Critical Affordable Housing Legislation Passes Key Floor Vote

Thursday, May 4, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Today, the California State Assembly approved legislation that will restore the long-standing authority of local governments to require affordable rental units in their local housing development ordinances, which was erroneously eliminated by a 2009 appellate court decision.


The bill, AB 1505, by Assemblymembers Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) which needed 41 votes to pass the Assembly Floor, passed 47-23.


“Housing costs across the state have increased exponentially and absent corrective action there is no end in sight,” said Bloom.  “Given our state’s severe housing crisis, it is critical that we give local governments every tool to address affordable housing needs.  This bill returns one of our most important and effective tools.”


“We have said repeatedly that we have to take action in Sacramento this year to address the state’s housing affordability crisis, and today’s Assembly vote is a crucial step toward building more affordable rental housing around California,” said Chiu (D-San Francisco), a joint author of the bill and Chair of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. “On-site inclusionary housing increases economic diversity within neighborhoods and meets a greater range of a community’s housing needs.”


Inclusionary policies have been utilized in California for decades, dating back to the late 1970s and have proven to be effective tools for producing affordable housing to working families and creating strong, diverse neighborhoods with a range of housing options.  Approximately 170 cities and counties have some form of inclusionary housing requirement in place as a complement to other local, state, and federal programs to address California’s affordable housing shortage.


Unfortunately, an appellate court decision—Palmer/Sixth Street Properties L.P. v. City of Los Angeles, 175 Cal. App. 4th 1396 (2009)—cut off one crucial option for local governments: the ability to apply inclusionary policies to rental housing. The Palmer court improperly conflated rent control, which is regulated by the state’s Costa Hawkins act, and deed-restricted affordable housing, which is not, creating uncertainty and confusion for local governments and housing advocates regarding the future viability of this important and well-established local land use tool.


In response, AB 1505 was introduced to narrowly focus on allowing local inclusionary polices to require the provision of affordable rental housing if so desired locally, effectively restoring the law as it stood prior to 2009.  AB 1505 does not give local governments any new authority that they did not have prior to 2009, nor does it constrain or dictate in any way what local inclusionary policies should look like.


Under AB 1505, inclusionary housing remains a local decision, with input from local stakeholders, to determine what mix of policies, if any, make sense for their community. 


The bill is supported by the California Housing Consortium, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Housing California, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and the Western Center on Law and Poverty.  AB 1505 now heads to the Senate.


Richard Bloom represents California’s 50th Assembly District, which comprises the communities of Agoura Hills, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Topanga, West Hollywood, and West Los Angeles.