Attorney General Bonta, Newsom Administration Reach Agreement with City of Coronado for Compliance with State’s Housing Element Law

Friday, October 20, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Coronado to update housing plan by April 2024 for development of 912 additional housing units  

SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Rob Bonta, California Governor Gavin Newsom, California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Director Gustavo Velasquez and the City of Coronado today announced an agreement enabling the city to reach compliance with the state’s Housing Element Law. The city will adopt a plan by April 16, 2024 to allow for the development of 912 housing units, with dedicated technical support from the state. The agreement, which is in the form of a stipulated judgment, is related to California’s sixth “housing element update cycle” for the 2021-2029 time period. 

Under the state’s Housing Element Law, every city and county in California must periodically update its housing plan to meet its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), or share of the regional and statewide housing needs. Located in San Diego County, Coronado was required to update its housing plan by April 15, 2021 to accommodate its 912-unit RHNA target. The city submitted a Housing Element Update in 2021, but was not found to substantially comply. After receiving a notice of violation from the state, the city and state conferred in good faith to chart a course for the city to attain compliance. 

“The Los Angeles Times said that Coronado ‘might be California’s biggest violator of affordable housing law.’ Today’s settlement puts an end to that distinction,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. "The City of Coronado has wisely chosen to collaborate with us and confront its housing challenges head on. There's no question that this moment is long overdue — I want to thank the current Coronado City Council for finally doing the right thing. The housing crisis we are facing in California is enormous, and the only way we can tackle it is if every local government follows the law and builds its fair share of housing. Today should serve as a valuable lesson to counties and cities across the state: No matter your situation, state leaders are willing and able to help you deliver housing for all of your residents. If we could get it done in Coronado, an island city where a military base and a port sits on more than half of it, we can get it done elsewhere, too."  

“Every single city and county in the state will be held accountable for building their fair share of housing,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “The state is doing more than ever to streamline construction, and we will continue working with communities to build more housing, faster in order to support Californians.” 

“All California communities must take seriously their responsibility to facilitate housing development at all income levels through the housing element process, and HCD is here to help. But when local jurisdictions miss their housing element deadlines, HCD must enforce the law and hold them accountable,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “We are glad to see the City of Coronado commit to bringing their housing element into compliance with Housing Element Law. HCD will continue to work with the City, and monitor them, to ensure compliance and hold them to the commitments they have made in this settlement.” 

"This agreement provides the City of Coronado the certainty and State support necessary to attain a compliant Housing Element," said Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey.  "Grappling with a RHNA allocation that is much greater than in prior cycles, the combined creativity of the City and State was brought to bear for this workable solution. With a shared goal of developing a meaningful and achievable plan to reach compliance, we’ve found resolution to a years-long challenge."

Among other things, a compliant housing element must include an assessment of housing needs, an inventory of resources and constraints relevant to meeting those needs, and a program to implement the policies, goals, and objectives of the housing element. Once the housing element is adopted, it is implemented through zoning ordinances and other actions that put its objectives into effect and facilitate the construction of new homes for Californians at all income levels. 

The housing element is a crucial tool for building housing for moderate-, low-, and very low-income Californians and redressing historical redlining and disinvestment. State income limits for what constitutes moderate-, low-, and very low-income Californians vary by county and can be found here. In San Diego County, the median income for a one-person household is $81,750. A one-person household that earns less than $77,200 is defined as low-income, and a one-person household that earns less than $48,250 is defined as very-low income. 

Under the settlement:

  • Coronado will adopt a compliant housing element by no later than April 16, 2024. The housing element process is typically lengthy — for example, local governments must meet certain public participation requirements and HCD must review every local government’s housing element to determine whether it complies with state law and provides written findings back to each local government — but Coronado has agreed to an expedited timeline and ensuring the public’s participation.
  • Coronado must modify its zoning code and local coastal plan by May 7, 2024 in order to meet the housing targets set forth in its compliant housing element.
  • HCD agrees that the 374 planned housing units on the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado can be credited towards Coronado’s RHNA, based on the Navy’s current plans. The 374 units will meet both the Health and Safety Code section 17958.1 definition of an “efficiency unit” and census definition of “separate living quarters.” 
  • Coronado agrees to comply with the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing statute (AFFH). AFFH requires local governments to take meaningful actions that overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities, free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected characteristics. 
  • HCD will assist Coronado in using best efforts to ensure that the city’s local coastal plan amendments regarding its updated housing element will be certified expeditiously by the California Coastal Commission.
  • Coronado acknowledges that, until the time it adopts a substantially compliant housing element, it will not deny housing projects on the basis of zoning or general plan inconsistencies.
  • If Coronado fails to abide by the settlement and does not cure its default, it may lose its authority to approve or deny certain types of development, or be ordered to take specific actions that maximize its ability to fulfill its RHNA obligations, with an emphasis on facilitating homes for households earning below the area median income. Additionally, monetary penalties will be imposed if Coronado remains noncompliant 12 months after the effective date of the stipulated judgment.

A copy of the petition and signed judgment can be found here and here, respectively.

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