On September 7, 2023, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 1307 (AB 1307), which provides that noise generated by occupants of residential projects is not a significant effect on the environment under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). AB 1307 also eliminates the requirement that public universities consider alternatives to the location of housing projects when the project is located on a site no bigger than five acres in an urban use setting, and has already been evaluated in an environmental impact report for the university’s long-range development plan. The State Legislature unanimously passed the bill, which takes immediate effect as an urgency statute to address California’s housing crisis.
This bill, publicly backed by the Governor, is a direct response to a court ruling from earlier this year in Make UC a Good Neighbor v. Regents of University of California that blocked the University of California Berkeley’s new affordable housing development for failing to consider the noise impacts of college students living in residential neighborhoods. The appellate court decision received widespread public attention due to the polarizing conflict between the university’s need for student housing and the neighbors’ concerns with noise from student parties. The California Supreme Court has granted review of this case, and a hearing has not yet been scheduled.
This bill stems from a larger conversation amongst California leaders and stakeholders on the need for affordable housing and CEQA’s role in facilitating such development. Passage of this bill will clear hurdles for public universities, in particular helping UC Berkeley move forward with more than 1,200 units of housing. The bill also provides certainty for residential projects across the State, ensuring that these projects will not be met with further delay.
Read the full text of the bill here.