Housing Element Update
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Welcome! This is the community portal for the City of Burbank 2021-2029 Housing Element Update.

In order to address a number of State regulations, the City is going through a process to update the Housing Element of the General Plan, required every 8 years.  The Housing Element update will also include updates to other elements of the Burbank2035 General Plan, including the Safety Element, as well as goals, policies, and objectives to address Environmental Justice within existing elements of the General Plan.

Here you will find an overview of the project, FAQs, project updates, information on upcoming workshops, and related resources and documents. If you would like to receive email updates and get involved, please sign up for our mailing list by clicking here.

Review Draft 2021-2029 Burbank Housing Element and Appendices

Draft 2021 Housing Element PDF

Click here to view the Draft Housing Element.

The Housing Element includes the following sections:

  • Housing Needs Assessment – overview of Burbank demographic trends and housing needs and characteristics;
  • Housing Constraints – analysis of potential constraints (governmental, market, infrastructure, or environmental factors) to the development of housing;
  • Housing Resources – describes and analyzes potential resources available for the development, rehabilitation, and preservation of housing in the City; and
  • Housing Plan – list of housing programs that will continue to be implemented or will be implemented during the 8-year planning cycle to address the City’s identified housing needs.
Appendices PDF

Click here to view the Appendices.

The Appendix document includes the following:

  • Appendix A: Glossary of abbreviation and definitions
  • Appendix B: Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing analysis – pursuant to Assembly Bill 686, beginning January 1, 2019, all housing elements must include a program that promotes and affirmatively furthers fair housing opportunities throughout the community for all persons regardless of race, religion, sex, marital status, ancestry, national origin, color, familial status, or disability, and other characteristics protected by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), California Government Code Section 65008, and any other State and Federal fair housing and planning law.
  • Appendix C: Evaluation of Accomplishments under the current 2014-2021 Housing Element.
  • Appendix D: Housing Element Residential Sites Inventory.
  • Appendix E: Adequate Sites Program Alternative Checklist – under limited circumstances a local government may credit a limited portion of their housing sites requirement through existing units, such as those that will be preserved at levels affordable to low- or very low-income households. The checklist provides guidance in determining eligibility.
  • Appendix F: Community participation summary.


  • November 2021 – The City has released the second draft of Housing Element for public review after incorporating comments from HCD.
    • Over the past 18 months, the City of Burbank has been preparing an update to its General Plan Housing Element for the 2021-2029 planning period. Burbank’s Housing Element identifies strategies and programs that focus on preserving and improving housing and neighborhoods, providing adequate housing sites, assisting in the provision of affordable housing, removing governmental and other constraints to housing investment, and promoting fair and equal housing opportunities.
      The City released the draft 2021-2029 Housing Element for public review in April of this year, and as required under state law, submitted the Element to the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for their review. The City received HCD’s comment letter on August 17, 2021, and over the past several months has been working on revisions to the Element to address HCD’s comments. A revised draft Housing Element is now available for review (linked above). Changes to the April Draft Housing Element are identified in yellow highlight, with changes in the Appendices identified in redline/strike-out. Should you wish to comment on Burbank’s 2021-2029 Housing Element, please send written comments to: Srajesh@burbankca.gov. The public will also have opportunities to provide additional comments on the Housing Element, EIR, and other General Plan elements at the Burbank Planning Board and City Council public hearings targeted for early 2022.
  • June 18, 2021 The City submitted the draft 2021-2029 6th Cycle Housing Element to HCD for their 60-day review. The City is awaiting comments from HCD.
  • Mar. 31, 2021 at 6:00 PM  Environmental Scoping Meeting – Click here for meeting information.
  • Feb. 27, 2021 – Workshop #2: CEQA Scoping Meeting. Recording of the meeting is available to watch below.
  • Feb. 17, 2021  Informational workshop regarding updates to development standards for supportive housing, transitional housing, and emergency shelters in the City (Housing Element implementation). Recording of the meeting is available to watch below.
  • Burbank Housing Element Survey Results  Click here.
  • Oct. 3, 2020  Workshop #1: Burbank’s Plan for Housing Virtual Community Workshop was on Saturday, October 3rd and the recording is available to watch below. Community Workshop Input – Click here.

Virtual Community Workshop #2: CEQA Scoping Meeting (2/27/2021)

Online Workshop: Update to Transitional Housing, Supportive Housing, and Emergency Shelters (2/17/2021) 

Virtual Community Workshop #1: Burbank’s Plan for Housing (10/3/2020)



What is a Housing Element? 

