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Help shape the future of Monte Sereno

The 6th Cycle Housing Element Update (2023-2031) is a pivotal opportunity to shape the future of Monte Sereno. We're on this housing journey together and everyone is encouraged to have a say in how we move forward.

This site is the go-to place to easily engage and provide feedback, find updated key documents, see upcoming meeting dates and times, and learn other information. Please subscribe to stay informed and receive the latest information on the update process.

Public Notice:

Second Revised Draft Housing Element Submitted to Housing and Community Development

On July 25, 2023, the City submitted its second Revised Draft Housing Element to HCD for review. This draft includes revisions based on comments received from HCD in the March 31, 2023 Findings/Comment Letter.

The seven-day public notice period was from July 13, 2023 through July 20, 2023. Comments can still be provided to the City of Monte Sereno by emailing

Second Revised Draft Housing Element Submitted to Housing and Community Development

On July 25, 2023, the City submitted its second Revised Draft Housing Element to HCD for review. This draft includes revisions based on comments received from HCD in the March 31, 2023 Findings/Comment Letter.

Seven-Day Public Review of the Draft Revised Housing Element

On July 11, 2023 the City Council reviewed the revised draft 2023-2031 Housing Element which includes revisions based on comments received from the California Department of Housing and Community Development on March 31, 2023. The revised draft Housing Element is being made available for a seven-day public comment period from July 13, 2023 to July 20, 2023. Comments can be provided to the City of Monte Sereno by emailing

Revised Housing Element – Third Submittal Document

On July 11, 2023 the City Council will discuss the revised Housing Element, which includes revisions made to address the most recent comments received from HCD. The meeting agenda, staff report, and revised Housing Element are available online at:

Submittal of Adopted Housing Element

As of January 24, 2023 a revised HCD Housing Element Draft is now available to the public for a seven (7) day review period prior to HCD re-submittal per State law. Please find both a track changed copy and a clean copy of the HCD Second Review Housing Element Draft below.

On January 17, 2022, the City Council held a meeting to discuss and review HCD comments on the Preliminary Draft Housing Element.

City staff and the City's housing element consultants have prepared a revised document in response to HCD comments, which will be presented at the Joint Site and Architectural Committee and City Council meeting scheduled for January 31, 2023. This meeting also includes consideration of adoption of the 6th Cycle Housing Element Update.

On March 31, 2023, a comment letter was received from HCD.

Draft Housing Element

On Tuesday, October 11, 2022 the City submitted the 6th Cycle Housing Element Update Preliminary Draft to HCD for the initial 90-day review period. The City reviewed all public comments to the Draft and made revisions as appropriate prior to HCD submittal for its preliminary review.

On January 9, 2023, a comment letter was received from HCD.

Public Review Draft Housing Element

On Monday, August 8, 2022 the City released the Public Review Draft Housing Element for a 30-day public comment period. The public comment period ended on Wednesday, September 7, 2022 at 5PM PST. City staff and the housing element consultants reviewed public comments and incorporated revisions as appropriate prior to HCD submittal of a preliminary draft.

What is a Housing Element?

A state-mandated policy document that identifies where and how cities will accommodate existing and projected future housing needs for people of all income groups. As one of 7 elements of the Monte Sereno General Plan(External link), it is required to be updated every eight years.

According to State Law, a Housing Element must:

  • Provide goals, policies, quantified objectives, and scheduled programs to preserve, improve, and develop housing;
  • Identify and analyze existing and projected housing needs for all economic segments of the community;
  • Identify adequate sites zoned and available within the 8-year housing cycle to meet Monte Sereno's fair share of regional housing needs at all income levels;
  • Be certified (approved) by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) as complying with State Law; and
  • Be internally consistent with other parts of the General Plan.

What is included in the Update Process?

The update process provides a variety of opportunities for the community to be involved, including:

  • Housing surveys;
  • Virtual community workshops;
  • Demographic and existing conditions review;
  • Potential site review; and
  • Public hearings.

