California housing bills advance as legislative calendar winds down
Davis Vanguard – September 2
Governor Gavin Newsom signed a key piece of housing legislation into law last Friday, which is intended to speed up housing production across California. SB 406 extends to local governments an existing California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemption for state financing of affordable housing projects, provided that the project will still undergo CEQA review by another public agency. In the meantime, two of Senator Scott Wiener’s housing bills (SB 4 and SB 423) are moving forward. SB 4 would allow faith institutions such as churches, synagogues, and mosques along with nonprofit colleges to build affordable housing on their property by-right, even if local zoning prevents this housing. Under SB 423, “all of the provisions of SB 35 will be extended to 2036, and will also be expanded to more completely cover mixed-income housing developments.” As explained in our prior legal alert, SB 35 separately provides for a streamlined ministerial approval process (i.e., no CEQA review) for qualifying housing projects in local jurisdictions that have not made sufficient progress towards their state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), as determined by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
California will invest $750M to add housing, clean transportation in ‘jobs-rich’ areas
KTLA – August 30
Last Wednesday, Governor Newsom and the California Strategic Growth Council announced plans to inject $757 million in “jobs-rich” areas to create more affordable housing and clean transit services. The investment represents about 2,500 affordable homes, 150 zero-emission buses, and more than 50 miles of new bikeways, Newsom’s office says, adding that the projects could remove the equivalent emissions of 178,000 gas-powered cars in a single year.
San Jose is the last of the big Bay Area cities without a certified Housing Element update
The Mercury News – August 31
California regulators say San Jose’s state-mandated Housing Element update still isn’t up to snuff. Without approval, San Jose risks missing out on state funding and could be forced to accept proposals for housing projects much larger than local zoning rules typically allow. That’s thanks to an until-recently, little-used penalty in state housing law known as the “Builder’s Remedy.” By June, developers had invoked the provision in attempts to push through at least 15 projects across San Jose. As explained in more detail in our prior legal alert, the “Builder’s Remedy” under the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) is disciplinary and applies when a local jurisdiction has not adopted a revised Housing Element in compliance with state law, in which case the local jurisdiction cannot deny a qualifying housing development project even if it is inconsistent with the general plan and zoning ordinance (subject to limited exceptions).
Los Angeles City Council member wants temporary halt to redevelopment of RSO units in Boyle Heights
Urbanize Los Angeles – August 31
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of a new community plan for Boyle Heights - a key milestone in the more than 15-year-long effort to establish new zoning rules and land use designations for the neighborhood. Pending final adoption of that document, the community’s representative on the Los Angeles City Council is seeking a temporary halt to all development efforts tied to rent stabilized housing within the plan’s boundaries. In proposing the interim control ordinance, 14th District Councilmember Kevin De Leon cites data stating that an estimated 15,000 units - or 65% of all the housing in Boyle Heights - is subject to the rent stabilization ordinance.
Santa Clara County official presses for more farmworker housing
San Jose Spotlight – September 4
Supervisor Sylvia Arenas, who represents the more rural District 1, introduced recommendations to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to help address the housing shortage faced by farmworkers. The county needs 700 homes for year-round workers and about double that for seasonal workers. However, only 61 homes are in the planning stage. Arenas wants an agricultural housing plan that includes a timeline for building at least 250 homes on county land and a list of the necessary resources for farmworkers outlined in 90 days.