The Housing Element of the General Plan is a State-mandated policy document that identifies Burbank’s existing and future housing needs and establishes clear goals to inform future housing decisions.  The City’s Housing Element provides goals, policies and programs that address:

  • Conserving and improving existing housing
  • Providing sites for a variety of housing types
  • Assisting in the provision of affordable housing
  • Identifying and removing governmental constraints to housing development
  • Promoting equal housing opportunities

Unlike other elements of the General Plan, State law requires the Housing Element to be updated every eight years.  The State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is tasked with reviewing Housing Elements for compliance with State housing laws. The City’s existing 2014-2021 Housing Element remains active until the 2021-2029 update is adopted (with a targeted adoption date of October 2021). The existing Housing Element is available under Project Documents. For Housing Element FAQs click here.

Will there be any other General Plan Updates?

In accordance with State law, the Housing Element Update will require updates to other Elements of the General. The biggest updates will be updates to the Safety Element and the addition of goals and policies to address environmental justice in the City. The goal of the Safety Element is to reduce the potential short and long-term risk of death, injuries, property damage, and economic and social dislocation resulting from fires, floods, droughts, earthquakes, landslides, climate change, and other hazards. Policies in a safety element should identify hazards and emergency response priorities, as well as mitigation through avoidance of hazards by new projects and reduction of risk in developed areas.

As required by Senate Bill 1000, environmental justice will be addressed throughout the General Plan as part of this update process. Environmental Justice goals and policies will be developed by identifying disadvantaged communities and demographics in Burbank, as required by State law. The City will be conducting community outreach to better understand the unique and disproportionate challenges faced by these communities, and this will guide the City’s efforts to address issues related to public health, social equity and environmental justice. Other Elements of Burbank’s General Plan will be updated as needed for consistency with the major Element updates. For more information on SB 1000 and Environmental Justice, please see the General FAQ section, question #3 below.




Multi-unit housing with greenery in the front yard.
Apartment building on the corner of a street.
The front of multiple townhomes.
Apartment building along a street with cars on it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General FAQ

What is a General Plan?

The State of California requires all cities to develop a General Plan. General Plans are comprehensive policy documents that inform future land use decisions. Cities adopt and update their General Plan to guide the current and long-term growth and land development of their community. The General Plan is a foundation for establishing goals, purposes, zoning, and activities permitted on each property to provide compatibility and continuity within a city as a whole and each individual neighborhood.

Burbank2035 (adopted in 2013) is the City of Burbank’s General Plan, a long-term blueprint with policies that guide the City’s development and long term vision. As required by California State law, Burbank2035 is made up of chapters, or “elements”: Land Use, Mobility, Noise, Open Space & Conservation, Safety, Air Quality & Climate Change, and Plan Realization (the last two are optional). In addition, Environmental Justice was added to the list of required General Plan elements; this requirement can also be achieved by incorporating goals, policies and objectives into existing elements. In order to address a number of State regulations, the City is going through a process to update the Housing Element and Safety Element, as well as to address Environmental Justice into existing General Plan elements.


Why is Burbank updating the Housing Elements of the General Plan?

The City is required by State law to update its Housing Element every eight years. Burbank’s current certified 5th cycle Housing Element covers the 2014-2021 planning period. The City is now in the process of updating the 6th cycle Housing Element for the 2021-2029 planning period.

Additionally, the State has enacted significant new guidance and legislation regarding General Plans.  In response to California’s worsening affordable housing crisis, the State legislature has enacted a over a dozen new bills aimed at increasing production, promoting affordability and creating greater accountability for localities, all of which will need to be addressed in the updated Housing Element.   New requirements pertaining to the Safety Element and Environmental Justice include:

  • Climate change adaptation and resiliency (SB 379)
  • Local hazard mitigation plan (AB 2140)
  • Fire hazards and risk (SB 1241)
  • Environmental justice analysis and policies (SB 1000)

The General Plan update will meet all new requirements, while also confirming and clarifying the City’s vision for the future.

What is Environmental Justice? How does it relate to disadvantaged communities?

Per Government Code §65040.12(e), environmental justice is “the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” Environmental justice goals, policies, and objectives must aim to reduce health risks to disadvantaged communities, promote civil engagement, and prioritize the needs of disadvantaged communities.  Disadvantaged communities are either identified by the California Environmental Protection Agency according to Section 39711 of the Health and Safety Code or be an area with household incomes at or below 80 percent of the statewide median income or below the designated threshold defining a low income area and be “disproportionately affected by affected by environmental pollution and other hazards that can lead to negative health effects, exposure, or environmental degradation.”

