A Housing Element is one of seven mandatory elements which must be included in a jurisdiction’s General Plan. General Plans are more comprehensive than Housing Elements and must include Land Use, Circulation, Housing, Open Space, Noise, Safety and Conservation. There is no specific timeframe for when General Plans must be updated, so many are in place for decades before they are updated. Mountain View completed an update of its General Plan in 2012.

Housing Element cycles are now supposed to be consistent with SB 375, which requires strategies to achieve greenhouse gas reductions through regional transportation planning and funding. Therefore, Housing Elements will now be on an eight-year cycle. SB 375 requires the region to have a Sustainable Communities Strategy as a mandatory element of the regional transportation plan. Part of this strategy includes identifying areas within the region sufficient to house an 8-year projection of regional housing need. Plan Bay Area was recently adopted as a result of the requirement for a sustainable communities strategy. A Draft Blueprint for Plan Bay Area is under consideration in August 2020.

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