BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

          SENATOR ALAN LOWENTHAL, CHAIRMAN               AUTHOR:  ashburn
                                                         VERSION: 4/14/09
          Analysis by: Mark Stivers                      FISCAL:  yes
          Hearing date: April 28, 2009


          Housing elements and the housing needs of persons with autism  
          spectrum disorders


          This bill requires cities and counties to assess and address in  
          their housing elements the housing needs of persons with autism  
          spectrum disorders and requires the Department of Housing and  
          Community Development (HCD) to prepare a statewide report on the  
          housing needs of this population.


          Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) represent a range of complex  
          developmental disabilities that cause problems with social  
          interaction and communication.  Currently, the autism spectrum  
          disorder includes autistic disorder (typical autism), Asperger  
          syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise  
          specified (atypical autism).  Symptoms usually start before age  
          three and can cause delays or problems in many different skills  
          that develop from infancy to adulthood.

          The Planning and Zoning Law requires cities and counties to  
          prepare and adopt a general plan, including a housing element,  
          to guide the future growth of a community.  Following a  
          staggered statutory schedule, cities and counties located within  
          the territory of a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) must  
          revise their housing elements every eight years, and cities and  
          counties in rural non-MPO regions must revise their housing  
          elements every five years.  Before each revision, each community  
          is assigned its fair share of housing for each income category  


          SB 812 (ASHBURN)                                          Page 2


          through the regional housing needs assessment (RHNA) process.  A  
          housing element must identify and analyze existing and projected  
          housing needs, including special housing needs of the elderly,  
          persons with disabilities, large families, farmworkers, families  
          with female heads of households, and households in need of  
          emergency shelter.  A housing element must also identify  
          adequate sites with appropriate zoning to meet its share of the  
          RHNA and ensure that regulatory systems provide opportunities  
          for, and do not unduly constrain, housing development.  Where  
          the inventory of existing sites is inadequate to meet the RHNA  
          or where regulatory systems do constrain housing development,  
          the housing element must contain a program of actions to address  
          these deficiencies.  HCD reviews both draft and adopted housing  
          elements to determine whether or not they are in substantial  
          compliance with the law.  
           This bill  requires a city or county, within its housing element  
          program of actions to address governmental constraints, to  
          assess and address the housing needs of persons with ASD, in  
          consultation with local regional centers, the Area Board on  
          Developmental Disabilities, and other relevant stakeholders.  

          The bill also requires HCD, with the cooperation of the State  
          Department of Developmental Services (DDS), to prepare a report  
          to the Legislature that evaluates and identifies the housing  
          needs of persons who receive services from either DDS or a  
          regional center and who have been diagnosed with an ASD.  


           1.Purpose of the bill  .  According to the author, ASD is the  
            fastest growing serious developmental disability in  
            California.  Whereas regional centers served 4,700 clients  
            with ASD in 1993, the number is now 40,000.  The cost of  
            housing for persons with ASD is expensive, typically costing  
            twice as much as housing for consumers without ASD.  With a  
            growing need, it is critical that the state and local  
            governments analyze and begin planning to meet this need.

           2.Redrafting needed  .  The intent of this bill is to require  
            cities and counties to analyze the special housing needs of  
            persons with ASD and to consult with ASD advocates and service  
            providers when conducting this analysis.  The bill, however,  
            puts these requirements into the portion of housing element  
            law requiring a program of actions to address governmental  
            constraints to new housing development.  The bill's provisions  


          SB 812 (ASHBURN)                                          Page 3


            should instead be split between the existing provisions  
            requiring analysis of other special housing needs and  
            requiring cities and counties to achieve public participation  
            in the drafting of the housing element.  The committee may  
            wish to consider amending the bill to place the requirements  
            in the proper locations.

          POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the Committee before noon on  
                     April 22, 2009)

               SUPPORT:  Housing California

               OPPOSED:  None received.