See the new California laws looking to boost affordable home construction – East Bay Times

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State bills signed into law during the past year seek to boost construction of affordable housing by expanding the number and types of developments that bypass California’s environmental review process and curtail discretionary hearings by city councils and county boards of supervisors.

Here are some of the key measures adopted in 2023:

SB 4: Requires cities and counties to approve “by-right,” or without a discretionary city council or board of supervisors review, affordable housing projects on urban land owned by private colleges and religious institutions prior to 2024.

Up to 20% of the units can be for moderate income residents, and up to 5% can be for staff, with the remainder reserved for low-income residents. Law “sunsets” (expires) in 2036.

SB 423: Extends until 2036 SB 35, which created the first consequence for cities and counties that fail to actually build enough homes to meet state-mandated homebuilding goals under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, or RHNA, process.

The 2017 law gives developers in such jurisdictions by-right approval for projects that include affordable housing. For more than 50 years, municipalities met requirements to plan for needed housing at all income levels, but the homes never actually got built. State figures show SB 35 resulted in construction of 19,239 new homes, including 11,500 low-income units.

Starting in 2025, SB 423 extends by-right approvals to projects in “costal zones” under California Coastal Commission jurisdiction. It also allows streamlined approval in jurisdictions without state-approved plans, known as “housing elements.”

See also: Gov. Newsom signs off on bills to increase state’s housing production, bolster tenant protections

AB 12: Limits security deposits paid by renters. Currently, landlords can charge up to two month’s rent for an unfurnished unit and up to three month’s rent for a furnished unit.

Starting next July, security deposits will be limited to one month’s rent regardless of whether the unit is furnished or not. For mom and pop landlords with up to two rentals, the limit will be two-month’s rent.

SB 567: Closes a loophole in the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482) by specifying when landlords can evict tenants so they or their family can move into the ousted tenants’ unit.

Some landlords used this provision to evict tenants, then re-lease the home at a higher rent, bill proponents maintained.

Starting next April, such evictions can occur only if landlords or their family move into the unit within three months and live there for a year. If they fail to meet those provisions, they must offer the unit to the ousted tenants at their prior rent and reimburse them for their moving expenses.

AB 1620: Allows cities and counties to adopt rules allowing disabled tenants in rent-controlled housing to relocate to accessible units of similar or lesser size without a rent hike. Typically, tenants lose their rent cap when moving to a new unit.

See also: How California lawmakers greenlit ‘any flavor of affordable housing you could possibly want’

AB 894: Requires local agencies to allow developments to count underutilized and shared parking spaces on nearby properties toward their parking requirement, lowering costs for developers.

AB 1449: Exempts low-income housing projects near mass transit in urban areas from the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.

AB 1033: Allows homeowners to sell their accessory dwelling units (ADUs or granny flats) as a separate condominium in jurisdictions that authorize such transactions.

AB 976: Permanently bans cities and counties from requiring that homes with ADUs be owner-occupied. The ban had been set to expire in 2025.

AB 1490: Allows developers to retrofit hotels, motels and single-occupancy residences in developed areas into low-income apartments regardless of zoning.[

See also: “The era of saying ‘no’ to housing is coming to an end”

SB 91: Makes permanent a CEQA exemption for projects that convert hotels or motels into supportive for transitional housing. The exemption was set to expire in 2025.

SB 684: Facilitates construction of small, low-cost homes on small urban lots to create for-sale housing for middle-income buyers. The law creates a new subdivision process that streamlines approval of up to 10 homes on lots of five acres or less zoned for multifamily development. Homes can’t exceed 1,750 square feet.

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