California Government Code Section 65302(c) mandates that each city include a Housing Element in its General Plan. The Housing Element is required to identify and analyze existing and project-ed housing needs and include statements of the city’s goals, policies, quantified objectives and scheduled programs for preservation, improvement, and development of housing. Each city, in adopting its Housing Element, must consider economic, environmental, and fiscal factors, as well as community goals as set forth in the General Plan, in compliance with California Government Code Section 65580 et. seq.
SETTING AND GENERAL PLANNING EFFORTS
The City of Fairfield is located in central Solano County in the Bay Area within the California Coastal Ranges at the southwestern edge of the Sacramento Valley, just north of the Suisun Bay and salt marsh (Figure 1). The Planning Area encompasses 278 square miles including the City of Fairfield (approximately 41 square miles) and its Sphere of Influence (SOI) (approximately 11 square miles) which is generally coterminous with City boundary but includes a handful of areas surrounding the city limits, with the largest section located in the northeast area of the city limits, adjacent to Travis Air Force Base (Figure 2).
Fairfield’s existing General Plan was adopted in 2002 and is now being reexamined to ensure that it reflects the City’s goals and priorities for the next 30 years. Fairfield Forward 2050 is the name of the City’s update of its General Plan. The update process is a collaborative effort between the City and the community to create a vision and a blueprint for development and investment over the next couple of decades. More information regarding the General Plan update can be found on the project’s website at www.fairfieldforward.com.
This project is a General Plan Amendment to update the City of Fairfield (City) Housing Element for the planning period of 2023-2031 (hereafter, HEU). The proposed HEU is available at the city website, https://www.fairfieldforward.com/housing-element.
The Fairfield Forward 2050 project could not have a significant effect on the environment and thus a Negative Declaration was prepared in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Although implementation of the programs contained in the document would accommodate development required to meet the City's RHNA allocation, the HEU does not identify, describe, promote, entitle, or permit any particular residential development project. The act of adopting the updated HEU does not, therefore, have the potential to result in environmental impacts, either limited or cumulative, affecting habitat; plant or animal communities; rare, endangered, or threatened species; historic resources; or human beings.
REGIONAL HOUSING NEEDS ALLOCATION (RHNA)
Consistent with state law, the HEU provides a plan to accommodate the City’s fair share of affordable housing known as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation, or RHNA. The RHNA is allocated to each region of the state by the California Department of Housing and Community Development in consultation with regional council of governments. Typically, a region’s council of governments prepares the RHNA methodology for all its member jurisdictions, however, Government Code Section 65584.03 allows for “…at least two or more cities and a county, or counties, to form a subregional entity for the purpose of allocation of the subregion’s existing and projected need for housing among its members…” For the 6th Cycle RHNA, all seven incorporated cities and unincorporated Solano County chose to form a subregional entity for which they designated the City County Coordinating Council (4Cs) to serve as the representative body. For the 2023-2031 housing cycle, Solano County has been assigned a RHNA of 10,992 housing units with Fairfield receiving an allocation of 3,069 units at five income levels (Extremely Low, Very Low, Low, Moderate, and Above Moderate).
While current zoning within the City’s specific plan areas permit higher densities (ranging from 8 to 80 dwelling units in the Heart of Fairfield Specific Plan area, and up to 50 dwelling units per acre in the Train Station Specific Plan area) and some commercial areas with Mixed Commercial zoning permit 32-50 dwelling units per acre, the HEU includes actions to spur infill on smaller lots in these areas and revise zoning in selected nonresidential zones to allow higher density housing and affirmatively further fair housing. To affirmatively further fair housing in more moderately-resourced areas, the City will rezone seven parcels in the Cordelia area and east of Oliver Road, a shown in Figure C-6 of the Housing Element. These sites currently allow housing conditionally, with the exception of the site near the college, and will be rezoned to allow housing by right. The remainder of sites utilize Fairfield’s existing land use and zoning classifications.
Through implementation of the housing programs, potential housing sites were identified in the Sites Inventory to show the City’s ability to accommodate its RHNA allocation. Specifically, the HEU identifies that there are sufficient housing sites to accommodate its share of affordable housing through its inventory of potential housing sites located within vacant and underutilized non-vacant opportunity sites which promote infill development and are served by adequate infrastructure. The housing sites have been identified as part of the City’s coordinated planning actions underway for the comprehensive update of the City’s General Plan, which envisions new development concentrated in the downtown core (the Heart of Fairfield Specific Plan Area), near the Fairfield Train Station (Train Station Specific Plan area), near the Fairfield Transportation Center, along key corridors such as North Texas Street, and other infill areas throughout the City. These areas will contain a mix of uses around major streets with good access to transit and will include housing, employment, and neighborhood commercial uses.
The HEU demonstrates that through implementation of the housing programs there will be sufficient housing sites to accommodate the City’s fair share of affordable housing especially along commercial corridors, in specific plan areas, and infill sites where there are no infrastructure deficiencies. These sites will allow residential development with expected densities ranging from 15 to 64 dwelling units per acre. Affordable housing development in these target areas will be enhanced through the City’s actions to create sustainable revenue streams for affordable housing; in-fill housing and small-lot development incentives; development of design standards for ‘missing middle’ housing; permitting of sites included in prior cycles to develop with affordable housing by right; and rezoning to allow higher densities on certain parcels in areas that are more moderately resourced.