Every jurisdiction has a General Plan that serves as the local government's "blueprint" for the future, prescribing policy goals and objectives to shape and guide the physical development of the local jurisdiction. A Housing Element is one of seven required elements of the Town's General Plan. Due to the critical nature of limited housing and housing affordability with statewide implications, State law requires Housing Elements to be updated on a regular basis. The Town of Atherton is currently part of an 8-year update cycle (2023-2031) and is working to update the Housing Element.
The Town is not required to build housing itself; rather, the Town is required to create laws and policies that affect where housing can be built, what types of housing can be built, how much housing can be built, and the process by which it is reviewed and approved. Every jurisdiction's housing plan is required to meet the mandates of the State to address housing needs over specific periods of time.