CSAC Bulletin Article

Update on Key Housing and Transportation Bills

August 13, 2020

The legislative session is drawing to a close as the August 31 deadline for the Legislature to pass bills approaches, and members are working hard to get their bills out committees and onto the Senate and Assembly floors. This has been a truncated session as a result of changes made to legislative deadlines and to the committee referral process after the Legislature adjourned for an emergency recess earlier this year.

CSAC continues to work with authors, committee staff, and local government partners on housing, land use, and transportation bills that impact counties. We have made significant progress in securing several of our requested amendments to various bills, and we continue to work on a few bills with which we have outstanding concerns. Below is a status update on bills we are tracking closely.

Housing and Land Use Bills

SB 281 (Wiener) — Housing development: permits and other entitlements: extension: Would extend by 18-months the period for the expiration, effectuation, or utilization of specified housing permits and entitlements that were issued before, and were in effect on, March 4, 2020.

CSAC, UCC, and RCRC submitted a “support” position on this measure. Counties around the state have already taken action to extend local entitlements for development projects affected by COVID-19, and SB 281 supplements these actions at the state level. We worked closely with the author’s office and committee staff to finalize the types of permits and entitlements ultimately included in the measure, as well as clarifying the interaction with local extensions that have already been granted.

SB 281 was referred to the Assembly Local Government Committee but was not set for a hearing.

 

SB 1120 (Atkins) – Small-scale neighborhood infill: Would create a streamlined process allowing duplexes in single family neighborhoods, as well as allowing lot splits of single-family residential lots and the conversion of existing single-family buildings to duplexes. The author has accepted several technical amendments proposed by CSAC and other local government groups to ease implementation of the bill.

CSAC, UCC, and RCRC submitted a “support if amended” position on the bill and is requesting the following amendments before moving to a support position:

  • Restricting the use of the bill in very high fire hazard severity zones
  • Requiring that a lot split is conditioned on issuance of certificate of occupancy for the new dwelling unit, thereby ensuring that the bill creates new homes and not just new vacant lots
  • Precluding the use of lot-split provisions on lots created by a parcel map

The bill is currently pending a hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

 

SB 1385 (Caballero) – Housing in sites designated for commercial uses: Would allow housing on qualifying commercially-zoned sites, regardless of current local zoning.

The bill recently failed passage in the Assembly Local Government Committee when the author declined to accept all of the amendments offered by the committee. The committee’s proposed amendments would have addressed the concerns identified in CSAC’s joint letter with UCC and RCRC.

That “concerns” letter listed the requested amendments that would allow CSAC and our partner county organizations to move into support. It also expressed support for the fundamental goal of SB 1385, which seeks to provide opportunities for redevelopment of underutilized commercial sites, many of which are near transit and jobs centers.

We requested the amendments below to address our primary concerns with the bill:

  • Exclude commercial zones that authorize incompatible uses
  • Offer housing element credit for eligible sites, or instead, conforming the bill with the implementation dates and sunset of AB 3107 (discussed below)
  • Include workable reallocation provisions
  • Rely on commercial zoning for offices and retail rather than general plan designations
  • Remove language related to community facilities districts

 

AB 434 (Daly) – Housing financing programs: uniform procedures: Would help streamline affordable housing grant programs under the Department of Housing and Community Development by aligning application requirements and procedures.

CSAC, UCC, RCRC, the League of California Cities, and APA submitted a “support” letter on this measure. By aligning procedures of the financing programs under the purview of HCD, AB 434 will help stretch the limited funding as far as possible and create additional homes for lower-income Californians.

The bill is currently set to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 17.

 

AB 1279 (Bloom) – Housing development in high-opportunity areas: Would allow certain qualifying housing developments “by-right” in designated high-opportunity communities with lower residential densities.

CSAC and UCC hold a “oppose unless amended” position on this measure and would like to see amendments to it that more precisely define applicable areas and create a workable appeals process that promotes local planning.

