2023-2031 Housing Element Update

The City of Menlo Park is updating its required Housing Element and Safety Element, and preparing a new Environmental Justice Element. Collectively, these are referred to as the "Housing Element Update."

Upcoming City Council meeting

The City Council will consider the recommendations of the Planning Commission and Housing Commission at this virtual meeting and identify a preferred land use scenario to meet the City’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) as part of the state-mandated Housing Element.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021
5 p.m.
View the agenda and join via Zoom

What is a Housing Element Update?

Housing Elements are housing plans that are one part of the General Plan – a guide to all the ways each city, town or county is planned and managed, from our roads and sidewalks to our parks and neighborhoods. With an update required every eight years by the State of California, this Housing Element update will create a foundation for all the policies and programs related to housing. 

While city governments do not generally build housing themselves, they create the rules that affect where housing can be built, how much and how it is approved. Each jurisdiction’s housing plan needs to help ensure that there will be enough capacity and supportive policies to meet the projected need over the next 10 years.

Why it matters

  • More and more, purchasing a home is out of reach for many while renters face rent prices that are just too high. Just about every city in the region needs more housing, of all types and sizes. 
  • Teachers, firefighters, health care and other essential workers are traveling long distances to work or being forced to relocate to other cities. 
  • Young adults and students - including your children and grandchildren - are unable to purchase homes or even live in the communities they grew up in once they leave their childhood homes. 
  • Communities of color and non-English speakers – who make up the majority of our community members living in overcrowded and unsafe conditions – cannot afford to be near their jobs, school or families.

More housing and more diverse housing choices means

  • Young families can find an affordable starter home.
  • Young adults moving out of their childhood home and into the housing market can stay in the cities they grew up in.
  • Our aging population will have more options for retirement, including downsizing, providing housing for on-site health or home care, and staying in their communities.
  • Workers - teachers, firefighters, health care workers, essential workers - can find homes near job centers (which will reduce traffic!).
  • Your children and grandchildren can stay near you in the communities they feel a part of.
  • More people will have more opportunities, across incomes, to rent or own homes in the places they live, work and love.

What is Environmental Justice?

Environmental justice (EJ) is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.

Fair treatment means no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies.

Meaningful involvement means:

  • People have an opportunity to participate in decisions about activities that may affect their environment and/or health.
  • The public's contribution can influence the regulatory agency's decision.
  • Community concerns will be considered in the decision making process.
  • Decision makers will seek out and facilitate the involvement of those potentially affected.

Why update the Safety Element?

The Safety Element is another part of the General Plan and contains goals and policies to reduce the potential short and long-term risk of loss of life, personal injury, property damage and economic and social dislocation resulting from fire, floods, earthquakes and other hazards.

State law now includes climate risk in the Safety Element. We are updating the Safety Element to incorporate climate adaptation and resiliency strategies, and ways to reduce these risks.

The element will be updated for consistency with other local documents such as the Climate Action Plan and the County's Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, which is currently underway.