Today on a bipartisan vote of 33-7, the Senate passed SB 540 by Sen. Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside). SB 540 will streamline the housing approval process and lead to more housing production, particularly in areas near jobs and transit.
Senator Roth said: "Access to housing is a basic human need, yet California is home to one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation, and many Californians are unable to afford to rent or own a home. That’s why I am proud to author Senate Bill 540, a commonsense measure which will incentivize and streamline housing construction to help solve our state’s dire housing shortage. I thank my colleagues in the Senate for recognizing the critical need for this measure, and look forward to working with my colleagues in the Assembly and 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.
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.
A centerpiece of the “Blueprint for More Housing” legislative package, the League is SB 540’s sponsor.
“Local officials recognize their role in planning for and approving housing in our communities,” said Carolyn Coleman, executive director of the League of California Cities. “SB 540 will 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.”
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. SB 2 would generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually through a $75 fee on some real estate transactions. SB 3 is a $3 billion housing bond. The Senate passed SB 3 today and SB 2 will be taken up later in the 2017 legislative session as it is not subject to the same house of origin rules.
SB 540 now moves to the Assembly.
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.