A key Assembly committee this week approved a CAA-cosponsored bill that would streamline the appeals process for affordable housing developers when local governments violate California’s Housing Accountability Act.

The bill, AB 989 by Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, D-Van Nuys, won unanimous, bipartisan approval Wednesday in the Assembly’s Local Government Committee. It next goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel

Under this state’s Housing Accountability Act, cities and counties are prohibited from rejecting affordable housing developments unless certain conditions exist. Yet officials frequently reject projects in defiance of the law. The story usually stops there.

“While the Housing Accountability Act is a strong law governing local land use decisions on affordable housing developments, most developers are reluctant to go to court to challenge a city or county that violates the law due to the time, expense, and uncertainty given judges’ lack of familiarity with the law,” the fact sheet reads. “As a result of this lack of enforcement, the law is less effective than it should be.”

AB 989 seeks to remedy this situation by creating a state Housing Accountability Committee to adjudicate violations of the Housing Accountability Act.

“This provides a quicker, less expensive, less confrontational, and more consistent alternative to enforcing state housing laws in court,” said Tony Bui, CAA’s senior vice president, state public affairs.

To be eligible for an appeal to the committee, a development must include a percentage of affordable units.

In addition to CAA, the California Housing Partnership is sponsoring the legislation.

CAA’s ADU bill advances

With unanimous and bipartisan support, the Senate Housing Committee this week approved a CAA-sponsored bill to help streamline the conversion of mixed-use commercial space into accessory dwelling units.

SB 778 by Sen. Josh Becker, D-San Mateo, clarifies that owners of mixed-use or multifamily buildings may turn commercial spaces into these extra units, also known as in-law units or granny flats, a valuable form of housing at below-market prices within existing neighborhoods.

The bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee.