Millions, if not billions, in new dollars will flow to housing programs under a host of housing bills adopted in the final hours of the California Legislature. New rules will make it harder for local governments to block developments.
And lawmakers put some teeth into weak, often ignored laws mandating that cities approve more housing.
On Sept. 15, the last day to approve new laws, the legislature passed 15 housing bills aimed at easing a statewide housing shortage that’s fueling skyrocketing rents and home prices.
Gov. Jerry Brown said he plans to sign them.
“For millions of people it is next to impossible to buy a house or even find an apartment they can afford,” Brown said in a statement. “These 15 bills will spur the building of more housing and increase the number of Californians who can actually afford to buy or rent.”
Here are highlights of key measures on the governor’s desk:
SB 35: One of the most contentious measures of the session was this “streamlining” bill, designed to speed up the time it takes to win approval for new housing in local communities. Gov. Brown wanted it. Local governments fought it.
SB 35 “will erode local control and would even penalize cities meeting the state’s numerous housing laws,” League of California Cities Executive Director Carolyn Coleman said in a recent statement.
In brief, this bill will allow developments to bypass city councils in cities that failed to meet their state-mandated housing goals.
The measure applies to “infill” projects only — or those located within existing development. Projects also qualify for streamlined approval if they meet certain affordability, density and zoning requirements. If a city is building sufficient market-rate units but not enough low-income units, the project must consist of at least 50 percent low-income units to qualify for streamlined approval.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said the bill “holds local communities accountable” for meeting state homebuilding goals.
SB 2: Raises about $200 million to $300 million annually for affordable housing by tacking a $75 fee onto every real estate document filed with a county recorder’s office, up to a maximum of $225 per transaction. Deeds and other documents related to property sales are exempt. But the fee will apply to mortgage refinance documents, quitclaim deeds, notices of default and foreclosure sales, mechanic’s liens and deed restrictions, among…