How many units do we need?

Regional Housing Needs Allocation (6th Cycle 2023-2031)

The Housing Element Update is how the City addresses its assigned fair share of regional housing. This fair share is determined through a Regional Needs Allocation (RHNA) process. The State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), with input from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), determines the total housing need for the 2023-2031 period. ABAG then determines the housing allocation for each Bay Area City and County. This update of the Housing Element must identify enough land zoned to accommodate the City's RHNA allocation of 193 units.

Monte Sereno's allocation of 193 units is broken down by income groups, and is shown in the table as follows:

Income Group

# of Units

Very Low (0-50% AMI)


Low (50-80% AMI)


Moderate (80-120% AMI)


Above Moderate (120%+ AMI)




Note: AMI stands for Area Median Income level, which is based on specific data for the county.

Why do we need a housing element?

The need for every city and county in California to plan for their 'fair share' of the projected housing need is based in Housing Element Law, enacted in 1969 (Government Code Section 65583). The concept behind the law is that, in order for the private development market to adequately address housing demand, local governments must adopt housing plans that provide opportunities for – and not unduly constrain – housing development.

Having a certified Housing Element ensures:

  • Monte Sereno is eligible for critical State and Federal funds;
  • Local land use control; and
  • Eligibility for State-administered funding for roads, sewer, parks, housing, and planning.

Without a certified Housing Element, the City is:

  • At risk to lose local land use control, including the ability to issue building permits and zoning authority;
  • Responsible for accommodating an increased number of housing units;
  • Ineligible for various State-administered funds for roads, sewer, parking, housing, and planning; and
  • Vulnerable to legal challenge of its General Plan.

What does this update cover?

The City of Monte Sereno is in the process of updating the Housing Element of the General Plan for the planning period between 2023 through 2031. Under State Law, every city and county in California is required to update its Housing Element to address specific requirements and submit the Element to the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for certification.

The Housing Element provides the plan to meet the housing needs of our residents at all economic levels, and address segments of the population with special housing needs. The Housing Element will include:

  • An assessment of the unique characteristics of the City’s population;
  • An inventory of sites suitable for residential development;
  • An assessment of financial and program resources; and
  • An analysis of constraints to housing production in Monte Sereno.

This data and analysis will provide the basis for a comprehensive set of policies to address current and future housing needs.

As part of the Housing Element Update, we are asking for the community to provide input regarding housing priorities and challenges. Participation from our residents is vital to ensure our community’s values are identified and articulated in the Housing Element and the City’s approach provides the best fit for our community’s goals, values, and priorities.

What was the result of the Council's appeal of the RHNA numbers?

The City's appeal was officially denied and the City's RHNA number remains at 193 housing units.

The City of Monte Sereno submitted an appeal to ABAG, and the City’s hearing in front of ABAG Administrative Committee was heard on October 22nd. City Council made an argument to reduce the number of housing units allocated to the City of Monte Sereno. The Administrative Committee's Preliminary Action was to deny the appeal. The final RHNA number was released in December of 2021: Monte Sereno's appeal was officially denied and the City's RHNA number remains at 193 housing units.

Is Monte Sereno required to build the housing assigned?

Under current state law, cities are not required to build housing units. Housing construction is still driven by the private market. Instead, a city is required to ensure that sufficient land and appropriate zoning standards are available to accommodate all assigned units. To do so, cities must determine whether the current zoning standards can accommodate its RHNA assignment. If not, then the city is required to designate new sites for this purpose – usually through amending the General Plan and Zoning designations.

What happens if a city does not adopt a housing element or if the housing element does not comply with state law?

The penalties for non-compliance have increased in scope and severity over the past few legislative cycles, and they currently include:
Limited access to state funding, including transportation funding for local roadway maintenance and capital improvement projects; Court imposed fines of up to $600,000 per month. The statute also allows the state to collect these fines by withholding state funding due to the city.

