A recent audit of the state’s new housing quotas raises serious questions about the accuracy of the equation state bureaucrats have used to dictate how many units counties and cities have to approve for construction.

The audit doesn’t question California’s need for housing. But it does raise questions regarding flaws found in the number of units mandated by the state quotas.

State lawmakers who have ordered the mandates and eroded long-standing local control over development decisions need to step in and take a harder look at the facts and formulas used to come up with these quotas.

The state auditor’s office called on the California Department of Housing and Community Development, which has been given the job of carrying out the state Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s marching orders, to improve and correct its processes. The audit of several county and regional housing quotas found that they were flawed, based on inaccurate or outdated jobs/housing, vacancy rate and overcrowding figures.

Marin and the numbers set by the Association of Bay Area Governments were not part of the review because of a legal challenge contesting the quotas handed down by the regional agency.

It is important to note, however, the audit clearly states that correcting the state’s regional housing needs formula may not necessarily mean the mandated quotas are too high; they may be low.

But the more important issue is the public’s confidence in the validity of those numbers.

Most of Marin’s municipalities already tried to challenge ABAG’s calculations, which dictate that the county, as well as its cities and towns, allow for the construction of 14,220 new residences between 2023 and 2031 as their share of meeting regional housing needs and addressing California’s housing crisis.

Their appeals were rejected.

That means officials need to come up with plans to allow for growth – a countywide 11% increase in local housing over the next nine years.

That’s why we are seeing local municipalities opening more sites to potential development; shifting gears from years of having politically frowned on growth.

ABAG and the state, following Sacramento lawmakers’ orders, have concluded that there’s no such thing as communities being already built out.

Municipalities failing to allow more housing face the loss of state funding and developers being able to bypass local planning approvals. The state Attorney General’s Office has established a division dedicated to enforcing the quotas.

Marin’s need for affordable workforce housing is clear. Commute traffic on the 101 and 580 highways, along with congested local arterials, are clear evidence. But the state quotas also press for building market-rate housing, which is not as pressing a need in our county.

In addition, the quotas don’t give credit for the construction of affordable senior housing, which not only meets a Marin and statewide need, but also puts existing housing back on the market for sale or rent.

The quotas also don’t take into account issues such as the risk of wildland fire, limited water resources or traffic. Those are local issues the numbers’ authors expect local leaders to figure out.

State lawmakers need to make sure that the bureaucracies that are carrying out their housing demands are using accurate and updated data on which to base the quotas.

That should be a given.

Unfortunately, the audit shows that it wasn’t the case in the state quotas the report reviewed.

California’s numbers need to be based on accurate and up-to-date figures. Those should be the strong foundation for the state’s housing initiative.

The audit, however, shows that foundation is flawed and shaky.


    Doug Gawoski
    1 DAY AGO
    Traffic on 101 and 580 doesn’t indicate the need for Marin workforce housing. If this commute was mainly caused by Marin workers, it should be equally as bad in both morning and night. Instead, it appears worse in the afternoon.
    A pronounced backup on northbound 101 to 580 east occured after the toll booth configuration was changed on the Richmond /San Rafael and GG Bridges. Highways 101 and 580 are a short cut through Marin for east bay and delta residents working in San Francisco and the peninsula to avoid Bay Bridge traffic. The afternoon commute through Marin has no tolls while the morning commute along the same route has two bridge tolls.

    Blue Eyes
    2 DAYS AGO
    “California’s numbers need to be based on accurate and up-to-date figures. … The audit, however, shows that foundation is flawed and shaky.”
    IJ Editorial Board, right on. Any action steps to suggest? Spotswood suggested a few days ago that towns and county sort of just rebel.

    2 DAYS AGO
    It is incumbent upon all entities in marin county to defy this unlawful usurpation of local control amd challenge the validity of the underlying “data”. Part of this challenge should be a thorough investigation into communications between developers and their lobbyists, and the government hacks who created these bogus numbers.

    Blue Eyes
    2 DAYS AGO
    Reply to dougryan999
    Doug, agreed, considering Plan Bay Area estimates that Marin over the next 30 years will have a net job loss of 13,000 jobs (mostly retail). Housing needs to be added where the job growth is projected… to cut commute pollution.