Legislature passes housing package before close of 2017 session

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The California Legislature has passed a package of CAA-endorsed and sponsored bills intended to help solve the state’s housing crisis.

Gov. Jerry Brown will have until Oct. 15 to sign or veto the bills.

The legislative package seeks to remove regulatory hurdles to residential development — a key to fixing the state’s jobs-to-housing imbalance.

The package also seeks ongoing funding sources for affordable housing programs, including a bond measure and fee on certain real estate transactions.

“Today we took a step toward addressing a housing crisis that has been plaguing California for years,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, said Thursday, as reported in this San Jose Mercury News story.  “The package of bills we approved today addresses funding, project streamlining, stricter enforcement, and real accountability – all the affordable housing elements necessary to help more Californians pay the rent or buy a house.”

Bills that increase California’s housing supply can help ease rental prices and quell calls for onerous policies such as rent control.

Brief summaries of key housing bills approved by the Legislature:

SB 35 by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, would 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, would 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 would likely generate between $229 million and $258 million annually.

SB 3 by Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, would place a $4 billion statewide affordable housing bond before voters in the November 2018 election.

SB 540 by Richard Roth, D-Riverside, would 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.

AB 678 by Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, sponsored by CAA, and a companion bill SB 167 by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, would financially penalize local governments that deny housing permits in violation of state law.

AB 352 by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, is a CAA sponsored bill to boost construction of micro apartments. It would help prevent local governments from establishing roadblocks to “efficiency dwelling units,” which usually measure 220 square feet or less. This bill won final approval in the Legislature earlier this month and now awaits the governor’s signature.

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