By David M. Greenwald
Sacramento, CA – Thursday was a big day for housing legislation – one of the biggest focuses for the legislative session.
Senator Scott Wiener announced late on Thursday, that SB 423 which extends and revises SB 35 – a streamlining of the Builder’s Remedy – passed the Assembly.
Wiener tweeted, “With SB 423’s improvements, we’ll see more housing delivered more quickly.”
“With the strengthened SB 35’s streamlining provisions, we’re bringing California’s ambitious housing goals within reach,” said Senator Wiener. “SB 35 has proven one of the strongest tools in our toolbox for driving affordable housing development. That’s why a growing labor, business, anti-poverty, and environmental coalition has gone to bat to strengthen and extend this important law.”
SB 35’s streamlined approvals have proven 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.
It was the second success of the day for Senator Wiener.
SB 4 also passed the Assembly. SB 4 would open over 170,000 acres for affordable housing by allowing 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. The legislation applies to 100% affordable housing.
The Bill cleared the Assembly on 56-1 vote, and both bills return to the Senate before heading to the Governor for his signature.
“This groundbreaking legislation provides a powerful tool to tackle the massive affordable housing shortage facing California,” said Senator Wiener. “We need to build 1 million affordable homes in the next 8 years to meet our housing goals, and hundreds of faith communities and nonprofit colleges have excess land that can and should be used for affordable housing. I’m thrilled to see a victory for this broad coalition – let’s get it over the finish line.”
Wiener’s office noted that A recent report from UC Berkeley’s Terner Center “found that there are roughly 171,000 acres of land throughout the state that would be eligible for affordable housing under SB 4”.
However, “One of the chief obstacles to affordable housing development is that affordable housing developers must compete against market rate developments for land. SB 4 opens tens of thousands of acres that affordable housing developers will have exclusive access to.”
Wiener’s office noted, “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 state law.”
The bigger picture however, “California’s housing crisis continues to worsen, as jurisdictions across the state fall behind their goal of building 2.5 million homes in the next 8 years. Young families are leaving California in search of cheaper housing, kids can’t afford to live where they grew up, and evictions and displacement are spiking.”
Further Wiener’s office noted, “Our homelessness crisis is worsening, and people are sleeping on their streets and in their cars in higher and higher numbers. SB 4 will allow churches and other nonprofit colleges to help alleviate this crisis by building affordable housing on their own property. These institutions already serve deeply important and central roles in our communities, and those that feel called to should be able to provide housing to those who need it.”