2017 California Senate Bill SB35, the Housing For a Growing California Act, was introduced by Senator Scott Wiener on December 5, 2016 (Principal Co-Authoer: Senator Atkins), passed the California State Senate on September 15, 2017 and the legislation was enrolled on September 20, 2017 during the California Legislatures 2017-2018 Regular Session.
The SB35 bill text, history, votes, etc. are available via the governmental California Legislative Information website
Senator Wiener Releases Details on SB 35 – the Housing For a Growing California (Note new name)
February 7th amendments, including a name change: http://www.sfbarf.org/files/SB35_020717_amendments.PDF
SB 35 will create more accountability to meet regional housing needs goals and streamline the production of affordable housing
Sacramento – Today, Senator Scott Wiener released a detailed description of Senate Bill 35 – the Housing Accountability and Affordability Act – which he first introduced in December. SB 35 will create a streamlined approval process for housing when cities are not meeting the housing creation goals required by the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), which will expedite the construction of affordable housing.
SB 35 also creates a more robust reporting requirement for housing production by requiring all cities report their annual housing production to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
“California is in a housing shortage due to decades of underproduction of housing at all income levels,” said Senator Wiener. “Too often our cities aren’t taking their responsibility seriously to build housing for people who live and work in our communities, and this hits our lowest income residents the hardest. SB 35 will retain local control for those cities that are producing their share of housing, but create a more streamlined path for housing creation in those cities that are blocking housing or ignoring their responsibility to build. SB 35 will result in more housing at all income levels, good-paying jobs to build that housing, and more accountability in creating the new homes our residents so badly need.”
The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) is the state-mandated process that sets the number of housing units that must be included, at all affordability levels, in each local jurisdiction’s housing element. Under SB 35, if cities aren’t on track to meet those goals, then approval of projects will be streamlined if they meet a set of objective criteria, including affordability, density, zoning, historic, and environmental standards, and if they pay prevailing wage for construction labor.
Currently, RHNA goals are reassessed and updated every 8 years. Under SB 35, cities will submit their progress on housing production to HCD every 2 years. If the city is not on track to meet its RHNA goals at one of these progress checks, streamlining will be in effect for the entire next two-year cycle. A city is "on track" if it is 1/4 of the way to its goal by year 2 of the 8-year cycle, 1/2 of the way to its goal by year 4, and so on.
The streamlining applies only to the income levels that aren’t being built for – so if a city is building sufficient market-rate units but not enough low-income units, the project must add low-income units to qualify for streamlined approval.
- Fulton, William. "Four Takeaways From This Year's Housing Bills." California Planning & Development Review, Sep 26, 2017. http://www.cp-dr.com/articles/20170927_1.
1. #CEQA reform dropped.
2. 'by-right' via #SB35 highly constrained
3. #SB166 Housing Element land inventory rules complicated.
4. funding included for planning
"By-right approvals are now legal – but good luck finding a project that meets the many criteria laid out in SB 35. It’s a little like those CEQA infill exemptions – looks good in concept but it comes with so many strings attached you’ll be hard-pressed to find a developer who can use it.
To qualify, the jurisdiction has to be demonstrably behind in meeting its RHNA numbers with actual construction. The project has to be a multi-family project located in an infill zone that is planned for residential development but hasn’t been used for residential in at least 10 years (basically, that’s those old commercial or industrial sites near new transit stops). There has to be an affordable component too, and to qualify for the by-right approval you have to use prevailing wage or union labor. Oh, and the project can’t be in the coastal zone or on wetlands or ag land or anything like that.
Basically, if it’s an infill project on old commercial or industrial land that has affordable housing or prevailing wage as part of its funding requirements anyway – sure, then maybe. But how many projects like that are there?
By the way, you can hold hearings on an SB 35 project – so long as the hearings are confined to compliance with objective standards and you approve the project ministerially in the end."