Special to the Vanguard
SACRAMENTO, CA – The Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee passed Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bills 4, 423, and 593. These measures seek to tackle the deepening crisis of housing affordability in California by extending landmark streamlining provisions, allowing faith institutions and nonprofit colleges to build affordable housing, and opening up new funding sources to correct the legacy of racist housing mass-demolition in San Francisco.
“We need powerful tools in our arsenal to tackle California’s housing affordability crisis,” said Senator Wiener. “We must not allow successful housing laws like SB 35 to expire, and we need new tools like streamlining for faith institutions and innovative financing solutions to make a dent in the massive shortage we’ve created. I thank my colleagues and our broad coalition for moving these bills forward.”
The Affordable Housing on Faith Lands Act (SB 4)
SB 4 ensures that churches, faith institutions, and nonprofit colleges will be able to build affordable housing on their land without having to go through an expensive and difficult rezoning and discretionary approval process. It passed the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee 6-0 and heads next to the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.
Any organization building this type of streamlined affordable housing must maintain the affordability of these homes for a minimum of 55 years for rental properties and 45 years for properties that can be owned. Additionally, density and height requirements are tied to what is deemed appropriate for affordable housing by housing element law.
SB 4 is sponsored by the California Conference of Carpenters, Inner City Law Center, Jewish Public Affairs Committee, Non-profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH), Southern California Association of Non-profit Housing (SCANPH).
SB 423 extends the provisions of SB 35 (2017), one of the state’s most successful tools for accelerating development of affordable housing. The bill passed 6-1 with bipartisan support and heads next to the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.
SB 35’s streamlined approvals have proved to be enormously successful at increasing affordable housing production in communities failing to keep pace with their housing goals—helping develop over 18,000 units of affordable housing and tens of thousands of high-wage jobs in the four years since it went into effect.
With the law sunsetting at the end of 2025, Sen. Wiener’s new bill, SB 423, would extend its provisions—and add strong new labor standards signed into law last year by Governor Newsom in AB 2011 that will ensure it continues to produce both affordable housing and stable, high-wage jobs for California workers.
The bill was amended in the Senate to apply skilled and trained workforce requirements in steel-frame tall construction. Mixed income projects over 85 feet would now require skilled and trained workforce to receive streamlining, as long as the project receives at least 3 qualified bids.
The bill has drawn support from a wide range of construction unions, including the California Conference of Carpenters, the District Council of Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ of Northern California, Northern California District Council of Laborers, the Southern California District Council of Laborers, and the California-Nevada Conference of Operating Engineers. Together, these unions represent the majority of unionized residential construction workers in California.
SB 423 is sponsored by the California Housing Consortium, California Conference of Carpenters, the Inner City Law Center, the Local Initiative Support Corporation, and California YIMBY.
The San Francisco Replacement Housing Act (SB 593)
The bill passed 5-0 and heads next to the Assembly Floor.
The period of redevelopment—also known as “urban renewal”—beginning in the 1950s in San Francisco led to widespread clearance, mass demolition, and relocation of communities, particularly lower income communities and communities of color like the Western Addition, SoMA, and Japantown.
Though the redevelopment agency was legally required to replace the units of affordable housing it destroyed, 5,842 units of low- and moderate-income housing were never replaced. In addition, the affordability restrictions for some of the replacement housing units that were constructed have expired, or are in danger of expiring. These units may need additional assistance to ensure that the properties continue to provide affordable housing.
The City has set a state-mandated obligation to produce over 46,000 units for very low-, low- and moderate-income households in the next 8 years, and these units are critical to helping the City meet that goal.
SB 593 will allow the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City and County of San Francisco to replace all of the housing units demolished prior to 1976, as well as preserve affordability of the replacement housing built in the 1970s. Specifically, it will:
- Create a limited funding source through the use of property tax revenues (former tax increment) to fulfill the replacement housing obligations using only the City and County of San Francisco’s share of property tax revenues that remain after all pre-existing commitments are funded;
- Allow the Successor Agency to bond against property tax revenues exclusively for the purpose of fulfilling the replacement housing obligations subject to the same strict standards and procedures for review and approval by the oversight board and the State Department of Finance as other bonds under dissolution law;
- Dedicate the revenues to the development of affordable housing within the City and County of San Francisco for households that earn up to 120% Area Median Income (AMI);
- Extend tax increment authority for affordable housing purposes while protecting school revenues from property taxes and not placing the State’s general fund at risk from a reduction in school funding;
- Limit revenues to the amount necessary to fund the fulfillment of the identified, documented, and certified replacement housing obligations;
- Require compliance with the standards under Redevelopment Dissolution Law for review and approval of bond issuance by the oversight board and Department of Finance.
SB 593 is sponsored by the City and County of San Francisco and the Freedom West Homes Corporation.