Legislature Completes Passage of Historic Affordable Housing Package

Friday, September 15, 2017


Coalition of legislators send total of 15 bills to Governor to address affordable housing crisis 

SACRAMENTO – Tonight, nine bills targeting California’s affordable housing crisis, passed the Assembly floor.  The package, highlighted by AB 1505, by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), which would restore the long-standing authority of local governments to require affordable rental units in their local housing development ordinances, consists of fifteen bills authored by a coalition of legislators to reduce the cost of housing.


“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.”


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. 


AB 1505 is sponsored 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 Governor. 


“After many months of negotiations with various stakeholders, legislators, and the Governor, we finally have a comprehensive plan to combat California’s affordable housing crisis.  While we have much more work to do, AB 1505 and the many other bills we have passed to provide funding and improve zoning and permitting laws serve as a significant first step,” added Bloom.


Eight additional bills were passed on Friday night.  Those bills include:


  • AB 72 by Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and David Chiu (D-San Francisco.  Gives the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) authority to review any action or failure to act by the city or county that it determines is out of compliance with the housing element.  This bill also states that HCD may refer violations of law to the Attorney General (AG).


  • AB 73 by Assmblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Anna Caballero (D-Salinas).  Spurs the creation of housing on infill sites around public transportation by incentivizing local governments to complete upfront zoning and environmental review and rewarding them when they permit housing.


  • AB 571 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia.  Enhances the ability to maximize private activity tax-exempt bond authority within the Farmworker Housing Assistance Tax Credit Program to provide expanded financing for farmworker housing. 


  • AB 678 by Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra (D-San Fernando).  Adds a number of provisions to the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) to ensure local agency compliance during the approval process for proposed housing developments. This measure also clarifies existing provisions of the Act and imposes added penalties on agencies that violate the HAA without appropriate findings.


  • AB 879 by Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D-Concord).  Improves California’s Planning and Zoning Law by expanding the breadth and depth of information provided by cities and counties in their annual housing element reports, allowing the Department of Housing and Community Development to make a more accurate assessment of whether a jurisdiction is meeting its housing needs.


  • AB 1397 by Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell).   AB 1397 strengthens state planning laws to ensure that local governments are doing everything they can to identify sites that are truly suitable for both affordable and market-rate housing.  One of the greatest barriers to addressing California’s housing crisis is the lack of appropriate sites on which new housing can be built—in the right places and at the right densities—to meet demand for all income levels.


  • AB 1515 by Tom Daly (D-Anaheim).  Bolsters the state’s Housing Accountability Act (HAA) by specifying that a housing development project or emergency shelter is deemed consistent with an applicable plan, program, policy, ordinance, standard, requirement, or other similar provision if there is sufficient evidence that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the housing development project or emergency shelter is consistent.


The first wave of, passed on Thursday, September 14, include:


  • SB 2 by Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).  This bill creates the Building Homes and Jobs Act and establishes $75 fee on real estate transaction documents to generate approximately $250 million per year to serve as a permanent funding to increase the supply of affordable housing. 


  • SB 3 by Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose). Enacts the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 and authorizes the issuance of $4 billion in general obligation (GO) bonds for affordable housing of which $1 billion will be used exclusively for veteran housing, subject to approval by the voters, in the November 6, 2018 election. 


  • SB 35 by Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco).  Creates a streamlined process for multi-family housing projects if the development meets specified requirements and the local government in which the development is located has not produced enough housing units to meet its state mandated regional housing needs assessment (RHNA). 


  • SB 166 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley).  Makes sure local governments designate the sites needed, including identifying replacement sites for parcels that were initially designated for housing, but instead were permitted for another use so that housing can be built more expeditiously. 


  • SB 167 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley).  Strengthens the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) to help limit the denial or delay of good housing projects that otherwise meet all local laws.  This bill will combat burdensome conditions sometimes adopted by local governments to meet the demands of small but vocal groups of residents that oppose affordable housing developments. 


  • SB 540 by Senator Richard Roth (D-Riverside).  Streamlines local housing approval processes by requiring local governments to identify where affordable housing needs to be built and adopting an up-front specific plan, including conducting all necessary and important environmental reviews and public engagement.  Because local governments would not be able to deny a development that satisfies the criteria of the specific plan and environmental document, housing construction would be expedited. 


Assemblymember Bloom has been a long-time champion for affordable housing dating back to his time as a councilmember and mayor for the City of Santa Monica.  Last year he authored AB 2299 which eased restrictions and created statewide uniformity for accessory dwelling units (ADUs), also known as “granny flats,” which has been instrumental in spurring the development of additional affordable housing units across the state.  This year, along with Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), he has led a coalition of legislators and negotiated a package of fifteen bills with Governor to address California’s affordable housing crisis. 


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.