Gov. Brown signs housing package featuring CAA-sponsored legislation

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A highly anticipated package of housing bills signed by the governor last week includes key legislation sponsored by the California Apartment Association.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the slate of 15 housing bills Sept. 29 during a ceremony in San Francisco.

Gov. Jerry Brown at a bill-signing ceremony for his housing package. Photo by Joe McHugh, California Highway Patrol.

Important to this package are CAA-sponsored AB 678 by Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, and a companion bill, SB 167 by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. These bills will help boost California’s supply of housing, which has long lagged behind job and population growth.

The legislation adds much-needed teeth to California’s Housing Accountability Act, financially penalizing local governments that arbitrarily deny housing projects in violation of state law. The Housing Accountability Act requires that local governments follow certain legal mandates before denying housing projects that comply with their general plan and zoning rules.

Money generated by fines under these bills will be placed in a housing trust fund for the construction of affordable housing.

In addition to the housing-accountability bills, Brown signed CAA-sponsored legislation Monday to increase the state’s stock of micro apartments.  AB 352 by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, will help prevent local governments from establishing roadblocks to “efficiency dwelling units,” which usually measure 220 square feet or less.

These units are used by some cities to provide housing for university students as well as shelter and services for homeless individuals.

Here are summaries of other CAA-supported bills that Brown has signed to address the housing crisis:

  • SB 35 by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, will create a streamlined approval process for housing in cities that have failed to meet their housing goals. Streamlined projects would be approved “by right,”meaning they would move forward without a drawn-out review process.
  • SB 2 by Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, will establish a permanent funding source for affordable housing through a fee of $75 to $225 on recorded documents. The bill,however, exempts residential real-estate sales. The fees will likely generate between $229 million and $258 million annually.
  • SB 3 by Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, will place a $4 billion statewide affordable housing bond before voters in the November 2018 election.
  • SB 540 by Richard Roth, D-Riverside, will streamline the approval process to spur housing construction by having cities identify where housing needs to be built and adopting specific, up-front plans and conducting all necessary environmental reviews and public engagement.

Brown said of his housing package, “These new laws will help cut red tape and encourage more affordable housing, including shelter for the growing number of homeless in California.”

The complete list of bills in Brown’s  housing package can be found here on the governor’s website.

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