CSAC Bulletin Article

Governor Newsom Signs Several Housing and Tribal Relations Bills

September 30, 2021

Governor Newsom signed several bills of interest to the Housing, Land Use, and Transportation Policy Committee over the last week. Below are brief summaries of several housing and tribal relations bills relevant to counties. CSAC will provide more detailed summaries of all new laws in the Housing, Land Use, and Transportation policy area after the signing period ends on October 10. 

AB 215 (Chiu) – Housing Element Violations

AB 215 increases the enforcement authority of the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) in relation to violations of state housing law and requires cities and counties to make any draft revisions to their housing elements available for public comment for at least 30 days.

While CSAC was successful in securing amendments that removed the most problematic aspects of the bill as introduced, late amendments to AB 215 created new issues for counties. Specifically, we opposed the bill’s creation of a new, three-year statute of limitations for any action brought pursuant to the enforcement process created under AB 72. We also had concerns with the new timeframes for housing element adoption—especially for counties with updates due in 2022.

CSAC’s letter to the Governor requesting his veto on this bill is available here.

AB 362 (Quirk-Silva) – Safety Regulations for Homeless Shelters

AB 362 would require local governments to conduct inspections of homeless shelters when they receive complaints alleging violations of building habitability standards. The bill also creates enforcement requirements and additional penalties for shelter operators who fail to remediate violations. Finally, the bill requires annual reports by a local agency to the state when a shelter operator fails to correct a violation.

This bill was approved by both houses of the Legislature and is currently pending action by the Governor. CSAC did not take a position on this measure but worked closely with the author to negotiate amendments to minimize local agency liability and streamline burdensome reporting requirements.

AB 602 (Grayson)  – Impact Fee Nexus Study

AB 602 makes significant changes to laws governing local residential development impact fee programs. Specifically, the bill requires local governments to update their nexus studies used to justify certain impact fees at least once every eight years; requires jurisdictions to base fee calculations on the square footage of individual residential units, unless the jurisdiction demonstrates that another metric is more appropriate. AB 602 also adds additional public hearing requirements and requires local agencies to make additional findings supporting their fee calculations and address evidence challenging the validity of their findings.

CSAC and our local government colleagues negotiated many concessions in the bill over a multi-year process but continued the provision requiring HCD to develop a nexus fee study template– which we worry will become mandatory for local agencies to use in the future—as well as the requirement related for integrating capital improvement planning with fee nexus studies for counties with populations of at least 250,000.

CSAC held an “oppose unless amended” position on this measure, but did not request a veto as the major provisions of the bill align with CSAC’s residential impact fee policy principles.

AB 838 (Friedman) — State Housing Law: Enforcement Response to Complaints

AB 838 makes several changes to local building code enforcement processes and procedures. Specifically, the bill requires local agencies to promptly complete an inspection when a violation of the State Housing Law or lead paint requirements is alleged.

CSAC and other local government groups successfully negotiated amendments to reduce tort liability for local agencies related to the new, mandatory inspection process but had continued concerns with limitations on recovery of appropriate inspection costs. AB 838 precludes local agencies from charging property owners for the cost of inspections required by the bill unless specified violations are discovered during those inspections.

CSAC and our local government partners offered the author and sponsors amendments that would remove our opposition to the bill, but that language was rejected. CSAC’s letter to the Governor requesting his veto is available here.

SB 478 (Wiener) – Housing Development Projects

SB 478 would prohibit a local government from imposing certain floor area ratio (FAR) standards on housing projects of 3-10 units.

CSAC moved from an “oppose unless amended” position on this measure to a “neutral” position after the author made amendments to the bill that would limit it to multifamily or residential mixed-use zones, as designated by a local agency, and addressed other concerns outlined in our April 5 letter.

SB 712 (Hueso) – Local government: California Tribes: Federal Fee-to-Trust Application

SB 712 would impose requirements on local governments regarding comments on fee-to-trust applications by California federally recognized tribes. Specifically, local agencies that oppose a fee-to-trust application must request and include in their comments to the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs any information received from the tribe related to the economic benefits provided by the tribe to the community.

CSAC held an “oppose unless amended” position on this measure, but did not request a veto when the author accepted amendments providing counties additional time to initiate the process required by the bill.

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