State law requires cities to demonstrate through their General Plan and zoning that they have adequate capacity for additional housing units to provide their share of regional housing needs. This capacity is documented in the General Plan Housing Element and is required for the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to certify a Housing Element as meeting the requirements of state law.
The deadline for HCD certification of the 5th Cycle Housing Element was October 2013. HCD did not certify Westlake Village’s 5th Cycle Housing Element until 2020 following the City Council’s adoption of the Specific Plan. Westlake Village was among the last cities in California to obtain HCD certification of its 5th Cycle Housing Element and was out of compliance with state law for nearly seven years from 2013 to 2020. During this time, the City was vulnerable to lawsuits by developers and housing advocacy groups, and ineligible for certain state grants and funding. If the City Council had not adopted the Specific Plan, or if the allowance for residential development had been removed from the Specific Plan, the City would have had to rezone other locations to allow for additional residential development to obtain HCD certification of the 5th Cycle Housing Element.
The City began preparing the 6th Cycle Housing Element immediately following HCD certification of the 5th Cycle Housing Element because the 5th Cycle Housing Element was certified seven years into the eight-year planning cycle. The housing sites identified for the 5th Cycle were adequate to demonstrate capacity for the City’s share of regional housing needs for the 6th Cycle, so the City was not required to identify additional housing sites beyond those already included in the approved Specific Plan. As such, the City proceeded with preparing the 6th Cycle Housing Element to receive HCD certification by the October 2021 deadline.