Seal Beach to update California on city’s General Plan with focus on housing

The council received and filed the 2023 Annual General Plan Progress Report at the Monday, March 25 meeting. The council also authorized staff to submit the plan to the California Department of Housing and Community Development and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

This was a Consent Calendar item and was approved without discussion.

“The General Plan is a State-mandated document, which serves as the blueprint for the City of Seal Beach’s development into the future, and is comprised of a series of Elements covering different topics,” according to the staff report by Community Development Director Alexa Smittle.

“While State law requires an annual report on the City’s progress implementing its General Plan, the primary purpose of the APR is to demonstrate progress on the Housing Element,” Smittle wrote.

“The Housing Element defines the City’s strategy to (a) plan for existing and projected housing demand, (b) identify adequate sites to accommodate the City’s allocated share of regional housing needs, and (c) analyze local policies, regulations and requirements that have the potential to constrain development of housing for all income levels,” Smittle wrote.

According to Smittle’s report, the final submission to the HCD and the GOPR will include a spreadsheet about housing activity.

“Seal Beach’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), or the number of housing units the City must prepare for during a Housing Element cycle is 1,243 units for 2021-2029,” Smittle wrote.

As previously reported, California can’t legally force Seal Beach to actually build any of those units and the city can’t legally force property owners to build anything.

“As shown, from January 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023, two net new units were constructed, both of which were accessory dwelling units. The limited net new development is not unusual for Seal Beach, as documented in past annual reports,” Smittle wrote.

“However, the lack of historical production does mean the City is subject to Government Code Section 65913.4, which institutes a streamlined approval process for certain types of housing developments,” Smittle wrote.

“Under the statutory definition of a streamlined review, the City is limited in design review, parking requirements, and timelines,” Smittle wrote.

“Additionally, new State laws adopted in 2023 built upon the prior legislative sessions, reducing the standards that can be applied to housing production including zoning designations and parking requirements,” Smittle wrote.