Lawsuits: When a community's housing element is found to be out of compliance, its General Plan is at risk of being deemed inadequate and therefore invalid, opening the possibility for lawsuits.
Consequences of lawsuits include:

  • Court mandated compliance
  • Court suspension of local control on building matters, freezing the community’s ability to issue building permits, zoning changes, etc.
  • Court approval of housing developments on behalf of the community Attorney fees associated with the lawsuit

Over the past 20 years, cities and counties throughout the Bay Area (including Corte Madera, Pittsburg, Pleasanton, Alameda, Benicia, Fremont, Rohnert Park, Menlo Park, Napa County, and Santa Rosa) have faced legal challenges to the adequacy of their housing elements. In virtually every case, the city settled by amending their housing element and/or zoning ordinance to accommodate more housing and paid the plaintiffs’ attorneys fees. Each of these cases were filed prior to the most recent amendments to the state housing law which make it exceedingly more difficult for cities to win such cases.

What good is my participation?

The State of California has declared a 'housing supply crisis' and holds all local communities accountable for accommodating an assigned housing target, regardless of available land capacity. Your participation is essential to creating a plan that represents Monte Sereno's core values while meeting regional and state-mandated housing goals.

There is much to learn from each other on this journey towards 6th Cycle Housing Element Update certification.

For a deeper dive into details and more information, click on the links below or the folders located to the right for information from the following sources:

We'll continue to update this page throughout the process with any new information.

Stay Informed, Participate

Your participation is essential. Help us create a plan that reflects Monte Sereno 's core values as they relate to housing, in a manner that is consistent with state law.

  • Vote for or share a photo of your favorite ADU or secondary housing unit in Monte Sereno to inform the sites inventory.
  • Interested in building an ADU or secondary housing unit on your property? Interested in learning more? Please fill out our Property Owner Interest Form(External link).
  • Be sure to spread the word and share this At Home in Monte Sereno website with your neighbors so they can join the conversation too.

Housing Element Basics

The 2023-2031 Housing Element Update

The Housing Element is part of the City’s General Plan’s Elements(External link). It is a comprehensive policy document that identifies where, how, and how much housing Monte Sereno is mandated to plan for to accommodate existing and projected future housing needs for people of all income groups. In accordance with State law, the City of Monte Sereno must update its Housing Element every 8 years. This is the sixth time the City will have updated its Housing Element and may also be referred to as the 6th Cycle Housing Element Update.

In the 2023-2031 6th Cycle update, the City is required to plan for an additional 193 new housing units. With roughly 3,500 residents living in an area of 1.6 square miles with all residential zoning, the City expects that the 193 new housing units can mostly be accommodated through Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and other secondary housing units. With your participation and input – we will plan for this growth while minimizing impacts on Monte Sereno’s unique culture and character.

The Housing Element update must include, at the minimum, the following sections:

  1. An analysis of housing needs of the City's population;
  2. An inventory of housing sites to accommodate future growth;
  3. An analysis of housing constraints that impact housing production;
  4. Programs that implement the City's housing policies; and
  5. Actions that promote and further fair housing opportunities.

The draft update for this will be reviewed for certification by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

The Importance of AB686

To combat a history of racial housing discrimination, segregation, and unequal access to opportunity, the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968, which prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status. However, in the nearly 50 years since the Fair Housing Act was enacted, housing inequality, lack of access to opportunity, and racial and socio-economic segregation have persisted.

The passing of Assembly Bill 686 (AB686) in 2018 attempts to address persistent inequities and defines Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) as: “taking meaningful actions, in addition to combating discrimination, that overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected characteristics.”

To show that Monte Sereno is taking these meaningful actions and comply with AB686, the following components are required to be addressed in the Housing Element Update:

  1. Fair Housing Outreach and Enforcement
  2. Segregation and Integration Patterns
  3. Disparities in Access to Opportunity
  4. Disproportionate Housing Need and Displacement