The Legislature continued its efforts to stimulate housing production and preservation for households at all income levels this session, with a number of key bills that originated as part of the CASA Compact voted out of their house of origin for consideration by the other house. The Legislature now turns its attention to passing the state budget by June 15.

Housing Inclusion and Capacity

AB 68, authored by Assemblymembers Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), and AB 69, authored by Assemb. Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), are designed to make it easier for homeowners to develop accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on their properties. If passed in the Senate and signed by the governor, AB 68 would require ministerial approval of permits to build ADUs in single-family and multi-family residential zones and create enforcement provisions for non-compliance. The bill would also prevent local ordinances from limiting ADUs based on a minimum lot size, setting maximum ADU sizes of less than 800 square feet and 16 feet high, or requiring replacement parking, among other provisions. AB 69 would codify best practices in small home innovations by requiring the Department of Housing and Community Development to propose and submit ADU, junior ADU, and small home building standards to the California Building Standards Commission before January 1, 2021.

Several bills would establish statewide standards for development entitlement and permitting, including greater transparency within the application and entitlement process. AB 1483, authored by Assemb. Tim Grayson (D-Concord), would enhance policymaking decisions by improving the coordination, standardization, and dissemination of housing data from local jurisdictions. If passed, the law would require jurisdictions to make fee schedules, ordinances, and development standards available on its website and annually to the Department of Housing and Community Development and applicable metropolitan planning organizations. HCD would be required to develop data protocols and collect, integrate, and disseminate all collected nonpersonal housing data, including parcel-level housing data, via a data portal by January 21, 2023. AB 1484, also authored by Assemb. Grayson, would require cities and counties to post development fees imposed on housing projects on their websites.

The Housing Crisis Act of 2019 (SB 330), authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-East Bay), would restrict certain development standards for up to five years. Specifically, the bill would prohibit specific cities and counties from imposing or increasing parking requirements or charging fees in lieu of compliance with a housing development ordinance. The bill also would require cities and counties to allow projects that would have been eligible at a higher density but approved at a lower density under a conditional use permit to be built at the higher density, and any development project that requires the demolition of residential property would need to meet specific conditions. The bill also makes temporary amendments to the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) and Permit Streamlining Act, and would require local agencies to delay enforcement of non-health and safety code violations.

SB 50, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), will be held until 2020. The bill, which would allow for upzoning near major transit stops, will need to address concerns from cities and counties, as well as affordable housing and homelessness advocates, tenant protection groups, and social and environmental justice organizations.

Approval Process and Timeline

AB 1485, authored by Assemb. Wicks, would allow housing developers to submit applications for “by right” approval in jurisdictions that have not met their regional housing needs assessment (RHNA) goals for above-moderate-income housing. Developments would need to dedicate 20% of the units to households earning below 120% of the area median income (AMI) with an average income at or below 100% AMI. Rents on the dedicated units would be capped at 20% below the county’s fair market rent for households earning 80-120% AMI.

Authored by Assemb. Ting, if passed AB 1486 would redefine surplus land as “land that is in excess of its foreseeable needs or is not necessary for the agency’s governmental operations” and expand requirements related to its use with an emphasis on increasing the supply of land available for housing. Key provisions include modifying requirements for negotiating the sale of the land and prioritizing residential use with the highest levels of affordability. The bill would require local agencies to inventory surplus land in urbanized areas on an annual basis and report its findings to HCD, which would make the list available on its website. When preparing their Housing Elements, cities and counties would be required to disclose any plans to dispose of any non-vacant sites during the planning period.

Regional Coordination and Financing

AB 1487, authored by Assemb. David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and known as San Francisco Bay Area Regional Housing Finance Act, would authorize and establish the Housing Alliance for the Bay Area (Alliance) with responsibility for providing regional funding and technical assistance to increase affordable housing. The measure would allow the Alliance to generate revenue through special taxes, bonds, and commercial linkage fees to fund affordable housing production and preservation, as well as tenant protection programs. If passed, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission would need to propose a ballot measure to establish the authorized funding mechanisms.

Tenant Protections

Several bills proposed this session are also aimed to protect tenants against rising rents and evictions, but key provisions were eliminated. If passed, AB 1482, authored by Assemb. Chiu, would prevent residential landlords from annual rent increases in excess of the percent change in the Consumer Price Index plus 5% to a maximum of 10%. Deed-restricted affordable housing, dormitories, and housing subject to local ordinance that impose a more restrictive cap would be exempt from these provisions. AB 1481, authored by Assembs. Tim Grayson and Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) to prohibit landlords from terminating tenancies of six months or more without just cause, failed to gain enough votes to pass the full Assembly.

The Keep Californians Housed Act (SB 18), authored by Sen. Skinner, would make permanent a currently time-limited law requiring landlords to provide a 90-day notice to tenants on foreclosed properties so that they can avoid eviction.  Amendments made in the Senate Appropriations Committee eliminated requirements to publish a landlord-tenant guide and provide funding for rental assistance and legal counsel.

State Budget

Now that the major deadline to vote bills out of their houses of origin has passed, the Legislature is now focused on working with Gov. Newsom to finalize a balanced state budget, which must pass by June 15 in advance of the new fiscal year that starts July 1. The May Revision proposes $1.75 billion in funding to increase housing production, including $500 million for the removal of barriers to affordable housing and rental assistance, up to $500 million to expand the tax credit program, $20 million for eviction prevention, and $2.5 million for housing demonstration projects. The May Revision also proposes $1 billion in funding to address homelessness, including $650 million for emergency aid, $150 million for public mental health systems, and $120 million to expand Whole Person Care pilots, as well as funding for SSI advocacy and Rapid Re-Housing for UC and CSU students.