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Housing for a Growing California: Details on My Housing Reform Bill

Today, I’m releasing more details on my housing reform bill, Senate Bill 35 — the Housing Accountability and Affordability Act. A fact sheet is attached at the end of this post.

 

California is in a housing shortage due to decades of underproduction of housing at all income levels. Too often our cities aren’t taking their responsibility seriously to build housing for people who live and work in our communities, and this hits middle income, working class, and poor residents the hardest. SB 35 will retain local control for those cities that are producing their share of housing, but create a more streamlined path for housing creation in those cities that are blocking housing or ignoring their responsibility to build. SB 35 will result in more housing at all income levels, good-paying jobs to build that housing, and more accountability in creating the new homes our residents so badly need.

 

SB 35 will create a streamlined approval process for housing when cities are not meeting the housing creation goals required by the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), which will expedite the construction of affordable housing. RHNA is the state-mandated process that sets the number of housing units that must be included, at all affordability levels, in each local jurisdiction’s housing element..

 

Currently, RHNA has no teeth, and there are no ramifications if a city fails to meet its RHNA housing number. Indeed, many cities aren’t even required to report their progress to the state. And, the state doesn’t do a great job reporting out statewide RHNA progress.

 

Under SB 35, if cities aren’t on track to meet their RHNA goals, then approval of projects will be streamlined if they meet certain objective criteria.

 

Currently, RHNA goals are reassessed and updated every 8 years. Under SB 35, all cities and counties will be required to submit their progress on housing production to the California Department of Housing and Community Development every 2 years, and the department will be required to make that data easily available to the public. If the city is not on track to meet its RHNA goals at one of these progress checks, streamlining will be in effect for the entire next two-year cycle. A city is “on track” if it is 1/4 of the way to its goal by year 2 of the 8-year cycle, 1/2 of the way to its goal by year 4, and so on.The streamlining applies only to the income levels that aren’t being built for — so if a city is building sufficient market-rate units but not enough low-income units, the project must add low-income units to qualify for streamlined approval.

 

Below are specifics. For copies of the fact sheet, please email Jeff Cretan in my office at jeff.cretan@sen.ca.gov.

 

SB 35 Fact Sheet:

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How does SB 35 work?

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Source: medium.com