Continuing Action – Work to increase the supply and variety of housing types

SANDAG works to increase the supply and variety of housing types by overseeing the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) process, developing and administering grant programs, and supporting jurisdictions in the pursuit of external grant funding.


As the council of governments, SANDAG is responsible for overseeing the RHNA for the San Diego region. In July 2018, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), in consultation with SANDAG, determined that the region needs to plan for 171,685 housing units in the eight-year planning period from 2021–2029. SANDAG conducted extensive outreach with the Board, RHNA Subcommittee, Regional Planning Technical Working Group, housing interest groups, and the public to develop a methodology to allocate the regional housing need among the 19 jurisdictions in the region. In November 2019, the Board approved a methodology that allocated housing units based on the availability of transit and jobs.

The methodology aligns with several beneficial land use planning principles, such as promoting infill development and increasing residential densities. State law requires jurisdictions to zone at higher densities to accommodate their low- and very-low-income housing allocations. As jurisdictions plan for and build housing, the mix of housing types will increase.

Developing and administering grant programs

In January 2020, the Board authorized staff to submit an application to HCD for receipt of an advance allocation of the approximately $6.8 million allocated to SANDAG through the Local Government Planning Support Grants Program, established by California Assembly Bill 101. SANDAG intends to use the grant funds to develop a program that will assist local jurisdictions in meeting their RHNA goals. The advance allocation of $1.7 million will allow SANDAG to procure consultant assistance and engage local jurisdictions and other stakeholders to develop a meaningful housing incentive program for the San Diego region. SANDAG will be required to show how the program meets specific objectives outlined in the legislation, which include developing an education and outreach strategy, identifying current best practices for promoting affordable housing, developing a strategy for increasing adoption of practices at the regional level that accelerate housing production, and assessing the availability of pass-through funding for jurisdictions. Once the program framework is developed and accepted by HCD, SANDAG will be eligible for the remaining $5.1 million. 

SANDAG continues to administer the TransNet Smart Growth Incentive Program (SGIP) and Active Transportation Grant Program (ATGP). These programs provide local jurisdictions with funding to support efforts to increase walking, biking, and transit use throughout the region. The grant programs provide a nexus to housing by funding comprehensive public infrastructure projects and planning activities that facilitate compact, mixed-use, transit-oriented development, and increase housing and transportation choices. Since 2009, through four funding cycles, SANDAG has awarded more than $55 million to support 67 SGIP projects and nearly $29 million to support 85 ATGP projects.

Supporting jurisdictions in the pursuit of external grant funding

SANDAG continues to support jurisdictions applying for grant funds through HCD and the Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program. AHSC is a statewide competitive grant program funded by Cap-and-Trade proceeds that provides funding for housing and transportation projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Over four rounds of funding, the San Diego region has been successful in receiving approximately $77 million in grant funds to support six AHSC projects that include affordable housing development, bike and pedestrian improvements, and transit amenities. In November 2019, HCD and the Strategic Growth Council released the Notice of Funding Availability for the fifth round of funding. Applications are due in February 2020, and awards are anticipated to be announced in June 2020.

Additionally, in 2019, SANDAG hosted workshops with HCD staff and local government representatives to pursue funds under Senate Bill 2 (SB 2) Planning Grants and the Infill Infrastructure Grant (IIG). SB 2 Planning Grants provided one-time funds to help cities and counties accelerate housing production and streamline the approval of housing, especially affordable units. According to HCD, 17 of the region’s 19 jurisdictions applied for SB 2 Planning Grants. The IIG provides grants for capital improvement projects in support of infill development, assisting in overcoming a significant barrier to housing development in existing communities. The State of California Budget included an additional $500 million for the IIG, and awards will be announced in May 2020.