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Development Services

San Juan Capistrano General Plan Element Update

Housing Element Update


Posted January 6, 2022.  Planning Commission Public Hearing January 19, 2022.


Posted September 22, 2021.  Comments to the Public Review Draft were to be submitted by November 22, 2021.


The Housing Element is one of ten State-required Elements of the City’s General Plan. The Housing Element identifies policies and programs (to be implemented during an 8-year planning period) to meet existing and projected housing needs for all segments of the San Juan Capistrano community, including various household types, special needs populations, and all income levels in the City.

The Housing Element provides an in-depth analysis of the City’s population, economic, and housing stock characteristics as well as a comprehensive evaluation of programs and regulations related to housing. Through this evaluation and analysis, the City identifies priority goals, polices, and programs that directly address the housing needs of the City’s current and future residents. Key features of the City’s Housing Element include:

  • Population and housing profile of San Juan Capistrano
  • Evaluation of housing constraints and resources
  • Evaluation of existing housing programs and policies
  • Identification of appropriate sites to accommodate housing at all income levels quantified through the state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA)
  • Policies, programs and quantified objectives


The Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) is mandated by State Housing Law to be part of the process in updating General Plan Housing Elements. The State Department of Housing and Community Development identifies a Statewide projected housing need and apportions that need to each metropolitan area in the State.

The City of San Juan Capistrano is located in the Southern California Association of Government (SCAG) region. SCAG adopted the final RHNA allocation plan on March 4, 2021 and distributed a RHNA allocation to each jurisdiction in its region, including San Juan Capistrano. For the 2021-2029 planning period, the City of San Juan Capistrano’s RHNA is 1,054 housing units. This means that the City’s Housing Element must be updated to identify “adequate sites” and set forth policies and programs that will accommodate this estimated growth over the next eight years. Although the City is required to provide the programs, policies and zoning to incentivize and allow for this growth, as well as report to the State annually as to its progress, the City is not required to produce, construct or develop these units itself.

Importance of Updating the Housing Element:

Housing Elements must be updated every 8 years to ensure communities are able to accommodate anticipated housing growth and meet state regulations. The City is required by State law to adopt an updated and state compliant Housing Element by October 2021. State Law provides a 120-day grace period after the October 2021 deadline, which may be used to finalize Housing Elements.  Having a state compliant Housing Element:

  • Allows the City to be eligible for State grants and funding sources
  • Demonstrates the City’s ability to meet future housing growth needs
  • Allows the community to further engage in the planning process
  • Avoids state penalties, avoids triggering certain state housing laws that limit local control and avoids possible litigation from special interest groups 
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