Housing Element FAQ

What is Included in the Housing Element?

The Housing Element is comprised of the following major components:

  • Review of effectiveness of existing Housing Element
  • Assessment of existing and projected housing needs
  • Identification of resources – financial, land, administrative
  • Evaluation of constraints to housing
  • Housing Plan – goals, policies and programs

Results from each of the four key components of the analysis — review & revise, housing needs, resources, and constraints — are reflected in the goals, policies and programs in the implementation plan. The entire process must reflect public participation from the draft stage to final adoption.

How does the Housing Element relate to Burbank’s Housing Strategy and City Council goals to produce 12,000 new units over the next 15 years?

Burbank’s 2017 Housing Strategy documents patterns of rapid growth in the City’s employment sector and the shortfall in new housing units to keep pace with this growth, contributing to an increase in home prices by almost 50% over the past five years.  Recognizing the need for workforce housing while preserving the single-family residential neighborhoods in the City, the City Council in 2019 established a housing goal to build 12,000 residential units during the next 15 years (2019-2034).

The housing strategies and the level of housing growth needed over the next 15 years, as presented in the City’s Housing Strategy Plan [link to Project Documents where Housing Strategy is located], will be integrated within Burbank’s 2021-2029 Housing Element.  Through its identification of sites for future development and implementing housing programs, the updated Housing Element will lay the foundation for achievement of the City’s goal for 12,000 new units, as well as address the City’s fair share housing needs as quantified in the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). 

Additionally, the State has enacted significant new guidance and legislation regarding General Plans.  In response to California’s worsening affordable housing crisis, the State legislature has enacted a over a dozen new bills aimed at increasing production, promoting affordability and creating greater accountability for localities, all of which will need to be addressed in the updated Housing Element.   New requirements pertaining to the Safety Element and Environmental Justice include:

  • Climate change adaptation and resiliency (SB 379)
  • Local hazard mitigation plan (AB 2140)
  • Fire hazards and risk (SB 1241)
  • Environmental justice analysis and policies (SB 1000)

The General Plan update will meet all new requirements, while also confirming and clarifying the City’s vision for the future.

Why does Burbank have to plan for more housing?

California’s population has continued to grow by approximately 500,000 each year, translating to an annual need for about 220,000 new units. State housing element law requires each city and county to plan for their “fair share” of the State’s housing growth needs through quantity and affordability level.   The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is the regional agency responsible for defining the fair share allocation among its six counties (Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura), and 191 cities in the Southern California region. Based on economic and demographic forecasts, the State has determined that the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) region needs to accommodate 1,341,827 housing units between 2021 and 2029 to meet housing demand. 

How much new housing will Burbank need to plan for in the next 8-year Housing Element cycle?

SCAG has allocated the region’s 1,341,827 housing unit growth needs to each city and county through a process called the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). Burbank’s draft RHNA for the 2021-2029 planning period (6th RHNA cycle) is 8,752 units, distributed among the following income categories[1]:

Income Level Percent of Area Median Income (AMI) Units Percent
Very Low 0-50% AMI 2,546 29%
Low 51-80% AMI 1,415 16%
Moderate 81-120% AMI 1,406 16%
Above Moderate >120% AMI 3,386 39%
Total 8,752 100%


The RHNA represents the minimum number of housing units Burbank is required to plan for in its housing element by providing “adequate sites” through general plan and zoning.  The State requires that jurisdictions create a sufficient buffer in the Housing Element sites inventory beyond that required by the RHNA to ensure adequate site capacity exists throughout the planning period.

The City’s RHNA represents a planning target and is not a building quota.  However, the City must identify sufficient sites to meet the RHNA allocation based on criteria specified in State housing law; those sites must be realistic and probable for housing development within the prescribed timeframe, and the City cannot later impose undue constraints to development of housing, particularly among those sites identified.

[1] https://www.hcd.ca.gov/grants-funding/income-limits/state-and-federal-income-limits/docs/Income-Limits-2020.pdf

What was Burbank’s RHNA for the 2014-2021 (5th Cycle) planning period, and how did the City accommodate this need?

Burbank’s 2014-2021 RHNA was for 2,684 total new housing units, including 1,550 affordable units (very low, low and moderate income).  The City was able to demonstrate the availability of adequate sites using a combination of the following methods:

  • Underdeveloped sites in multi-family zones
  • Mixed Use sites in commercial zones
  • Second residential units (now referred to as Accessory Dwelling Units)

Burbank’s residential sites inventory from the above sources provided capacity for up to 3,306 additional units, including sites suitable for development of 1,487 lower income units, 500 moderate-income units, and 1,319 above moderate-income units.  During the first six years of the Housing Element (2014-2019), the City issued building permits for a total of 501 net new housing units, including 88 units affordable to lower and moderate-income households.

