Gov. Newsom Signs Legislation to Boost Housing Supply

Gov. Newsom Signs Legislation to Boost Housing Supply

Sun Staff Reports

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom signed bipartisan legislation Sept. 16 to expand housing production in California, streamline housing permitting and increase density in neighborhoods across the state. The suite of bills also will help address the interrelated problems of climate change and housing affordability by promoting denser housing closer to major employment hubs — a critical element in limiting California’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“The housing affordability crisis is undermining the California Dream for families across the state, and threatens our long-term growth and prosperity,” said Newsom. “Making a meaningful impact on this crisis will take bold investments, strong collaboration across sectors and political courage from our leaders and communities to do the right thing and build housing for all.”

California officials also announced the “California Housing Accelerator” — a $1.75 billion component of Newsom’s “California Comeback Plan” to expedite construction of an estimated 6,500 shovel-ready affordable multifamily units; projects have been stalled due to constraints on the supply of tax-exempt bonds and low-income housing tax credits.

The California Comeback Plan will invest $22 billion in housing and the unhoused which will lead to the creation of some 84,000 new affordable homes for Californians, including 44,000 new housing units and treatment beds for people exiting being unhoused.

The governor also signed California State Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins’ (D-San Diego) SB 9, the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act to increase housing supply, which President Joe Biden recently commended. The HOME Act facilitates the process for homeowners to build a duplex or split their current residential lot, expanding housing options for people of all incomes that will create more opportunities for homeowners to add units on their existing properties. It includes provisions to prevent the displacement of existing renters and protect historic districts, fire-prone areas and environmental quality.

Atkins said “SB 9 will open up opportunities for homeowners to help ease our state’s housing shortage, while still protecting tenants from displacement.”

SB 10 by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) creates a voluntary process for local governments to access a streamlined zoning process for new multi-unit housing near transit or in urban infill areas, with up to 10 units per parcel. The legislation simplifies the CEQA requirements for upzoning, giving local leaders another tool to voluntarily increase density and provide affordable rental opportunities to more Californians.

“California’s severe housing shortage is badly damaging our state, and we need many approaches to tackle it,” Wiener said. “SB 10 provides one important approach: making it dramatically easier and faster for cities to zone for more housing. It shouldn’t take five or 10 years for cities to re-zone, and SB 10 gives cities a powerful new tool to get the job done quickly.”

The governor also signed SB 8 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), which extends the provisions of the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 through 2030. The Housing Crisis Act of 2019, which was scheduled to expire in 2025, accelerates the approval process for housing projects, curtails local governments’ ability to downzone and limits fee increases on housing applications, among other key accountability provisions.

“California needs more housing, and we need it now,” Skinner said. “[T]hese bills…will enable homeowners and our communities to add much-needed and affordable housing efficiently and without delay. Housing close to jobs, schools and services helps our housing shortage, and is essential to meeting California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.”

Newsom also signed AB 1174, by Assembly member Tim Grayson (D-Concord), an urgency measure that makes changes to the existing streamlined, ministerial approval process for housing development in jurisdictions that have not yet made enough progress towards their allocation of their regional housing needs.

“Most Californians can’t afford a typical single-family home and our state’s desperately limited housing stock has a lot to do with it,” Dan Dunmoyer, president and CEO of the California Building Industry Association, said. “This suite of bills will ease some of the obstacles to home construction and help combat the already record-high cost of housing in our state.”

Another pillar of Newsom’s housing agenda is housing accountability for local governments. Newsom lauded the Attorney General’s recent success in defending the validity of California’s Housing Accountability Act (the “anti-NIMBY law”) from challenge in California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund v. City of San Mateo. Last year, the governor asked the attorney general to intervene in the case. The resulting appellate court decision curbs the ability of local governments to block new housing that is supposed to be allowed under their own existing rules and general plan.