The 6th Cycle Housing Element Update (2023-2031) will identify where and how the City will accommodate existing and projected future housing needs. This page will be the center of online activity and residents are encouraged to visit frequently to engage in the process, provide feedback, find key documents, see upcoming meeting dates, and learn other information. It will be updated regularly throughout the Housing Element Update process, which will end in December 2023.
Make sure to subscribe to stay informed and receive the latest information on the update process. If you have questions about the site, please be sure to read through the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section.
We're on this housing journey together and we encourage everyone to get involved as we move forward.
HCD 90-Day Initial Review Complete
On September 15, 2023, the HCD Initial Draft Housing Element was submitted to Housing and Community Development (HCD) for a 90-day initial review.
On December 14, 2023, the City received a 90-day Initial Review Letter from HCD. The letter acknowledges that many statutory requirements were addressed in the draft housing element, however, revisions are necessary to comply with State Housing Element Law.
To review the HCD 90-Day Initial Review Letter and for next steps in the process, please click the button below.
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.
What is a General Plan?
All properties and land uses in the City are governed by the City's General Plan. The General Plan describes the long-term goals for the City’s future and guides daily decision-making. The General Plan is a roadmap to the future that encompasses the hopes, aspirations, values and dreams of the community. The Plan contains the City’s official policies on land use and community design, transportation, housing, environmental resources and health and safety. In addition to the policies in the General Plan, different areas of the city have specific plan regulations that are applicable to them.
Find more information on what a General Plan consists of here: https://opr.ca.gov/planning/general-plan/
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 seven elements of the Ceres General Plan, it is required to be updated every eight years. The City last updated its General Plan in 2018.
According to Government Code 65583, 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 eight-year housing cycle to meet Ceres’ 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 zoning?
Zoning is a set of rules and regulations regarding a number of aspects, including building heights, setbacks, landscaping, parking, and fences. Ceres has 27 zoning districts, which include the following:
- Agricultural zone (A)
- Residential agricultural zone (R-A)
- Single-family residential zone (R-1)
- Two-family residential zone (R-2)
- Medium density residential zone (R-3)
- Medium high density residential zone (R-4)
- High density residential zone (R-5)
- Low density residential zone (Mitchell Road Corridor Specific Plan) (RL-7)
- Medium density residential zone (Mitchell Road Corridor Specific Plan) (RM-15)
- High density residential zone (Mitchell Road Corridor Specific Plan) (RH-25)
- Community facility zone (C-F)
- Planned community zone (PC)
- Industrial park zone (Mitchell Road Corridor Specific Plan) (IP)
- Light industrial zone (M-1)
- General industrial zone (M-2)
- Administrative professional zone (A-P)
- Neighborhood commercial zone (C-1)
- Community commercial zone (C-2)
- Service commercial zone (C-3)
- Highway commercial zone (H-1)
- Community commercial zone (CC)
- Highway commercial zone (HC)
- Regional commercial zone (RC)
- Mixed use zone 1 (Mitchell Road Corridor Specific Plan) (MX-1)
- Mixed use zone 2 (Mitchell Road Corridor Specific Plan) (MX–2)
- Airport overlay zone (A-O)
- Historic preservation zone (H-P)
(Ord. No. 2020-1059 , § 1, 3-23-2020)
Your zoning district determines what can be built on your property and which uses are allowed on your property.
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:
- Eligibility for critical State and Federal funds;
- Preservation of 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 of losing local land use control, including the City’s ability to issue building permits and keep its 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
- More open to legal action and challenges of its General Plan.
- This legal action could come from developers, housing advocates, and California’s Department of Housing and Community Development.
What does this current Housing Element update cover?
Ceres is in the process of updating the Housing Element of the General Plan for the planning period between January 2023 through December 2031. Under State Law, every city and county in California is required to update its Housing Element to address specific requirements per Government Code 65583 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 all people 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 Ceres.
This data and analysis will provide the basis for a comprehensive set of policies to address current and future housing needs.
Who determines Ceres’ housing needs?
The Housing Element Update is how the City addresses its assigned fair share of regional housing needs. 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 Stanislaus Council of Governments (StanCOG), determines the total housing need for the 2023-2031 period. StanCOG then determines the housing allocation for each of its 10 jurisdictions. This update of the Housing Element must identify enough land zoned to accommodate the City's RHNA of 3,361 units.
