California introduces 15 new housing laws

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The 15 new affordable housing bills introduced last month should get new affordable housing construction projects underway.

■ By Matt McPherson / Columnist

This last month California received 90 new laws in just four days. Many of these new laws will affect the real estate and housing industries. Gov. Jerry Brown took part in a controversial signing of 15 new laws that make up a legislative package which will help increase the state’s affordable housing supply. The signing took place at Hunter’s View, an affordable housing project in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point.
“This package has everything from A to Z – affordability to zoning,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount). “It’s not a magic wand, but it is going to put a lot of drafting tools, backhoes, hammers, and door keys to work. I’m proud of how the Assembly helped shape this package and of the real results it will deliver for Californians.”
The 15 housing bills that were signed Friday, along with a brief synopsis from the governor’s office, include:

1) SB 2 (Atkins, D-San Diego), the Building Homes and Jobs Act establishes a permanent funding source for affordable housing through a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents. The fee is capped at $225 per transaction and exempts real estate sales and is expected to generate roughly $250 million a year, which would be split among state and local housing programs.

2) SB 3 (Beall, D-San Jose) authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for affordable housing programs and a veteran’s home ownership program. SB 3 must be approved by voters next November.

3) SB 35 (Wiener, D-San Francisco) streamlines the approval process for infill developments in local communities that have failed to meet regional housing needs.

4) SB 166 (Skinner, D-Berkeley) ensures that cities maintain an ongoing supply of housing construction sites for residents of various income levels.

5) SB 167 (Skinner, D-Berkeley) increases the standard of proof required for a local government to justify a denial of low and moderate-income housing development projects. (SB 167 is identical to AB 678.)

6) SB 540 (Roth, D-Riverside) streamlines the environmental review process for certain local affordable housing projects.

7) AB 72 (Santiago, D-53/Chiu, D-17) strengthens the state’s ability to enforce laws that require local governments to achieve housing goals.

8) AB 73 (Chiu, D-17) gives local governments incentives to create housing on infill sites near public transportation.

9) AB 571 (E. Garcia, D-56) makes it easier to develop farmworker housing by easing qualifications for the Farmworker Housing Tax Credit.

10) AB 678 (Bocanegra, D-39) increases the standard of proof required for a local government to justify its denial of low- to moderate-income housing development projects. (AB 678 is identical to SB 167.)

11) AB 879 (Grayson, D-14) authorizes a study of local fees charged to new residential developments that will also include a proposal to substantially reduce such fees.

12) AB 1397 (Low, D-28) makes changes to the definition of land suitable for residential development to increase the number of sites where new multifamily housing can be built.

13) AB 1505 (Bloom, D-50/Bradford, D-Gardena/Chiu, D-17/Gloria, D-78) authorizes cities and counties to adopt an inclusionary ordinance for residential rental units in order to create affordable housing.

14) AB 1515 (Daly, D-69) allows housing projects to be afforded the protections of the Housing Accountability Act if the project is consistent with local planning rules despite local opposition.

15) AB 1521 (Bloom, D-50/Chiu, D-17) gives experienced housing organizations a first right of refusal to purchase affordable housing developments in order to keep the units affordable.

Many real estate investors and developers remain skeptical of the new laws and wonder if they will hurt the recently booming real estate market throughout California. However, some of the laws will cut through red tape for new construction and developments that many feel will be a huge stimulus to the construction industry.
“These new laws will help cut red tape and encourage more affordable housing, including shelter for the growing number of homeless in California,” stated Brown.

Matt McPherson is a licensed real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Associated Brokers, BRE # 01362837. Reach him at or 951-315-7914.

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