Sacramento — Monday afternoon, Senate Bill 540 by Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside) passed the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on a bipartisan vote. Sponsored by the League of California Cities®, SB 540 would streamline the housing approval process and lead to more housing production, particularly in areas near jobs and transit. SB 540 previously passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. It now will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.
Senator Roth said: "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. 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.”
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.
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.
Carolyn Coleman, executive director of the League of California Cities said, “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. Cities recognize our role in crafting solutions to our housing crisis. We’re pleased to partner with Senator Roth on this important legislation.”
The League also supports SB 2 (Atkins), the Building Homes and Jobs Act, and SB 3 (Beall), the Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018. Both bills would increase funding for affordable housing to boost housing supply.
Established in 1898, the League of California Cities is a nonprofit statewide association that advocates for cities with the state and federal governments and provides education and training services to elected and appointed city officials.