BILL ANALYSIS SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE BILL NO: SB 812 SENATOR ALAN LOWENTHAL, CHAIRMAN AUTHOR: ashburn VERSION: 4/14/09 Analysis by: Mark Stivers FISCAL: yes Hearing date: April 28, 2009 SUBJECT: Housing elements and the housing needs of persons with autism spectrum disorders DESCRIPTION: 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. ANALYSIS: 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. COMMENTS: 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 Wednesday, April 22, 2009) SUPPORT: Housing California OPPOSED: None received.