Why did Ceres’ RHNA increase so much for the 6th cycle?
Due to California’s housing crisis, HCD has expanded its identification of a region’s total housing need to account for unmet existing needs in addition to projected housing needs. To identify unmet existing needs, HCD takes into consideration overcrowded households, cost burdened households, and vacancy rates. This has resulted in substantially greater increases in RHNA for the 6th Cycle Housing Element Update.
How many housing units do we need?
Over the next eight years, Ceres must plan for 3,361 housing units which are broken down by income groups, as shown in the following table:
# of Units
Extremely Low (0-30% AMI)
Very Low (30-50% AMI)
Low (50-80% AMI)
Moderate (80-120% AMI)
Above Moderate (over 120% AMI)
Note: AMI stands for Area Median Income level, which is based on specific data for the County. Extremely Low-Income (0-30% AMI) is a subset of Very Low-Income assumed as 50 percent. The City of Ceres’ Very Low-Income allocation is a total of 706 units, assuming 50 percent will be allocated toward Extremely Low-Income units.
Is Ceres required to build the housing assigned?
No, cities are not required to build housing units. Housing construction is still driven by the private market. The City’s role is to ensure that sufficient land is available and appropriate zoning standards are in place to accommodate the RHNA. If current zoning standards cannot accommodate the RHNA, the city must designate new sites by amending existing General Plan and Zoning designations.
How can I get involved?
The update process provides a variety of opportunities for community involvement, including:
- Participating in housing surveys;
- Attending community workshops (in person or virtually);
- Providing feedback on demographics and existing conditions;
- Reviewing potential housing sites and providing feedback; and
- Attending public hearings.
Why does my participation matter?
The State of California has declared a 'housing supply crisis' and holds all local communities accountable for a portion of the housing need, regardless of available land capacity. Your participation is essential to creating a plan that represents Ceres’ core values while meeting regional and state-mandated housing goals. Local power resides in discovering how Ceres will meet these state requirements.
As part of the Housing Element Update, we are asking 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.
Join the Conversation!
The City of Ceres is in the process of the 6th Cycle Housing Element Update and welcomes input from Ceres residents, employees, business owners, property owners, unhoused community members, and individuals who are interested in living in the City. By participating, you will help the City incorporate your ideas into the housing policy update. Please share this survey with interested parties.
Housing Elements 101
The 2023-2031 Housing Element Update
The Housing Element is one of the City’s General Plan required elements (chapters). It is a comprehensive policy document that identifies where, how, and the amount of housing the City of Ceres needs to plan for to accommodate existing and projected housing needs for people of all income groups. In accordance with current State law, Ceres must update its Housing Element every eight years. The Housing Element was last updated in 2014 and was referred to as the 5th cycle Housing Element Update and covered the period between 2014 and 2023. The current update is commonly referred to as the 6th Cycle Housing Element Update.
The Housing Element will plan for the types and number of homes the City needs by 2031, as defined as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). Per state law, the Stanislaus Council of Governments shows a need for 3,361 housing units for Ceres. While the City of Ceres is not required to build this number of homes, the goals policies, programs, and objectives in the housing element will guide the city’s housing growth to meet the RHNA and related housing needs. The City expects that the 3,361 new housing units can be accommodated through past housing element sites and new locations. With your participation and input, we will plan for this growth while minimizing impacts on Ceres’ unique culture and environment.
Per Government Code 65583, the Housing Element update must include, at the minimum, the following sections:
- An analysis of the City’s housing needs;
- An inventory of housing sites to accommodate future growth;
- An analysis of housing constraints that impact housing production;
- Programs that implement the City's housing policies; and
- Actions that promote and further fair housing opportunities.
The draft update will be reviewed for certification by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: The Importance of AB 686
To combat a history of racial housing discrimination, segregation, and unequal access to opportunity, the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968. The Fair Housing Act prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) disability status, 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 AB 686 in 2018 attempts to address these persistent inequities. For more information on AFFH and AB 686 you may refer to the following resources:
The purpose of this board is to act as an online forum for members of the public to share creative and unique ways for Ceres to meet its allocated 3,361 new housing units. Help us gain an understanding of what you’d like to see in your community. Ideas can be short and sweet… Think of it as pinning sticky notes for fellow and future neighbors to see and relate to! (max 140 characters).
12 July, 2023
11 July, 2023