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OC Housing Element

County of Orange Housing Element Update 2021-2029

State law requires jurisdictions to adopt and periodically update a General Plan.  The Housing Element is one of the required elements of the County of Orange General Plan and is statutorily required to be updated every 8 years.

The County of Orange is currently updating the Housing Element for the 6th cycle , which covers the planning period from 2021-2029. The Housing Element serves as a policy guide to address the comprehensive housing needs of the unincorporated areas within Orange County. The primary focus of the Housing Element is to ensure decent, safe, and sanitary housing for current and future residents of the unincorporated areas.

Though the statutory deadline is October 15, 2021, recent legislation allows a 120-day grace period for adoption.  As part of the Housing Element Update process, California State Department of Housing and Community Development (State HCD) will review and certify the Housing Element if it is found to comply with State law. 

What is the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA)?

In the Housing Element, the County must identify land that is zoned to permit residential uses in order to meet the County’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation.  Additionally, the County must establish goals, policies, objectives, and implementation programs to meet the existing and projected housing needs of unincorporated County.

State HCD determined the housing need for the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) region (which includes  Imperial, Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties) to be 1,341,827 units for this upcoming 6th cycle. SCAG is then responsible for determining how to allocate this future growth across all cities and counties within the region. The County of Orange is responsible for identifying areas of opportunity to accommodate the existing and projected housing need that is specifically allocated by SCAG. 

In September 2020, SCAG released the draft RHNA allocation for each jurisdiction. The County of Orange’s draft portion of the SCAG’s RHNA for the 2021-2029 Housing Element was 10,381 total units for unincorporated Orange County.  Shortly thereafter, the County of Orange submitted its RHNA appeal to SCAG. 

On January 22, 2021, the SCAG RHNA Appeals Board heard Orange County's appeal presentation regarding a requested reduction from a proposed 10,381 housing units to 5,459 housing units for the 6th RHNA cycle (2021-2029). OC Public Works/OC Development Services staff presented data on methodology, local factors, and changed circumstances as arguments for reducing the County's RHNA allocation. The SCAG Appeals Board had an in-depth discussion on the County's arguments on septic capacity limitations in canyon areas along with limited available land due to annexations. The County's appeal request was ultimately denied by the SCAG Appeals Board; however, two jurisdictions within the SCAG region received a reduction of RHNA units.  Consequently, the successfully appealed units will be redistributed proportionally back to the SCAG region, including Orange County jurisdictions. On February 26, 2020, SCAG/RHNA Appeals Board recommended that the Community, Economic and Human Development (CEHD) Committee recommend that the Regional Council adopt the Final RHNA Allocation Plan.   

On March 4,  2021, the SCAG Regional Council adopted the 6th Cycle Final Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) Allocation Plan, which assigns housing need for each jurisdiction in the SCAG region for the October 2021 through October 2029 planning period.  The County of Orange’s RHNA is 10,406 units.  This allocation of units is further broken down into the following income categories:

 Income Category   Units
 Very Low (50% AMI and below)  3,139
 Low (50% - 80% AMI)  1,866
 Moderate Income (80% to 120% AMI)  2,040
 Above Moderate (120% AMI and above)   3,361
 TOTAL   10,406

It is important to note that the County is required to identify areas with adequate zoning to accommodate this future growth, but is not required to develop these housing units. 

Important Documents 


The public comment period for the First Draft was held between September 17, 2021 to October 15, 2021. Public comments received as of October 21, 2021 can be viewed by clicking here.

  1. Introduction 
  2. Community Profile 
  3. Constraints
  4. Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing 
  5. Housing Resources 
  6. Housing Action Plan 
  7. Appendix A (Evaluation of the 2013-2021 Housing Element)
  8. Appendix B (Land Inventory)
  9. Appendix C (Public Participation Summary)



  1. County of Orange 2021-2029 Housing Element Update (Second Draft, Clean Version) picture_as_pdf
  2. County of Orange 2021-2029 Housing Element Update (Second Draft, Strikethroughs) picture_as_pdf
  3. Public Comments received as of October 21, 2021picture_as_pdf
CEQA Initial Study/Negative Declaration for Housing-Related Updates to the County of Orange General Plan and Comprehensive Zoning Code - New

Please submit written comments by August 10, 2022, to the person listed below:

Kevin Shannon, Consultant – Environmental Planner
OC Public Works – Development Services/Planning
601 N. Ross Street, Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 667-1632| email

Upcoming Workshops and Public Hearings:

Online Community Survey

Helpful Links


For more information about the County of Orange’s Housing Element, please email email

OC Public Works/OC Development Services
601 N. Ross Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701
phone (714) 667-8815