CSAC Bulletin Article

CSAC Housing, Land Use & Transportation New Laws

October 27, 2022

CSAC recently reported on the final outcomes of measures that were approved by the Legislature and delivered to Governor Newsom for action. To keep counties informed of new laws of interest and impact, CSAC will publish a series of articles to spotlight those laws in each policy area. This week, the Housing, Land Use and Transportation (HLT) policy area provides information on new laws impacting zoning, parking requirements, and CEQA.

For additional questions, please contact Mark Neuburger or Kristina Gallagher.

**New laws take effect Jan 1, 2022, unless otherwise noted**

Housing and Land Use

AB 916 (Salas) Zoning: bedroom addition. The bill would prohibit a city or county legislative body from adopting or enforcing an ordinance requiring a public hearing as a condition of reconfiguring existing space to increase the bedroom count within an existing dwelling unit.

AB 1932 (Daly) Public contracts: construction manager at-risk construction contracts. The bill extends the sunset date in existing law which allows counties to enter into construction manager at risk contracts (known as CMAR contracts). The CMAR method is a much more efficient and flexible procurement method rather than the traditional Design-Bid-Build method. In short, the CMAR method allows for early construction manager input during the design process, allowing for a quicker and more cost-effective way to build certain public works projects.

Current law contained a sunset date of January 1st, 2023. This bill allows counties to continue using this method until January 1, 2029.

AB 2011 (Wicks) Affordable Housing and High Road Jobs Act of 2022. The bill creates a ministerial, streamlined approval process for 100% affordable housing projects in commercial zones and for mixed-income housing projects along commercial corridors, as specified. The bill also imposes specified labor standards on those projects, including requirements that contractors pay prevailing wages, participate in apprenticeship programs, and make specified healthcare expenditures.

The bill more narrowly targets infill building along heavily transited commercial corridors. Under AB 2011, a developer would get to build housing “by-right” which means skipping local review processes, as well as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process if they paid workers union-level wages and offered health care benefits, among other requirements. The bill has a delayed implementation date of July 1, 2023, and a sunset date of January 1, 2033.

AB 2097 (Friedman) Residential, commercial, or other development types: parking requirements. The bill prohibits public agencies from imposing or enforcing parking minimums on developments within ½ mile of public transit. This bill adds a violation of the minimum automobile parking requirements of development projects to the list of laws that, when violated, require HCD to notify the jurisdiction and authorize the Attorney General to bring an action to enforce state law. This bill allows local governments to make certain findings to increase parking spaces when development meets certain eligibility criteria.  The language provides that the bill does not apply to commercial parking requirements if it conflicts with an existing contractual agreement to provide parking spaces as of January 1, 2023.

AB 2221 (Quirk-Silva) Accessory Dwelling Units. This bill makes numerous changes to the laws governing accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs). This bill would align the height limits of this bill to align with those proposed in SB 897 (Wieckowski) of the current legislative session, which would increase the minimum ADU height limit that a local agency may impose. It would specify that a local agency must ”approve or deny” an ADU or JADU within the proscribed timeframes, rather than they must ”act.” Add that, if a permitting agency denies an application for an ADU or JADU, the permitting agency must return in writing a full set of comments to the applicant with a list of items that are defective or deficient and a description of how the application can be remedied by the applicant.

AB 2234 (Rivas) Planning and zoning: housing: postentitlement phase permits. This bill establishes time limits for approval and requires online permitting of postentitlement permits. Specifically, this bill requires local agencies to complete review, either return in writing a full set of comments to the applicant with a comprehensive request for revisions or return the approved permit application, and electronically notify the applicant of its determination within 30 business days of the application being complete for housing development projects with 25 units or fewer; or 60 business days of the application being complete for housing development projects with 26 units or more. The bill also requires a local agency to establish a digital permitting system if the local agency meets a specific population threshold. 

AB 2334 (Wicks) Density Bonus Law: affordability: incentives or concessions in very low vehicle travel areas: parking standards: definitions. This bill allows a housing development project in 17 specified counties to receive added height and unlimited density if the project is located in an urbanized very low vehicle travel area, at least 80 percent of the units are restricted to lower income households, and no more than 20 percent are for moderate income households. The bill limits the provisions to the Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura, Sacramento, and Santa Barbara. As background, the density bonus law was originally enacted in 1979 as an incentive to encourage housing developers to produce affordable units which can be offered at below market-rates. In return for including a certain percentage of affordable units, housing developers receive the ability to add additional units for their project above the jurisdiction’s allowable zoned density for the site.

AB 2653 (Santiago) Planning and Zoning Law: housing elements. This bill provides additional enforcement authorities to Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). The bill was amended on August 11, 2022, to require the planning agency to additionally include in its annual report the number of all new housing units, the number of housing units demolished, and data from all projects approved to receive a density bonus from the city or county. The bill authorizes HCD to request corrections to the housing element portion of an annual report within 90 days of receipt and require the planning agency to make the requested corrections within 30 days. The bill also authorizes HCD to reject the housing element portion of an annual report if the report is not in substantial compliance with these requirements. The bill also authorizes HCD to notify the jurisdiction and the Attorney General when the planning agency fails to comply with the provisions of this bill.

