What is the Civic Lab Housing Series?


Over $6M was awarded to SACOG as part of the Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) program. Funds were awarded to SACOG from the state to address our region’s unique housing priorities and planning needs. SACOG received 25% of this funding early to support housing element work at the local level and to implement Civic Lab: Commercial Corridors projects. The remaining funds are divided among three programs: a non-competitive grant/pass-through allocation to each member jurisdiction; a competitive grant opportunity; and a Housing Series to support both efforts. 

The Civic Lab: Housing Series, starting mid-October, is a series of four virtual housing related workshops targeted at local agencies. This Series is intended to complement and support the non-competitive and competitive grants outlined in the board approved REAP Framework in June. This series will provide an opportunity for local agencies to learn from experts in housing related fields about topics and strategies that could be used to best incentivize increased housing production in their communities.  Recordings of the Series workshops will be available on this page.

SACOG met with over 50 local jurisdiction representatives (Housing Planners Group) in June to inform the Series design, narrow in on desired topic areas, and identify various types of technical assistance that will be beneficial to member jurisdictions. Based on a poll administered during that meeting, open discussion with member jurisdictions, a follow-up survey, and informed feedback from previous iterations of Civic Lab, each workshop will include: 

Expert-led discussions - In each of the four workshops, SACOG will solicit for housing-related experts. Feedback from member jurisdictions indicated an interest in localized expertise and, if possible, multiple experts in each topic area. Zoning/parking, missing middle housing, accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and virtual outreach were highlighted as very valuable content to local jurisdictions. Other topics that were of high interest or suggested by jurisdiction partners, included density bonus ordinances, fair housing/opportunity areas, fees, development review processes, and best practices for inclusionary housing. 

Targeted technical assistance – Members indicated that direct technical assistance from SACOG staff and expert consultants will be helpful to navigate housing-related topic areas. Sample planning documents and tools (e.g., vetted ordinances or sample zoning codes) and instructional guides (e.g., a FAQ or clearinghouse website) were of specific interest. SACOG is coordinating with HCD to collaborate on this aspect of the Series; the state is planning a statewide technical assistance program to support REAP funded projects. 

Local context setting – during conversations with members and through previous iterations of Civic Lab, peer to peer information sharing, discussion, and brainstorming came up as a very valuable component of project development. To this, each workshop will include a local jurisdiction with relevant experience in the topic area. Where possible, SACOG will include a local partner with Sacramento-region or California-specific experience. 

Historical context setting – The historical policy decisions that led to our current development pattern have had long-term implications for those who were negatively affected by those decisions. Land-use decisions like zoning can have intentional or unintentional impacts like segregation by race. To better understand how future decisions can impact the future of our land-use footprint, SACOG and/or experts will provide historical context setting to workshops, where appropriate.