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How we graded every city, county in California – Orange County Register

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Cities and counties in California are required to plan for adequate housing across income affordability levels. Most are doing so — but many fewer are meeting their goals to actually get those homes built.

The Southern California News Group has graded every jurisdiction on the progress it’s making toward those state-mandated housing goals.

Through a process known as the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, or RHNA, each jurisdiction is given a target for how many permits to issue in four categories: very low income (affordable to those who earn half or less of the area’s median income), low income (51-80% of median), moderate income (81-120% of median) and above moderate income (more than 120% of median).

SCNG’s grades are based on how close jurisdictions are to being on track through the end of 2018 — the latest data available from annual progress reports that they’re supposed to file to the state — depending on how far they are into their current RHNA cycle.

Most of Southern California is in a RHNA cycle that runs from late 2013 to late 2021. So a city that is supposed to permit 80 low-income homes by 2021 would need to have issued at least 50 permits by 2018 to be fully on track. If it had issued 25, it would be 50% on track.

Here’s how each category grade was assigned:

  • 100% or better on track = A / 4 points
  • 75-99% on track = B / 3 points
  • 50-74% on track = C / 2 points
  • 1-49% on track = D / 1 point
  • 0 units built = F / 0 points

Bonus points could be earned for prioritizing what’s needed most, showing improvement and degree of difficulty:

  • Jurisdictions got a 1-point bonus for being at least 90% on track in each of the lower-income categories, and a half-point bonus for being at least 90% on track in the moderate category.
  • Jurisdictions got a half-point bonus if they weren’t fully on track in a category but improved their score by at least 25 percentage points from 2017.
  • Jurisdictions asked to increase their total housing stock by at least 10% over their 2013 levels got a half-point bonus for being at least 50% on track and a full point for being fully on track.

The overall grade comes from adding up the category scores and bonus points, then dividing by the number of categories (not always four; a few weren’t asked to permit any at higher income levels). The grade-point averages corresponded to these letter grades:

  • A+: 4.33 or higher
  • A: 4-4.32
  • A-: 3.67-3.99
  • B+: 3.33-3.66
  • B: 3-3.32
  • B-: 2.67-2.99
  • C+: 2.33-2.66
  • C: 2-2.32
  • C-: 1.67-1.99
  • D+: 1.33-1.66
  • D: 1-1.32
  • D-: 0.67-0.99
  • F: below 0.67

Some caveats: Since some jurisdictions didn’t report their progress to the state by this year’s deadline (and some have never filed a report), they could be doing better than their grades reflect.

Also, the state data that the scorecard is based on may not reflect changes in housing goals due to annexations.


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Jeff Stearman

Jeff has experienced much success in his many years as a Realtor, consistently ranking in the Top 1% of Realtors nationally as well as the Top Agent locally. Jeff also has an MBA and Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI) designation and is Certified Short Sale Specialist and Distressed Property Negotiator and Expert. Jeff has a firm grasp on today’s real estate market and is an expert in all areas of residential real estate, including: traditional sales, residential income properties, vacation properties, luxury homes, as well as distressed properties. Additionally, with his background in mortgage & financial consulting, Jeff can help you understand the numbers side of real estate and offer valuable advice on the different types of home loans and financing options that you could take advantage of. His clients say: "If you want something done, ask a busy Realtor.” The Stearman Group has successfully sold over 3,000 homes because they carefully work with their clients to create successful solutions. They strive to solve your individual housing needs-one client at a time. His team gives only the Best Personalized Service to each of their clients every single time.

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