CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing and Land Use Bills Advance as Legislative Deadline Approaches

June 18, 2020

Legislators have been working to move bills out of policy and fiscal committees and onto the Senate and Assembly Floors the past couple weeks to meet the house of origin deadline, which is June 19 for the Assembly and June 26 for the Senate.

CSAC staff has been monitoring several housing and land use measures, including the Senate’s housing package, which was covered in a recent bulletin article. CSAC, along with UCC and RCRC, submitted a letter to Senate President pro Tempore Atkins that discusses counties’ conceptual support for many key elements of the package, including reuse of commercial properties, creating opportunities for increased density in existing residential neighborhoods, incentives for mixed-income developments, and CEQA streamlining housing projects.

CSAC has been working with authors, committees, and local government partners to help shape the housing and land use measures relevant to counties below.

Senate Housing Production Package Bills

SB 902 (Wiener)Streamlined Zoning for Small Multifamily Projects: Would allow a streamlined rezoning process on qualifying infill sites to allow up to 10 units without CEQA review. The infill definition used in the bill means this program will have limited applicability to county unincorporated areas.

SB 902 passed out of Senate Appropriations Committee and is moving to the Senate Floor.

SB 995 (Atkins)CEQA Relief for Large Residential Projects: Would extend the AB 900 environmental leadership program, which allows for streamlined judicial review of CEQA challenges to qualifying projects (details about the existing program are available here) to 2025 and lower the current $100 million project threshold to $15 million.

SB 995 passed out of Senate Appropriations Committee with amendments to define affordable housing and to add requirements related to the use of a skilled and trained workforce. The bill now moves to the Senate Floor.

SB 1085 (Skinner)Density Bonus Law Changes: Would revise state density bonus law to provide additional incentives and concessions at lower levels of affordability; mostly for moderate income projects.

SB 1085 passed out of Senate Appropriations Committee with amendments to delete a provision allowing developers to determine whether a regulatory waiver or concession would result in cost reductions to provide for affordable units, as well as other technical changes. The bill now moves to the Senate Floor.

SB 1120 (Atkins)Small-scale Neighborhood Infill: Would focus on a streamlined process allowing duplexes in single family neighborhoods, including allowing lot splits and the conversion of existing single-family buildings to duplexes.

SB 1120 passed out of Senate Appropriations Committee with amendments to preclude consecutive lot splits and to add a definition of transit service and is moving to the Senate Floor.

SB 1385 (Caballero)Adaptive Reuse of Commercial Sites: Would allow housing on qualifying commercially-zoned sites, regardless of current local zoning. CSAC has expressed technical concerns related to incompatible uses and ability to use these commercial sites to meet regional housing needs allocation (RHNA) obligations, but we are hopeful we can resolve those issues. Many counties already allow for multifamily residential development on commercially zoned sites.

SB 1385 passed out of Senate Appropriations Committee with amendments to preclude short-term rentals and make other clarifying changes. The bill is now moving to the Senate Floor.

Senate Landlord/Tenant Relief Proposal

SB 1410 (Caballero and Bradford)Tenant/Landlord Relief Program: Would allow renters to receive immediate relief for unpaid rent by repaying past rents to the state over a 10-year period, without interest, beginning in 2024. The bill would incentive landlords to provide rent relief and a commitment not to evict tenants in exchange for tax credits equal to the value of the lost rents, spread equally over tax years 2024 through 2033. Tax credits would be fully transferable, allowing the property owner to sell them to an outside investor and get cash immediately.

SB 1410 was recently gutted and amended to include these provisions and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

Other Housing and Land Use Measures

AB 2345 (Gonzalez and Chiu) Density Bonus Law Waivers and Concessions: Would increase the maximum density bonus as well as the number of concessions an affordable housing project can receive. 

CSAC sent an “oppose unless amended” letter on this measure, as it would increase the density bonus, waivers and concessions to developers using Density Bonus Law without requiring a commensurate level of affordability in return. The bill was recently amended to exempt jurisdictions from the requirements of this bill if they allow for additional bonuses above those required under state law. CSAC’s remaining concerns would be addressed by other amendments proposed to the author that would maintain the higher benefits for 100% affordable projects in current law and add a new tier for other projects with higher inclusionary units. Further, CSAC is also supportive of maintaining the maximum number of required concessions at 4.

The Assembly passed AB 2345, which is now in the Senate pending referral.

AB 3040 (Chiu) Regional Housing Need Assessment (RHNA): Would authorize a city or county to include in its inventory of land suitable for residential development specified sites that contain an existing single-family unit, but that the city or county authorizes to contain four units as a use by right and would allow these units to count toward a jurisdiction’s RHNA credit.

CSAC holds a “support in concept” position on this measure. By providing greater certainty as related to RHNA compliance, this bill helps to encourage infill zoning in these neighborhoods. CSAC is working with the author on language also allowing the rezoning to occur as part of housing element implementation. This flexibility would encourage local governments who are further along in their sixth cycle update process to use these provisions, as they might not otherwise have sufficient time to complete the rezoning before the housing element certification date.

The Assembly passed AB 3040, which is now in the Senate pending referral.

AB 3107 (Bloom and Ting) Housing in Sites Designated for Commercial Uses: Would, until January 1, 2030, mandate that a housing development in which at least 20% of the units have an affordable housing cost or affordable rent for low-income households be an authorized use on a site designated in any element of the general plan for commercial uses.

CSAC holds a “concerns” position on this measure and is working with the author and sponsor to address county issues. While CSAC is supportive of the bill’s goal to increase the number of affordable housing units in commercial corridors near transit and jobs centers, CSAC requests limiting the bill’s applicability to sites not adjacent to industrial uses and that it only apply to office or retail uses in commercial zones. CSAC also requests that AB 3107 be amended to use the zoning code rather than any element in the General Plan, and to allow counties to count commercial sites where AB 3107 would apply toward their regional housing needs allocation planning requirement.

The Assembly passed AB 3107, which is now in the Senate pending referral.

AB 3352 (Friedman) State Housing Law: Would, beginning July 1, 2021, require a city or county that receives a complaint of a substandard building or a lead hazard violation to inspect the building, portion of the building intended for human occupancy, or premises of the building, cite the lead hazard violations or the building, portion of the building intended for human occupancy, or premises on which the building is located as being substandard.

CSAC holds an “oppose unless amended” position on this measure. While CSAC supports the goal of ensuring that tenants have safe and healthy housing consistent with code requirements, we are concerned with some of the limitations the bill would place on local agency discretion in responding to code complaints. CSAC and local government partners have proposed amendments to the bill and are working with the author’s office to resolve these concerns.

The Assembly passed AB 3352, which is now in the Senate pending referral.

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