Housing Element

What is a Housing Element?

A Housing Element is how local jurisdictions plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. The Housing Element is one of the required elements of the General Plan. It is an adopted local plan that includes the goals, policies and programs that direct decision-making around housing. Every eight years (referred to as "cycles"), every city, town and county in California must update their Housing Element and have it certified by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). The current 5th Cycle Housing Element plans for the period of 2015 to 2023. A Housing Element typically includes the following components:

  1. Housing Needs Assessment: Demographic, employment and housing trends and conditions that affect the housing needs of the community.
  2. Evaluation of Past Performance: Review of the prior Housing Element to measure progress in implementing it's policies and programs.
  3. Housing Sites Inventory: Identification of available site locations for housing development or redevelopment to ensure there is adequate capacity to address the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).
  4. Community Outreach and Engagement: Implementation of a community outreach and engagement program.
  5. Constraints Analysis: Analysis and recommended remedies for existing and potential barriers to housing development.
  6. Policies and Programs: Establishment of policies and programs to fulfill the identified housing needs.


Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) is the number of new homes each jurisdiction must plan for in their Housing Element. The state of California determines the number of new homes the Bay Area needs to plan for - and how affordable those homes need to be - in order to meet the housing needs of people at all income levels. Following the state's determination, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) then distributes the RHNA allocation to each jurisdiction in the Bay Area. 

6th Cycle Housing Element

The 6th Cycle Housing Element will plan for the period of 2023-2031 and must be adopted by January 2023. On January 21, 2021, the ABAG Executive Board approved the draft RHNA methodology which assigned Orinda 1,359 units to plan for in the 6th Cycle. This is a 499% increase compared to the 227 units that were assigned to Orinda for the 5th Cycle Housing Element. The final RHNA numbers are expected to be approved by the ABAG Executive Board in late 2021.  

On April 20, 2021, the City Council considered the draft Housing Element Request for Proposals (RFP). The Council provided feedback and directed staff to issue the Housing Element RFP.

Request for Proposals

On April 26, 2021, a Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued for a Housing Element and Safety Element update. See the Housing Element RFP page for more detail.

Current Housing Element

5th Cycle Housing Element (2015 - 2023)

Prior Housing Elements