Can sites that remain undeveloped from the existing Housing Element be reused in the sites inventory for the 2021-2029 Housing Element?

Potentially, but recent changes to Housing Element law make this more challenging.  HCD has tightened the parameters for including sites in the Housing Element, requiring substantial additional analysis to justify sites as suitable and available for development within the planning period.  For example:

  • Vacant sites included in the prior two Housing Elements to accommodate lower income households, or non-vacant sites included in the prior Element, cannot be used in future Housing Elements unless: a) the site is zoned to the minimum lower income density thresholds (30 units/acre); and b) zoning allows for development by-right if at least 20% of units are affordable to lower income households.
  • Non-vacant sites, small sites (<0.5 acres), and large sites (>10 acres) are presumed to be inappropriate for development of housing for lower income households unless the jurisdiction can provide evidence why the sites would be appropriate, such as statements from developers and submitted development plans.
  • Unless a jurisdiction has established minimum allowable densities, site capacity calculations must be adjusted downwards based on the following factors: a) land use controls and site improvements; b) realistic capacity of site; c) typical densities; and d) environmental and infrastructure constraints.
  • Sites identified in the Housing Element that had either lower income units or a lower income occupant within the past five years must replace that housing at the same or lower income level as a condition of approval.

Layering these new requirements on a jurisdiction’s sites inventory will both reduce the number of suitable sites and will reduce the presumed unit capacity on sites deemed appropriate and available for development.  Lastly, the “No Net Loss” Law (Government Code section 65863) requires enough sites be maintained to meet the RHNA for all income levels throughout the planning period.   Therefore, State HCD will require jurisdictions create a sufficient buffer in the inventory to ensure adequate sites capacity exists throughout the planning period.

In addition to providing sufficient sites to address the total RHNA, how does the City’s zoning translate to providing adequate sites for each RHNA income category?

Housing Element law provides for the use of “default densities” to assess affordability when evaluating the adequacy of sites to address the RHNA affordability targets. Based on its population within Los Angeles County, Burbank falls within the default density of 30 units per acre for providing sites suitable for development of housing for very low- and low-income households, and 15 units/acre for sites suitable for moderate income households.  This is generally consistent with the default density approach that applied when the City updated the Housing Element in 2013, except that for this new 6th RHNA cycle housing sites will need to be designated and zoned with a minimum allowable density at these levels to count toward the associated lower and moderate income categories.

What happens if Burbank does not have its Housing Element certified by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)?

There are several potential consequences, the greatest of which is the risk of litigation based on a legally inadequate General Plan. Courts can impose a range of sanctions if they rule the housing element invalid, including a moratorium on all development and local land use authority until the housing element is brought into compliance. Furthermore, the jurisdiction is responsible for paying the litigant’s attorney fees. Settlement agreements between the parties often include stipulations for mandatory rezoning and affordable housing production requirements. State housing and related parks and infrastructure funds typically require housing element compliance for eligibility, so failure to secure an HCD approved element can result in a loss of funding. And where a jurisdiction’s prior housing element failed to identify adequate sites to address the RHNA, this unmet RHNA carry over to future housing element cycles, rendering HCD compliance in future housing element cycles extremely difficult.

AB 72 now expands HCDs enforcement authority to refer non-compliant jurisdictions to the State Attorney General’s Office for litigation, as evidenced by the recent lawsuit the State brought against the City of Huntington Beach.

How can the public be involved in the Housing Element process?

The Housing Element update is a community-based process that will include a variety of public engagement opportunities. This will include:

  • On-line housing needs and sites survey
  • Public study sessions before Planning Board and City Council
  • Community-wide workshops
  • Environmental scoping meeting
  • Public hearings before Planning Commission and City Council

To join the mailing list for notification, see the Get Involved section to submit your email address. Meeting notices and any announcements will also be posted on this webpage.


Get Involved

We want to hear your thoughts and ideas! Community engagement is vital to the General Plan Update process. The City and their consultant team will be hosting a variety of community outreach and public engagement activities throughout the Update process.

The City will continue to take measures to protect the health and safety its residents and business owners during the COVID-19 situation. Community outreach will be facilitated in a manner that puts people first while continuing to keep the community involved.

Please join our email list to stay up to date on the project and leave your comments below.