ABAG-MTC and partners Community Planning Collaborative have received the 2023 Planning Agency Award of Excellence from the American Planning Association (APA) California Chapter for the Regional Housing Technical Assistance (RHTA) Program. This award brings state-level recognition to the three-year-old program. The award was presented on Sept. 18 at the APA California 2023 Conference in Fresno.
In presenting the award, APA CA President Andrea Ouse highlighted the program’s innovative approach in addressing critical regional needs, its high-quality outreach, engagement and collaboration, and its direct implementation efforts.
“The Regional Housing Technical Assistance Program has provided an unprecedented array of critical resources for the Bay Area’s 101 cities and nine Counties, saving jurisdictions significant time and money and advancing important regional policies through a shared sense of regional priorities and an increase in capacity and momentum,” Ouse said.
The program, which launched in 2020, is funded by a $24 million state Regional Early Action Planning grant from the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The program’s components include shared consultant services, tools and resources, which work together to provide holistic support for the region’s elected officials and planning staff as jurisdictions adopt and implement their Housing Elements.
RHTA scales the 21 Elements collaborative model — developed by Community Planning Collaborative for San Mateo County, CA — to a regional level, providing a large volume of technical assistance, high-quality resources, and visionary leadership as an innovative solution to the complex, ever-evolving set of requirements and housing policies in California. This level of collaboration and information sharing and the collection of tools and resources available provides a previously unheard-of level of support for jurisdictions during the Housing Element process.
“The RHTA Program has provided all Bay Area jurisdictions with an extensive array of technical assistance products and peer support to ease the Housing Element process for jurisdiction staff,” said ABAG President Jesse Arreguin. “This award is well-deserved recognition, and I congratulate all our staff and partners who have made this program successful.”
The program’s shared resources and services have saved each Bay Area jurisdiction more than $30,000. Additionally, sub-grants to each jurisdiction provided $10.88 million in support of local housing planning priorities. Beyond the Bay Area, staff statewide have been able to access resources through RHTA’s online trainings and ABAG’s Technical Assistance Portal. Even Ouse has used them, as she noted in her award presentation.
Earlier this year, the RHTA Program received an APA, California Chapter – Northern Section Award of Excellence (first place) in the Planning Agency Category.