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Report · February 2003

California’s Housing Element Law: The Issue of Local Noncompliance

Paul Lewis

This report examines which types of California cities tend to be out of compliance with the state’s housing element law. It also tests whether that noncompliance can be linked to lower levels of new housing production. Although the results indicate that noncompliant cities tend to match a particular profile, the report finds no strong connection between noncompliance and the underproduction of new housing-even of multifamily housing, which tends to be more affordable than single-family homes. After reviewing the experiences of other states with similar approaches, the author concludes that the time is ripe for policymakers and affected interest groups to seek a more workable, transparent, and straightforward housing policy.