State Housing Element Requirements

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State involvement with housing elements stems from the State Legislature's findings that California is in a housing crisis and not enough housing is being produced for the anticipated population growth.  Because a shortage of housing could lead to overcrowding, long commutes, and difficulty obtaining labor, the State has found that it has an overriding interest in ensuring that sufficient housing is produced.

As a result, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) reviews every local housing element for conformity with State law.  There are many requirements in State law for housing elements, which are set forth in Government Code Section 65580 et seq.  One of these requirements is that each jurisdiction needs to plan for its share of housing.  That share is called the Regional Housing Needs Allocation  (RHNA).

Portola Valley's RHNA for the eight years from 2014-2022 is one of the lowest in San Mateo County, at a total of 64 housing units.  Of these, 13 are for above-moderate income households; 15 are for moderate-income households; 15 are for low-income households, and 21 are for very low-income households.  It is important to note that State law requires the Town to plan for and encourage construction of these housing units, but the Town does not have to build the housing.  In the past, second units have been the Town's most important source of housing for households with moderate incomes or below, and that program is expected to continue.

The following links provide additional information about State requirements and the RHNA process:

California Department of Housing and Community Development
California Government Code - Housing Elements
ABAG Regional Housing Needs Allocation


State law also requires that the Town complies with Fair Housing laws. To this end, Portola Valley along with the County of San Mateo, contract with Project Sentinel to handle complaints of discrimination in the sale or rental of housing and for the mediation of tenant/landlord disputes. Complaints and requests (in English o Español) can be made to Project Sentinel at this number: (650) 321-6291 ext. 8108.

Fair housing laws prohibit discrimination based on protected characteristics, as described below. More information on each characteristic and fair housing law, in general, can be found on the Project Sentinel website

Federally Protected Characteristics:

  • Race/Color
  • National Origin (Ethnicity)
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Familial Status

California State Protected Characteristics:

  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender Identity & Expression
  • Marital Status
  • Source of Income
  • Age
  • Arbitrary Characteristics