Duarte 2021-2029 Housing Element Update

What's Going On Now? - Housing Element Update

City Council Hearing on January 11, 2022 at 7PM. See Public Notice

In addition to the Draft Housing Element, the City Council will hear related general plan amendments on the Safety Element and an amendment to various Elements of the Duarte General Plan to address Environmental Justice policies.

Draft Housing Element (December 2021) - You can make comments via email prior to the public hearing or make comments at the public hearing. Contact the Planning Department for information on registering for the hearing. This is the draft housing element that was sent to the State Department of Housing and Community Development for its review.

Final IS-ND Duarte Housing Element and Safety Element December 2021  

Submit comments with "Duarte Housing Element Comments" in the subject line to:


Community Workshop #1 Presentation - November 16, 2020
Community Workshop #2 Presentation - March 15, 2021
Community Workshop #3 Presentation - April 26, 2021

Housing Survey Results - Flashvote

Duarte Senior Housing Needs Survey

The Housing Element of the General Plan is a State-mandated policy document that identifies Duarte’s existing and future housing needs and establishes clear goals to inform future housing decisions.  The City’s Housing Element provides goals, policies and programs that address:

  •  Conserving and improving existing housing and neighborhoods

  •   Assisting in development and provision of affordable housing

  •  Providing adequate residential sites to address fair share housing needs

  •  Removing governmental constraints to housing development

  •  Promoting equal housing opportunities, including Duarte’s special needs populations

Duarte’s current Housing Element (5th Cycle) was adopted by the City Council in February 2014 and certified by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). The adopted Housing Element covers the planning period from October 2013 through October 2021. Staff is currently implementing the respective actions and programs for the current planning cycle. The next housing cycle (6th Cycle) will cover the planning period from October 2021 through October 2029, and is required to be adopted by October 15, 2021.  One of the key components of the update is to ensure the City can accommodate the estimated housing growth need identified in the Southern California Association of Government’s (SCAGs) Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation for the 2021-2029 planning period. 


The Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) is mandated by State law to quantify the need for housing throughout the State. This informs the local planning process to address existing and future housing needs resulting from projected state-wide growth in population, employment, and households.

SCAG is responsible for overseeing the RHNA process for the Southern California region, which encompasses six counties (Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura) and 191 cities. SCAG is currently overseeing the 6th cycle RHNA for the 2021-2029 planning period. In August of 2019, the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) issued its final Regional Housing Need Determination to SCAG, stating that the minimum regional housing need for the six county region is 1.3 million new housing units. HCD then directed SCAG to develop a methodology for allocating these units throughout the region, based on statutory guidelines for housing needs and development.

Although not yet finalized, SCAG has allocated Duarte a draft RHNA for the upcoming 2021-2029 planning period for 888 units to accommodate the estimated growth need among the following income levels:

6th RHNA Cycle (2021 -2029) Units Allocated to Duarte

Income Category

Housing Units

Very Low Income (< 50% AMI)


Low Income (51-80% AMI)


Moderate Income (80 – 120% AMI)


Above Moderate (> 120% AMI)




Income Category (% of County AMI)
AMI = Area Median Income for LA County 

One of the important steps in the Housing Element Update process is to identify sites to accommodate this estimated growth at each income level. Choosing sites is completed with a thorough analysis of site-specific constraints, including but not limited to, zoning, size, location, current use, and development potential.

Get Involved!!




There are many ways to get involved in Duarte’s Housing Element update, and we want your participation! Public participation will occur through several means:

· Community-wide workshop

· Comments provided to the City

  • Surveys
  • Planning Commission and City Council Meetings



If you have questions, please contact the Planning Department at (626) 357-7931. We can respond to your questions or place you on a mailing list to get information about upcoming meetings.



1. What is Included in the Housing Element?

The Housing Element is comprised of the following major components:

  • Review of effectiveness of existing Housing Element
  • Assessment of existing and projected housing needs
  • Identification of resources – financial, land, administrative
  • Evaluation of constraints to housing
  • Housing Plan – goals, policies and programs

Results from each of the four key components of the analysis -- review & revise, housing needs, resources, and constraints -- are reflected in the Housing Element’s goals, policies and programs in the implementation plan. The entire process must reflect public participation from the draft stage to final adoption.

2. Why does Duarte have to plan for more housing?

Based on California’s continued population growth, the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) estimates that the state needs upwards of 200,000 housing units per year in order to maintain a healthy housing sector. Currently, the market is producing less than half of that amount. This scarcity has driven California’s housing costs to be the highest in the nation, prohibiting occupations like teachers, nurses, public safety officers and younger professionals the ability to afford owning a home, essential for building a stronger and vibrant economy.

California law requires each city and county to plan for their “fair share” of the State’s housing growth needs. Based on economic and demographic forecasts, the State has determined that the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) region needs to accommodate 1,341,827 housing units between 2021 and 2029 to meet housing demand.

3. How much new housing will Duarte need to plan for in the next 8-year Housing Element cycle?

SCAG has allocated the region’s 1,341,827 housing unit growth needs to each city and county through a process called the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). Duarte’s draft RHNA for the 2021-2029 planning period (6th RHNA cycle) is 886 units, distributed among the following income categories:

Income Level

Percent of Area Median
Income (AMI)

2020 Income

(3 ppl hh)



Very Low















Above Moderate


> $83,500









 The RHNA represents the minimum number of housing units Duarte is required to plan for in its Housing Element by providing “adequate sites” through general plan and zoning.  The State requires that jurisdictions create a sufficient buffer in the Housing Element sites inventory beyond that required by the RHNA to ensure adequate site capacity exists throughout the planning period. 