SB 6 (Caballero) Local planning: housing: commercial zones. The bill enacts, until January 1, 2033, the “Middle Class Housing Act of 2022”, which enables housing development on parcels within a zone where office, retail, or parking are a principally permitted use, including allowing qualifying projects to use the streamlined application procedures of Senate Bill 35 (Wiener, 2017). The bill had the support of the state Building and Construction Trades Council, while AB 2011 (Wicks) had support from affordable housing developers and the state’s Conference of Carpenters. The Governor and the Senate and Assembly Leadership approved both bills and opted to give developers two choices if they want to build housing where strip malls once were, which is to comply with stricter affordability standards or stricter labor standards. They apply to overlapping sites and leave the choice of which policy to use in the developer’s hands. SB 6 becomes operative on July 1, 2023.

SB 897 (Wieckowski) Accessory dwelling units: junior accessory dwelling units. This bill increases the height maximum of ADU’s from 16 to 18 feet for parcels with an existing multistory building or 20 feet for a multifamily or single-family parcel located within a half mile of transit. This bill also adds a provision which sets a minimum height requirement of 25 feet for ADUs that are attached to a primary single-family residence.

SB 948 (Becker) Housing finance programs: development reserves. This bill replaces individual project transition reserves for the development of affordable housing to a pooled reserve model, as specified, operated by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Specifically, the bill creates the Pooled Transition Reserve Fund to be operated by HCD and will continuously appropriate funding into that fund for the purpose of maintaining a pooled transition reserve to mitigate the impacts on tenant rents from the loss or exhaustion of rental or operating subsidies. SB 948 also authorizes HCD to charge a fee to a development that receives qualified project rental or operating subsidies at the time of permanent loan closing, to be deposited into the fund.

SB 1214 (Jones) Planning and zoning: local planning. This bill requires a local planning agency to ensure architectural drawings that contain copyright-protected material are made available to the public in a manner that does not facilitate copying. This bill requires a local planning agency to ensure architectural drawings that contain protected information are made available to the public in a manner that does not facilitate their copying. “Protected information” means the architectural drawing is protected under the Copyright Act, as amended by the Architectural Copyright Act, and contains a copyright annotation indicating it is protected by the Copyright Act. This bill specifies that a local planning agency may maintain official copies of each set of architectural drawings submitted to the agency, but imposes restrictions on those copies if they contain protected information, unless permission is granted by the design professional or the owner of the copyright. 



AB 2953 (Salas) Department of Transportation and local agencies: streets and highways: recycled materials. This bill, beginning January 1, 2024, requires local agencies, as defined, to apply standard specifications for the use of recycled materials in streets and highways that are at or above the level allowed in the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) specifications, to the extent feasible and cost effective.

SB 922 (Wiener) California Environmental Quality Act: exemptions: transportation-related projects. The bill exempts various types of qualifying transportation projects that are vital to meeting California’s transportation greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals from review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Importantly for California’s counties, who are responsible for transportation facilities in unincorporated communities that range from highly urban to very rural, this bill expands a tailored set of exemptions offered under existing law to apply to transportation projects in both rural and urban communities. Specifically, this bill expands CEQA exemptions for specified transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects, and extends these exemptions from 2023 to 2030.


SB 932 (Portantino) General plans: circulation element: bicycle and pedestrian plans and traffic calming plans.  The bill requires every city and county to develop and implement bicycle plans, pedestrian plans, and traffic calming plans upon a substantive revision of the circulation element. Specifically, this bill requires a city or county, upon the next substantive revision of the circulation element occurring on or after January 1, 2025, to incorporate the principles of the Federal Highway Administration’s Safe System Approach in the circulation element and develop bicycle plans, pedestrian plans and traffic calming plans based on the policies in the circulation element. The bill requires a city or county to begin implementation of the modified circulation element within two years of adoption. It also requires a city or county to set a goal for initiation and completion action identified in bicycle plans, pedestrian plans, and traffic calming plans, and that the goals be based upon projected development activities within urbanized areas with the scope of the general plan and subject to projected available revenues and to regularly review the progress towards and identify impediments to completing implementation of the plan. Finally, the bill requires a city or county to consider revising the circulation element if it determines that it will not reach the goals it established within 25 years of adoption of the modified circulation element.

SB 1121 (Gonzalez) State and local transportation system: needs assessment. The bill requires the California Transportation Commission (CTC), in consultation with the California Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), to prepare a needs assessment of the cost to operate, maintain and provide for the necessary future growth of the state and local transportation system. The needs assessment required by SB 1121 would provide important information necessary to identify anticipated revenue to cover the cost of the needs identified, along with information on funding shortfalls and how those gaps should be addressed. Additionally, needs assessments can be a helpful tool in clarifying and identifying transportation goals, identifying tradeoffs (for instance, the fundamental tradeoff between capital improvements or expansion and system preservation) and encouraging alignment across agencies and programs. The bill requires the CTC to submit an interim needs assessment to the Legislature on or before January 1, 2024, and a complete needs assessment on or before January 1, 2025, and every five years thereafter, as specified.


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