Posted by: Patricia Salkin | September 16, 2021

CA Governor Signs New Laws Designed to Combat Affordable Housing Crisis

The following is excerpted from Governor Newsome’s September 16, 2021 Press release:

The Governor today signed California State Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins’ SB 9, the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act, which the White House this month commended to increase housing supply. 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.

“I appreciate Governor Newsom’s continued commitment to solving one of the most vexing issues facing our state – increasing the amount of housing and widening access for more Californians,” said Senate Pro Tem Atkins (D-San Diego). “SB 9 will open up opportunities for homeowners to help ease our state’s housing shortage, while still protecting tenants from displacement. And it will help our communities welcome new families to the neighborhood and enable more folks to set foot on the path to buying their first home. I’m grateful for the Governor’s partnership, and our shared determination to turn the corner on California’s housing crisis.”

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,” said Senator Wiener. “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. I want to thank the Governor for signing this essential bill and for continuing to lead on housing.”

A signing message for SB 10 can be found here.

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,” said Senator Skinner. “Thank you, Governor Newsom, for signing these bills that 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.”

“For too long, California has kicked the can down the road when it came to building more housing,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.  “The housing crisis is at the center of our state’s biggest challenges – with our children and our most vulnerable bearing the brunt of sky-high costs and a severe shortage of housing inventory. Thankfully, Governor Newsom and our legislative leaders are taking bold action to address this shortage with a smart, targeted housing packing that will allow our communities to grow with inclusion and expand the dream of home ownership and housing stability to people across California.”

“Senate Bills 8, 9 and 10 will give California and its cities new tools to build housing that enhances communities and expands opportunities for working families,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “Together, they will increase housing options for middle- and working-class Californians while slowing the rate of rent hikes as supply grows. I am grateful to Governor Newsom and our legislative leaders for their steadfast commitment to tackling the state’s housing-affordability crisis.”

Governor Newsom also signed AB 1174, by Assemblymember 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,” said President and CEO of the California Building Industry Association Dan Dunmoyer. “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. I am grateful to Governor Newsom and legislative leaders for their courage to enact policies that support the construction of low- and middle-income homes with the goal of providing attainable, secure housing for all.”

Another pillar of Governor Newsom’s housing agenda is housing accountability for local governments. Governor Newsom this week 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 to defend this critical tool for holding local governments accountable for doing their part to increase housing supply. 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.

During his first month in office, Governor Newsom approved first-of-its-kind legal action against a city for standing in the way of affordable housing production and refusing to meet regional housing needs. In his 2019 State of the State Address, the Governor called for expedited CEQA review to include housing, as under legislation he signed earlier this year to allow smaller housing projects to qualify for streamlining.


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