CSAC Bulletin Article

County Feedback Needed on Housing Bills

March 25, 2016

California’s long-term challenges in providing for the development of housing affordable for all income levels are increasingly regarded as reaching a crisis level. This year, the Legislature has responded with a variety of housing bills that attempt to attack the problem from nearly all imaginable angles. CSAC staff are still parsing through a number of housing-related bills that provide additional revenue and financing options for affordable housing, allow local governments additional regulatory tools to promote affordable housing, or impose mandates on cities and counties related to their planning and permitting of housing development.

We’ve attempted to organize and describe twelve such bills by their general themes below. CSAC would appreciate comments or concerns that counties may be able to provide on any or all of the following legislative proposals.

New Revenue and Financing Tools

Assembly Member and former CSAC President, Rich Gordon, has introduced a pair of bills that would expand the role of California’s Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank in regards to affordable housing. AB 2319 would add affordable housing to the types of projects for which the Bank is authorized to provide financial assistance, while AB 2475 would establish a forgivable loan program for local governments developing affordable housing. Former Speaker, Assembly Member Toni Atkins, has introduced AB 2734, which would require the state Department of Finance to calculate the state savings related to the dissolution of Redevelopment Agencies each year and allocate half of that amount or one billion dollars, whichever is greater, to provide funding for local agencies for housing purposes.

New Regulatory Tools for Local Agencies

Several bills would give counties additional tools or incentives to create new affordable housing or maintain the affordability of existing housing. According to the author, Assembly Member Maienschein, AB 1500 would give local jurisdictions the option to plan for the future construction of supportive and transitional housing projects within the housing element. This new option is based on a similar requirement for Emergency Shelters and the intended result of the measure would be ensuring that these projects are not “discretionary” within the meaning of CEQA. AB 2351, by Assembly Member Hernandez, would give local agencies additional authority to impose rent control ordinances for a mobile home park when vacancies or rents meet or exceed yet-to-be-specified thresholds. Finally, AB 2502, by Assembly Member Mullin, would restore the ability of local governments to adopt inclusionary housing requirements as a condition of residential development. CSAC has previously supported this authority and it was recently the subject of a failed Supreme Court challenge.

New Housing Mandates for Local Government Properties

CSAC is very interested in counties comments on AB 2388, by Assembly Member Gipson, which would require before 2018 that every local government agency adopt a mortgage program that allocates 10% of all single-family residences that the local government agency owns and leases. CSAC would like to know how this new requirement, which is aimed to increase home ownership, may affect affordable rental housing programs or other programs offered by counties. AB 2208, by Assembly Member Santiago, takes a different approach related to properties owned by local governments by requiring that new public buildings or existing buildings being retrofitted with state funds be designed to accommodate the construction of affordable housing above the building. The bill further requires that the local agency offer to sell air rights to the building to affordable housing developers.

New Mandates on Local Government Land Use and Permitting Authority

AB 2282, by Assembly Member Calderon, would require counties to take on a new regulatory role related to rental housing within their jurisdictions. Specifically, the bill, which is aimed at preventing the proliferation of rental homes purchased by hedge funds following the financial crisis, would place a yet-to-be-specified cap on the percentage of single family homes that are used as rental properties within a postal ZIP Code area. CSAC expressed to the authors office that this would be a new role for county government, and applying the requirement even within ZIP Codes within incorporated cities adds an additional layer of complexity. CSAC would appreciate comments on whether counties have encountered issues with this relatively new class of single-family rentals or taken any action to regulate such properties. We are also interested in comments or concerns related to this new potential county role.

In contrast to AB 2406 (Thurmond) related to junior second units, which we wrote about in last week’s edition of the bulletin, AB 2299, by Assembly Member Bloom, would affect full second units. AB 2299 would require a local agency to provide by ordinance for the creation of second units within specified zones and prevent the local agency from imposing parking requirements for second units near transit or shopping, or within an architecturally and historically significant district.

Finally, CSAC is interested in counties’ reactions to a pair of bills related to the density bonus law. AB 2442, by Assembly Member Holden, would require a density bonus to be provided to a developer that agrees to construct a housing development that includes at least 10% of the total units for transitional foster youth, disabled veterans, or homeless persons. AB 2501 would impose a requirement on local governments to make a written determination on whether applicant’s application for a density bonus is complete within 30 calendar days of receipt, and to make a final determination within 60 calendar days of receipt of a completed application. CSAC has previously opposed many bills that sought to impose “shot-clock” requirements on land use and permitting activities.

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