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Housing Legislation Tops Agenda for Final Month of 2017 Legislative Session

August 18, 2017
When the Legislature reconvenes Monday after its month-long break, it is expected to take up and pass a package of housing bills before adjourning Sept. 15.
 
Housing is one of the League’s strategic priorities this year and advocacy efforts have focused on bills that create more incentives to build housing and funding to support affordable housing as well as opposing legislation that streamline by eliminating public input, review and discretion. Bills that are expected to comprise the final housing package would streamline housing approvals, reduce regulatory barriers and provide new funding for affordable housing.

Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders issued a statement on July 17 prior to the recess that they would make this legislation one of the top priorities for the final weeks of session and address the housing supply and affordability crisis gripping many regions of California.
 
While the actual package of bills that will be included in the housing deal has yet to be formally announced, the Governor and leaders have insisted that new money for affordable housing will only be available if it is paired with streamlined regulations at the local level. There are a number of bills that could be part of this package.
               
Possible funding proposals include:
  • SB 2 (Atkins): Imposes a fee of $75 recordation on specified real estate documents to generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year for affordable housing, supportive housing, emergency shelters, and transitional housing.
  • SB 3 (Beall) Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018: Authorizes a $3 billion general obligation bond to fund affordable housing programs and infill infrastructure projects including multi-family housing, CalHome, Joe Serna Farmworker Housing, Local Housing Trust Fund Matching Grant, BEGIN, and TODs.
  • AB 71 (Chiu): Eliminates the mortgage interest deduction on second homes, increases the state Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program by $300 million. 
Possible streamlining/regulatory reform proposals include:
  • SB 35 (Weiner): Seeks to streamline multi-family housing project approvals by eliminating public input, prohibiting CEQA, and removing local discretion.
  • SB 167 (Skinner)/AB 678 (Bocanegra): Makes numerous changes to the Housing Accountability Act including, 1) Requires findings to be based on “a preponderance of evidence;” 2) Imposes mandatory fines ($10,000) on cities that fail to comply with a judge’s order within 60 days; 3) Allows enhanced fines (a factor of five) if a city acts in bad faith.
  • SB 540 (Roth): Streamlines the housing approval process by having cities and counties identify priority housing areas where enhanced planning, necessary environmental reviews and public engagement would occur at the front-end. These Workforce Housing Opportunity Zones would focus on workforce and affordable housing in areas close to jobs and transit and conform to California’s greenhouse gas reduction laws.
  • AB 72 (Santiago): Provides the Department of Housing and Community Development broad new authority to review any action by a city or county that it determines is inconsistent with an adopted housing element.
  • AB 73 (Chiu): Allows a city or county to create a housing sustainability district to complete upfront zoning and environmental review in order to receive incentive payments for development projects that are consistent with the district's ordinance.
  • AB 879 (Grayson): Provides the Department of Housing and Community Development new authority to, 1) Complete a study to evaluate the reasonableness of local fees charged to new developments, including new amendments to the Mitigation Fee Act to “substantially reduce fees for residential development;" 2) Requires a city, in their analysis of governmental constraints, to include an analysis of any currently-authorized, locally-adopted ordinances that directly impact the cost and supply of residential development.
  • AB 1397 (Low): Requires lands in a city’s housing element to include vacant sites and sites that have “realistic and demonstrated potential” for redevelopment to meet a portion of the locality’s housing need for a designated income level.
  • AB 1515 (Daly): Requires housing projects to be deemed consistent, compliant, and in conformity with an applicable plan, if there is substantial evidence that would allow a reasonable person to conclude that the housing development project or emergency shelter is consistent, compliant, or in conformity. 
Timing of Vote on Housing Package Remains Unclear
 
It is unlikely that legislators will take up housing as early as Monday, Aug. 21 when they return. 

The streamlining and regulatory reform proposals likely have the votes, while the funding proposals — SB 2, $75 recordation fee; and SB 3, $3 billion bond — appear to lack the two-thirds vote needed to pass. Some legislators have signaled that they are reluctant to vote on proposals that increase fees or straddle the state with additional debt.
 
Next Steps
 
The League will continue to work with lawmakers and the Governor on amendments to several bills in the housing package when the Legislature returns.
 
Cities are encouraged to review the League’s recent housing action alert and contact their Assembly Member and Senator to convey support for SB 2 and SB 3, while also insisting that lawmakers don’t take a bad deal undermining local land use authority.
 
The League’s letters, as well as sample letters cities can use, are available at www.cacities.org/billsearch by plugging the bill number into the search function.


 
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