January 2023, or the City of Hayward could lose eligibility for significant sources of funding currently provided by the State.

    The Hayward 2040 General Plan, adopted in 2014, identified policies and programs needed to achieve the City’s 2020 greenhouse gas emission target. The updated Climate Action Plan will focus on how the City will achieve its 2030 greenhouse gas emission target and put the City on a path to carbon neutrality by 2045.

    Safety elements are now required to be updated at the same time as Housing Elements.

    State law requires that when communities update two or more elements of the General Plan, an Environmental Justice Element must be prepared if there are disadvantaged communities present in the community. Disadvantaged communities are neighborhoods with low-income households that are exposed to pollution (e.g., freeways, landfills).

    What is included in a Housing Element?

    The Housing Element is a housing plan that identifies policies and programs the City will implement to meet housing demand.

    Housing Element components are largely dictated by the State. The following chapters must be included:

      • A detailed analysis of the City’s demographic, economic and housing characteristics.
      • A comprehensive analysis of constraints to producing and preserving housing.
      • A review of the City’s progress in implementing current housing policies and programs.
      • Identification of goals, objectives, and policies, in addition to a full list of programs that will implement the vision of the plan.
      • A list of sites that could accommodate new housing, demonstrating the City’s ability to meet the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA).

    Because the Housing Element is updated frequently, the City of Hayward’s existing element provides a foundation for this update. This update gives the City an opportunity to evaluate the previous element and determine which parts have been effective and which should be improved. Read the 2015-2023 Housing Element for more information on existing policies and programs.

    For more information, please view the Housing Element page!


    What is “affordable” housing?

    The City is required to facilitate the production of housing that is affordable to households across various income levels. These income categories are defined by the state and are based on varying percentages of the Area Median Income (AMI), in which earning 30% of AMI is considered extremely low income, 50% of AMI is considered very low income. 80% of AMI is considered low income and between 80-120% is considered moderate income. For each income category, housing is considered “affordable” if occupants pay no more than 30% of their income on housing costs.

    The chart below shows 2020 income limits and affordable rents for a family of four in Alameda County as set by the State. Extremely Low is income up to 30% of the Alameda County median income.

    Family of 4 Persons Income Limit Affordable Rent
    Extremely Low Income $41,100 $1,192
    Very Low Income $68,500 $1,987
    Low Income $109,600 $3,180
    Moderate Income $125,600 $3,974


    What is RHNA?

    RHNA stands for “Regional Housing Needs Assessment.”

    Every eight years, the State of California provides the number of housing units that should be accommodated in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) takes that larger number and devises a methodology to allocate the units among the ABAG region. As part of the Housing Element, Hayward must demonstrate to the State that there is available capacity for the units allocated to the city.

    This year the regional allocation, and therefore the Hayward allocation, was significantly larger than it has been in past years. This larger allocation was a result of the State responding to the housing crisis by considering “existing need” (i.e., units we need to alleviated challenges, like overcrowding and homelessness) and “projected need” (i.e., units we need to accommodate new residents). The allocation also takes affordability into account by identifying the percentage of units that are needed at each income level, including very low, low, moderate, and above moderate incomes.

    The RHNA allocation for Hayward, as released by ABAG in May 2021 is 4,624 units.

    Income Type Number of Units
    Very Low Income 1,075
    Low 617
    Moderate 817
    Above Moderate 2,115
    TOTAL 4,624

    Visit the ABAG website for more information on RHNA and the RHNA allocation process.

    Will updating the Housing Element and meeting RHNA result in new housing construction?

    Housing construction will be solely reliant on the private market. Through the RHNA process, the City must establish the regulatory framework and implement policies and programs to allow for and even incentivize a certain amount of housing construction should private developers and homeowners seek to build new housing in the city. As part of the Housing Element update, properties that can accommodate future residential development will be identified in the housing sites inventory for purposes of meeting the RHNA. However, identification of a properties’ capacity to accommodate new housing does not guarantee that construction will occur on that site. If there are insufficient sites and capacity to meet the RHNA allocation, then the Housing Element is required to identify sites that need to be rezoned to allow for more residential units to increase housing capacity.

    Will the City be changing the zoning or densities allowed?

    The City is in the early stages of the Housing Element, but initial analysis shows some zoning changes may be needed. The City is not required to build housing as part of the Housing Element, but rather, show capacity for the private sector to build required housing units. The City’s role in meeting the RHNA is to ensure that enough land is zoned to accommodate the units identified in the RHNA. The City accounts for housing potential on vacant and underutilized land that is currently zoned residential or residential mixed-use before changing zoning or densities in Hayward.

    What are the benefits of updating the Housing Element?

    State law gives the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) the authority to review local Housing Elements and issue findings regarding the elements’ compliance with the law. When HCD issues a letter stating that the Housing Element is “in compliance” it is referred to as “certification” of the Housing Element. Certification is important for several reasons:

      • Local control. The General Plan and its various elements provide the foundation for the City’s planning programs and land use regulations. If the City were challenged in court regarding the validity of the General Plan or zoning regulations, and the General Plan were found to be invalid, a court could assume control over local land use decisions. HCD certification establishes a “rebuttable presumption of validity” that the Housing Element is adequate under state law, which would support the City’s legal defense.
      • More frequent Housing Element updates. When a city does not adopt its Housing Element within the established time frame, subsequent updates must be completed on a four-year schedule rather than an eight-year schedule. A four-year update requirement would create an administrative and cost burden.
      • Grant funds. Some state grant funds are contingent upon Housing Element certification or give a higher priority to those jurisdictions with a certified Housing Element.
      • Enforcement and Litigation Exposure. Per State law, cities are required to adopt a compliant Housing Element, and failure to do so could result in the State pursing enforcement action against a non-compliant city.
    How can I get involved in the Housing and Climate Update process?

    Please sign up to be notified of the next meeting or opportunity for online input. The success of this update requires extensive community input and engagement. There will be multiple opportunities to participate throughout the update, both in-person and online.

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