CSAC Bulletin Article

Governor Signs Senate Housing Package Bills

September 23, 2021

Last week Governor Newsom signed four housing bills, including three bills included in the Senate Housing Package. CSAC has engaged closely on several bills in the package, including SB 9, which creates a new ministerial process for lot splits and duplexes in urban areas zoned for single family homes; SB 6, which would permit residential development in most commercial zones; and SB 477, which would increase reporting burdens in the housing element annual report.

Below you will find summaries of some of the housing bills most relevant to Counties. The CSAC Housing, Land Use and Transportation Team will keep Counties updated on the outcomes of major bills of interest or concern. A full list of active bills is available here.

Signed by the Governor

SB 8 (Skinner) – Housing Crisis Act of 2019: Among other changes, SB 8 extends the sunset on SB 330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, by five years, to January 1, 2030. SB 330 imposed restrictions on certain types of development standards, amended the Housing Accountability Act and made changes to local approval processes and the Permit Streamlining Act. Until January 1, 2034, SB 8 also allows the SB 330’s provisions to apply to a housing project that submits a preliminary application before January 1, 2030. It also expands the definition of “housing development project,” to include both discretionary and ministerial projects, as well as projects to construct single units.

CSAC did not take a position on this measure, as we had previously negotiated changes to SB 330 to remove opposition, including a definition of “affected county” that limits many provisions of the bill to census designated places that are within an urbanized area. SB 8 was signed by the Governor last week.

SB 9 (Atkins) – Housing Development Approvals: Requires ministerial approval of a housing development of no more than two units (duplex) in a single-family zone, the subdivision of a parcel zoned for residential use into two parcels (lot split), or both, in census-designated urbanized areas or urban clusters.

CSAC held a “support if amended” position on this measure. While the author took many technical amendments from CSAC and other local government groups to improve the bill, our final requested changes were not incorporated into the bill. SB 9 was signed by the Governor last week. Specific details include:

Geographic Limitations

  1. Requires that a development or parcel to be subdivided must be located within an urbanized area or urban cluster and prohibits it from being located on any of the following:
    1. Prime farmland or farmland of statewide importance
    2. Wetlands
    3. Land within the very high fire hazard severity zone, unless the development complies with state mitigation requirements (see Government Code Section 65913.4(D): “This subparagraph does not apply to sites excluded from the specified hazard zones by a local agency, pursuant to subdivision (b) of [Government Code] Section 51179, or sites that have adopted fire hazard mitigation measures pursuant to existing building standards or state fire mitigation measures applicable to the development.”)  
    4. A hazardous waste site
    5. An earthquake fault zone
    6. Land within the 100-year floodplain or a floodway
    7. Land identified for conservation under a natural community conservation plan, or lands under conservation easement
    8. Habitat for protected species
    9. A site located within a historic or landmark district, or a site that has a historic property or landmark under state or local law.

Demolition Controls, Tenant Protections and Owner Occupancy Requirements

  1. Prohibits demolition or alteration of an existing unit of rent-restricted housing, housing that has been the subject of an Ellis Act eviction within the past 15 years, or that has been occupied by a tenant in the last three years.
  2. Prohibits demolition of more than 25 percent of the exterior walls of an existing structure unless the local ordinance allows greater demolition or if the site has not been occupied by a tenant in the last three years.
  3. Prohibits a jurisdiction from imposing additional owner occupancy standards on urban that no additional owner occupancy standards may be imposed other than those previously outlined, and that requirement expires after five years.
  4. Requires a city or county to prohibit rentals of less than 30 days.

Limitations on Local Development Standards

  1. Authorizes a city or county to impose objective zoning, subdivision, and design review standards that do not conflict with this bill, except:
    1. A city or county shall not impose objective standards that would physically preclude the construction of up to two units or that would physically preclude either of the two units from being at least 800 square feet in floor area. A city or county may, however, require a setback of up to four feet from the side and rear lot line.
    2. A city or county shall not require a setback for an existing structure or a structure constructed in the same location and to the same dimensions as the existing structure.
  2. Prohibits a city or county from requiring more than one parking space per unit for either a proposed duplex or a proposed lot split. Prohibits a city or county from imposing any parking requirements if the parcel is located within one-half mile walking distance of either a high-quality transit corridor or a major transit stop, or if there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the parcel.
  3. Authorizes a city or county to require a percolation test completed within the last five years or, if the test has been recertified, within the last 10 years, as part of the application for a permit to create a duplex connected to an onsite wastewater treatment system.
  4. Authorizes a local agency to deny a housing project otherwise authorized by this bill if the building official makes a written finding based upon the preponderance of the evidence that the housing development project would have a specific, adverse impact upon health and safety or the physical environment and there is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the specific adverse impact.
  5. Prohibits a city or county from rejecting an application solely because it proposes adjacent or connected structures, provided the structures meet building code safety standards and are sufficient to allow separate conveyance.
  6. Provides that a city or county shall not be required to permit an ADU or JADU in addition to units approved under this bill.
  7. Requires a city or county to include the number of units constructed and the number of applications for lot splits under this bill, in its APR.