4. What is the City’s obligation to accommodate its Regional Housing Need (RHNA), and what happens if at the end of the Housing Element cycle if the City falls short of its RHNA goals?

The City’s RHNA represents a planning target and is not a building quota. However, the City must provide sufficient sites, which are realistic and probable for housing development within the prescribed timeframe, and the City cannot impose constraints to development. Otherwise, if the City falls short of its RHNA goals, the City can be penalized. For example, in jurisdictions that did not permit enough housing consistent with RHNA goals for the current (5th Cycle) planning period, residential projects that meet certain conditions may proceed under a streamlined approval process with no public hearings.

5. What was Duarte’s RHNA for the 2014-2021 (5th Cycle) planning period, and how did the City accommodate this need?

The City’s 2014-2021 RHNA was for 337 total new housing units, including 239 affordable units (very low, low and moderate income). The City was able to demonstrate the availability of adequate sites using a combination of the following methods:

  • Already approved residential development projects (having zoning entitlements)

  •  Vacant residentially zoned sites

  •  Gold Line Station Transit Oriented Development

  •  Santa Teresita Senior Housing Community

  •  Residential second units (now referred to as Accessory Dwelling Units)

  •  Housing Authority Properties

Duarte’s residential sites inventory from the above sources provided capacity for up to 657 additional units, including sites suitable for development of 525 lower income units, 10 moderate-income units, and 122 above moderate-income units. During the first six years of the Housing Element (2014-2019), the City issued building permits for a total of 266 new housing units, including 61 units affordable to lower and moderate-income households.

6. How is affordable housing defined?

State and Federal definitions of housing affordability are generally based on the standard of spending no greater than 30% of household income on housing costs, including utility payments, taxes, insurance, homeowner association fees, etc. Affordable housing is relative to the amount households of different income levels and sizes can afford to pay for housing. For example, the 2020 maximum affordable rent for a very-low income, 3-person household (2-bedroom unit) in Los Angeles County is approximately $1,268, whereas affordable rent for a 3-person, low-income household is approximately $2,028.

7. In addition to providing sufficient sites to address the total RHNA, how does the City’s zoning translate to providing adequate sites for each RHNA income category?

Housing Element law provides for the use of “default densities” to assess affordability when evaluating the adequacy of sites to address the RHNA affordability targets. Based on its population within Los Angeles County, Duarte falls within the default density of 30 units per acre for providing sites suitable for development of housing for very low- and low-income households, and 12 units/acre for sites suitable for moderate income households. This is generally consistent with the default density approach that applied when the City updated the Housing Element in 2014, except that for this new 6th RHNA cycle housing sites will need to be designated and zoned with a minimum allowable density at these levels to count toward the associated lower and moderate income categories.

8. What do communities do when they run out of vacant and buildable land?

Communities with little or no remaining vacant land cannot escape RHNA -- they must still update their Housing Element to accommodate the RHNA. In these cases, the Housing Element may evaluate existing developed properties as “underutilized sites”. Such properties may be available for intensification, or they may be non-residential sites with potential for re-designation and redevelopment for housing or mixed-use development. Examples of land with potential for recycling may include fragmented sites suitable for assembly, publicly owned surplus land, areas with mixed-use potential, properties facing substantial functional obsolescence, and blighted areas with abandoned or vacant buildings. Second units (aka “accessory dwelling units”) also provide a means of accommodating additional housing in built-out communities. Under limited circumstances, a portion of the City’s RHNA may be met through conversion of existing market rate apartments to affordable levels; preservation of affordable units at-risk of conversion to market rate; and substantial rehabilitation of substandard apartment units combined with long term affordability covenants.

9. What happens if Duarte does not have its Housing Element certified by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)?

There are a number of potentially significant consequences:

  • Risk of litigation from housing advocacy groups, an aggrieved housing developer, or other entity or person based on the City having a legally inadequate General Plan. If they rule the Housing Element invalid, courts can impose a range of sanctions including placing State HCD into the role of reviewing and approving housing development projects in the City, or having such matters decided ministerially (no hearings) via a court-appointed official; and placing a moratorium on non-residential development and other local land use authorities until the Housing Element is brought into compliance. Furthermore, the jurisdiction is responsible for paying the litigant’s attorney fees. Settlement agreements between the parties often include stipulations for mandatory rezoning and affordable

    housing production requirements.

  •  State housing and related parks and infrastructure grant and loan funds typically require verification of Housing Element compliance for eligibility, so failure to secure an HCD certification can result in a loss of funding.

  •  And where a jurisdiction’s prior Housing Element failed to identify adequate sites to address the RHNA, this unmet RHNA carries over to the next Housing Element, rendering HCD compliance in future housing element cycles tremendously challenging.

AB 72 now expands HCDs enforcement authority to refer non-compliant jurisdictions to the State Attorney General’s Office for litigation, as evidenced by the 2019 lawsuit the State brought against the City of Huntington Beach.