CSAC Bulletin Article

Update on Key Housing Bills

July 30, 2020

Several housing bills will soon be heard by the Assembly Local Government Committee or the Senate Housing Committee. CSAC has been working closely with the authors to encourage amendments to the following bills consistent with county priorities.

SB 1385 (Caballero) – Housing in Sites Designated for Commercial Uses: Would allow housing on qualifying commercially-zoned sites, regardless of current local zoning.

CSAC, along with UCC and RCRC, submitted a “concerns” letter on this measure. We are supportive of 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. Many counties already allow multifamily residential uses within some of their commercial zones, but CSAC has requested the following amendments before we can be supportive of the bill:

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

This bill is currently pending a hearing in Assembly Local Government Committee.

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

This bill is currently pending a hearing in Senate Housing Committee.

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.

CSAC requests the following amendments before we can move 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

This bill is currently pending a hearing in Assembly Local Government Committee.

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 regional housing needs allocations (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 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.

This bill is currently pending a hearing in Senate Housing Committee.

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