California Enacts More Than Two Dozen Laws This Year To Address Housing Crisis | Brand Downey LLP
This legislative year, Gov. Gavin Newsom enacted thirty-one pieces of legislation designed to address California’s current housing crisis by providing tools to increase housing production, streamline housing permits, and increase allowable density across the country. ‘State. The main housing related bills, which come into force on January 1, 2022, unless otherwise specified, are discussed below.
- SB 7, known as the Housing and Jobs Expansion and Extension Act, came into effect immediately as “emergency law” to address the state’s housing crisis through zoning and land reform. the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). It replenishes AB 900 until 2025 and extends CEQA’s expedited review for small-scale infill housing projects. For a more in-depth discussion of SB 7, please refer to Downey Brand’s previous CEQA Chronicles SB 7 blog Publish.
- SB 8 extends the duration of the 2019 Housing Crisis Act (SB 330) until January 1, 2030, and allows applicants who submit qualifying preliminary housing development applications before January 1, 2030 to use the protections of the law until January 1, 2034. SB 8 also clarifies certain aspects of the existing law. SB 330 included procedural and substantive protections for qualifying housing development projects, such as speeding up the approval process, limiting fee increases on housing applications, and implementing provisions for housing applications. responsibility. Through SB 8, the legislature clarifies the definition of a âhousing development projectâ for the purposes of the Housing Crisis Act to include projects which do not involve any discretionary approval, projects which involve the both discretionary and ministerial approvals, and projects that include the construction of a single unit housing. SB 8 adds demolition, relocation and return rights, and also clarifies that developers cannot demolish multiple units and replace them with a single-family home.
- SB 9 provides for ministerial approval of certain housing development projects that contain up to two residential units (duplexes) on single-family zoned plots, and also provides for ministerial approval of eligible lot splits that subdivide single-family plots into two lots , if various criteria are met. Together, these provisions allow for the development of a maximum of four housing units without further CEQA examination, when only one would have been authorized. However, a local agency has the option of refusing such a housing project if it finds that the project would have serious negative impacts on health and safety or on the physical environment. Additionally, lot split applicants must confirm that they intend to occupy one of the units as their primary residence for at least three years, unless it is a community land trust. or a qualified non-profit corporation. In addition, a local agency may require easements for public services and facilities, or access to the public right-of-way, as conditions of approval. Finally, SB 9 would allow four years of extension – instead of three years – for subdivision plans subject to significant public improvement obligations. This bill continues to tackle the housing crisis in the state by gradually expanding the supply of housing through small-scale housing projects and builds on previous legislation that aimed to speed up the provision of housing. permits and the construction of accessory housing units (ADUs) and junior ADUs.
- SB 10 allows local agencies to pass ordinances that allow up to 10 units per eligible plot in high transit areas or urban infill sites without CEQA exam. However, actual projects proposed on these plots do not benefit from the same CEQA exemption through SB 10 and may require CEQA review if they are not exempted (eg under SB 35). SB 10 further allows a local agency, by a two-thirds vote, to override voter-approved zoning for those eligible plots. This provision of SB 10 has already been challenged by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in a lawsuit filed on September 30, 2021. SB 10 does not apply to open spaces, parks or recreation plots approved by voters, or to plots very areas with high fire intensity. SB 10 makes increasing density more accessible by creating a pathway for housing-friendly cities to approve overzoning without being slowed down by CEQA litigation and delays.
- SB 290 amends California Density Bonus Law to clarify specific provisions of the law and provide incentives for certain student housing projects. First, SB 290 explicitly states that the Density Premium Act applies to both rental and sale housing development projects. Second, SB 290 extends the statutory limited parking allowance to low-income developments. Current law prohibited a local agency from requiring more than 0.5 space per unit for any development within half a mile of a major transit stop that provided at least 20% units. low income or 11% very low income units. SB 290 extends this parking ratio limit to developments with at least 40% moderate income units. Third, student housing projects that include at least 20% of the total number of units for certain “low income students” as defined in SB 290 are now eligible for a density bonus or standard concession of. development. Fourth, SB 290 revises the definition of “specific negative impact” to conform to the definition in the Housing Liability Act regarding the discretion of a local agency to refuse a requested inducement or deviation from standards. development if it would create a “specified negative impact on health, safety or the physical environment.” And fifth, SB 290 codifies the conduct of Latinos Unidos De Napa c. City of Napa (2013) 221 Cal.App.4th 192, to confirm that by setting aside a percentage of total units as affordable under the Density Premium Act, the term “total units” excludes any premium unit from density and includes any units necessary to meet a local agency’s inclusionary zoning requirement. With these changes, the legislature continues to recognize the density bonus provisions as important tools to alleviate the affordable housing crisis in the state.
- SB 478, the Housing Opportunities Act, prohibits restrictions on the area ratio (FAR) which effectively prohibit the construction of apartment buildings. This bill prevents local governments from setting a DAF less than 1.0 for projects of three to seven units or less than 1.25 for projects of eight to ten units. To be eligible, projects must be located in a multi-family residential zone or a mixed-use zone. SB 478 also prevents local governments from basing the denial of an eligible project solely on failure to meet minimum lot size requirements and from imposing a lot coverage requirement that would prevent a subdivision from reaching the authorized FAR. . The bill cancels and makes inapplicable any commitment, condition or restriction of private development that could unreasonably prevent a project from reaching the authorized RBF. Discussing SB 478, Senator Scott Weiner said: â[w]We need to reform zoning, but we also need to close the loopholes that prevent our communities from actually building the multi-family dwellings that we have already zoned for.
- SB 791 creates the California Surplus Land Unit, a technical assistance unit within the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), to âfacilitate agreements between real estate developers and local agencies seeking to dispose of surplus land; providing advice, technical assistance, and advisory and technical services to local agencies with surplus land and to developers seeking to develop housing on surplus land; and collaborate with specified state agencies to help real estate developers and local agencies obtain grants, loans, tax credits, credit enhancements and other types of financing that facilitate the construction of housing on surplus land. The bill requires the HCD to submit an annual report showing the number and location of housing units assisted by the California Surplus Land Unit and the funds used to fund those units. SB 791 also calls for the collection of data to inform the legislature’s understanding of how the work of the California Surplus Land Unit can better promote the production of affordable housing.
- AB 571 Prohibits local governments from imposing affordable housing impact fees on affordable units as part of a subdivision density bonus project.
- AB 1398 requires local agencies that fail to adopt legally compliant housing items to rezon properly within one year. The bill ensures that cities and counties change zoning adequately to meet their housing needs. Jurisdictions that fail to adopt HCD-compliant housing items within 120 days of the legal deadline will have one year to complete the required rezoning, instead of the current three years and 120 days. The bill gives teeth to ensure that local governments act to fulfill their housing mandates.