This bill would provide a way to streamline the housing approval process and leads to more housing production, particularly in areas near jobs and transit. Importantly, SB 540 protects public input and environmental review while providing certainty to the development community.
Local officials are taking seriously their role in solving the housing crisis. SB 540 would give local governments new tools to plan for housing and create a more streamlined path that eliminates some of the delays and uncertainty that currently impede housing construction.
During his testimony, Sen. Richard Roth (D-Riverside) remarked that, “Access to housing is a basic human need, and ensuring Californians have access to an affordable place to live is critical to every Californian’s quality of life. That’s why I am proud to have authored Senate Bill 540, which will incentivize and streamline housing construction to meet our state’s dire housing shortage. I thank the committee for recognizing the critical need for this measure, and look forward to sending this measure to the Governor for his signature.”
Specifically, under SB 540 cities and counties would identify priority housing areas — called Workforce Housing Zones — within their boundaries. The local government would conduct enhanced planning, important environmental reviews and public engagement at the front end with specific details as to what type of housing would be built within the zone. Because the local government has fully conducted the extensive environmental reviews at the front-end, no project-specific additional environmental reviews would be necessary.
Sen. Roth continued that “SB 540 is a commonsense measure that will remove the barriers to housing construction in the areas most in need, helping ensure this crisis does not continue to grow and families do not continue to struggle.”
By some estimates, SB 540 would shave one to two years off the development timeline without compromising environmental protection, public health, local control or the rights of citizens to participate in local land use decisions.
The Assembly Natural Resources Committee will be the next stop for SB 540.
The League urges cities to support this important legislation. A sample support letter, along with the League’s support letter, can be found at www.cacities.org/billsearch
by plugging SB 540 into the search function.