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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

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New software tool helps residents visualize RHNA-compliant housing plans

By Nate Berg, Fast Company, May 26, 2022

Balancing Act is a [new online simulation tool] that gives residents the ability to participate in the process of deciding how their cities will meet their state targets.… [T]he tool requires residents to decide where growth should occur [to remain complaint with state law]. Cities throughout Northern California are using the tool, with an atypically high rate of support from residents.

“Balancing Act was originally created to help cities with … balancing the budget. The new focus on housing was suggested by a city official [from Elk Grove, near Sacramento] who saw its relevance for the … housing element update.

“[In the tool, a] running tally appeared at the top of the screen showing how close each user was to meeting the state’s housing target, and only those users who selected enough sites [at sufficient density] to hit the target could submit their plan to the city. [Christopher Jordan, director of strategic planning and innovation for Elk Grove,] says it created a way for the public to be involved in thinking about housing at a citywide scale.

“In addition to Elk Grove, the tool has been used by several cities in the San Francisco Bay Area, and [Balancing Act’s creators are] now working with cities in Washington state, where similar housing targets get set at the state level. Feedback collected through the tool directly influences the housing plans these cities eventually create.”

Read the full article here, including pictures of Balancing Act implemented for Marin County and City of Alameda(~4 min.)

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