Additional Requirements Related to Lot Splits

  1. Requires a city or county to ministerially approve a parcel map for a lot split only if the local agency determines that the parcel map for the urban lot split meets the following requirements, in addition to the requirements for eligible parcels that apply to both duplexes and lot splits:
    1. The parcel map subdivides an existing parcel to create no more than two new parcels of approximately equal size, provided that one parcel shall not be smaller than 40 percent of the lot area of the original parcel.
    2. Both newly created parcels are at least 1,200 square feet unless the city or county adopts a small minimum lot size by ordinance.
    3. The parcel does not contain rent-restricted housing, housing where an owner has exercised their rights under the Ellis Act within the past 15 years or has been occupied by tenants in the past three years.
    4. The parcel has not been established through prior exercise of an urban lot split.
    5. Neither the owner of the parcel nor any person acting in concert with the owner has previously subdivided an adjacent parcel using an urban lot split.
  2. Requires a city or county to approve a lot split if it conforms to all applicable objective requirements of the Subdivision Map Act not except as otherwise expressly provided in this bill. Prohibits a city or county from imposing regulations that require dedicated rights-of-way or the construction of offsite improvements for the parcels being created, as a condition of approval.
  3. Authorizes a city or county to impose objective zoning standards, objective subdivision standards, and objective design review standards that do not conflict with this bill. A city or county may however require easements or that the parcel have access to, provide access to, or adjoin the public right-of-way.
  4. Prohibits a city or county from requiring, as a condition for ministerial approval of a lot split, the correction of nonconforming zoning conditions.
  5. Requires a local government to require an applicant for an urban lot split to sign an affidavit stating that the applicant intends to occupy one of the housing units as their principal residence for a minimum of three years from the date of the approval of lot split, unless the applicant is a community land trust, as defined, or a qualified nonprofit corporation, as defined.
  6. Allows a city or county to adopt an ordinance to implement the urban lot split requirements and duplex provisions and provides that those ordinances are not a project under CEQA.

Subdivision Map Act Amendment

Changes from 12 to 24 months the length of time for which a city or county may, by local ordinance under the Subdivision Map Act, extend the expiration of an approved or conditionally approved tentative map.

Coastal Act Hearing Limitation

Provides that nothing in this bill shall be construed to supersede the California Coastal Act of 1976, except that a local government shall not be required to hold public hearings for coastal development permit applications under this bill.

SB 10 (Wiener) – Housing Density: This bill authorizes a city or county, until January 1, 2029, to pass an ordinance, notwithstanding any local restrictions on zoning ordinances, to zone any parcel for up to 10 units of residential density, at a height specified by the ordinance, if the parcel is located within one-half mile of rail transit or bus service with 15-minute peak-hour headways, or an urban infill site. For the purposes of SB 10, urban infill areas in unincorporated areas are limited to Census urbanized areas or urban clusters, where the site is surrounded on at least 75 percent of its perimeter by urban uses and zoned or designated in the general plan for residential or residential mixed use.

CSAC did not take a position on this measure, which merely provides an optional process for local governments and has limited applicability to unincorporated areas. SB 10 was signed by the Governor last week.

Awaiting Action by the Governor

SB 477 (Wiener) – General Plan Annual Report: Would significantly increase reporting burdens under county and city Housing Element Annual Progress Reports (APR).

CSAC has concerns with adding new reporting while the Department of Housing and Community Development is currently working with local representatives and others to develop a housing data strategy. Moreover, we object to expanding reporting in the APR to include CEQA-related, which have traditionally been under the purview of the Office of Planning and Research and the Natural Resources Agency. Finally, CSAC’s proposed amendments to exclude the smallest, rural counties from the new reporting requirements were rejected by the author.

This bill was approved by both houses of the Legislature and is currently pending action by the Governor. CSAC has requested a veto on this measure.

Two-Year Bill

SB 6 (Caballero) – Housing in Sites Designated for Commercial Uses: Would create a new process allowing residential development on commercial sites, including allowing qualifying projects to use the streamlined application procedures of SB 35 (Wiener, 2017).

CSAC holds an “oppose unless amended” position on this measure. We have requested that the provisions of the bill apply only to office or retail uses in commercial zones and that housing element credit be offered for eligible sites. We have also expressed concerns with the
“reallocation” provisions of the bill and with establishing a by-right process for non-zoning compliant projects.

SB 6 was referred to the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development but was never set for a hearing. It will be eligible to be heard again next year.

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