The bill is currently in the Senate Housing Committee; however, the author will no longer be moving this bill during the current legislative session.

 

AB 2345 (Gonzalez) – Density bonus law waivers and concessions and affordability thresholds: Would increase the density bonus, waivers and concessions to developers using Density Bonus Law, without requiring a commensurate level of affordability in return.

CSAC, APA, UCC, and the League of Cities submitted an “oppose unless amended” position on this measure. We support providing higher density and other benefits in exchange for higher levels of affordability in projects, similar to enhanced density bonus ordinances adopted and working successfully in many cities and counties around the state.

For this reason, we support suggested amendments which would maintain the higher benefits for 100% affordable projects in current law and add a new tier for other projects with higher inclusionary units. We also support maintaining the maximum required concessions at 4.

The bill is set to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 17.

 

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 local agency’s zoning code for commercial uses if certain conditions apply.

CSAC and UCC submitted a “concerns” position on this measure. Counties are supportive of the goal of AB 3107, which is similar to SB 1385 (discussed above). CSAC has requested the following amendments before we can be supportive of the bill:

  • Excluding commercial zones that authorize incompatible uses
  • Allowing local agencies the ability to reallocate residential capacity available pursuant to AB 3107 to alternative sites that are eligible to be included in the housing element inventory of adequate sites
  • Allowing counties to count commercial sites where AB 3107 would apply toward their regional housing needs allocation planning requirement irrespective of whether the current zoning allows for residential uses, provided that the sites are able to accommodate residential development

The bill is currently in the Senate Housing Committee; however, the author will no longer be moving this bill during the current legislative session.

 

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, along with UCC, RCRC, and the League of California Cities submitted a “support” letter on this measure. Counties and cities across California have received, or expect to receive; significantly higher RHNA in the 6th housing element cycle. This bill will provide a process whereby local governments would have greater certainty that they could accommodate a portion of their moderate- and above-moderate income RHNA by upzoning to allow small multifamily projects in existing residential neighborhoods.

Recent amendments to the bill requested by CSAC will allow this rezoning to occur as part of housing element implementation. This additional flexibility will encourage local governments who are further along in their 6th housing element 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 bill is set to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 13.

 

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, UCC, RCRC, and the League of Cities hold 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 proposed amendments to the bill and are committed to working with the author’s office to resolve these concerns.

AB 3352 was referred to the Senate Housing Committee but was not set for a hearing.

 

Transportation Bills

SB 288 (Wiener) – CEQA exemptions for transportation-related projects: Would exempt certain projects from CEQA requirements, including projects for the institution or increase of new bus rapid transit, bus, or light rail services on public rail or highway rights-of-way, whether or not the right-of-way is in use for public mass transit, and projects for the designation and conversion of general purpose lanes, high-occupancy toll lanes, high-occupancy vehicle lanes, or highway shoulders.

SB 288 would also exempt the following types of projects from CEQA:

  • Transit prioritization projects
  • Projects that improve customer information and wayfinding for transit riders, bicyclists, or pedestrians
  • Projects by a public transit agency to construct or maintain infrastructure to charge or refuel zero-emission transit buses
  • Projects carried out by a city or county to reduce minimum parking requirements, and projects for pedestrian and bicycle facilities

The bill would require exempt projects to meet additional criteria, including that the lead agency certify that the projects will be carried out by a skilled and trained workforce.

The bill is currently pending a hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

 

SB 1351 (Beall) – Transportation improvement fee: revenue bonds: Would create the Transportation Improvement Fee Finance Committee to authorize revenue bonds to be issued to Department of Transportation to expedite transportation projects.

CSAC and the League of California Cities have been working closely with the author’s office, committee staff, and state agency staff to ensure that county road maintenance and rehabilitation funding that goes out to cities and counties is not negatively impacted. Recent amendments to the bill address CSAC’s concerns.

SB 1351 passed out of the Assembly Transportation Committee earlier this week and is currently pending a hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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