Northern News


A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

Making great communities happen

SB 50/SB 4 compromise summary

California’s SB50, the MoreHomes Act, changed a bit after merging with SB4 in the Governance & Finance Committee. The flowchart explains how different places may or may not be affected. (Created and tweeted by Alfred Twu, Berkeley artist and activist, who thanked Liam Dillon for excellent reporting and Annie Fryman for details.)

By Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times. April 24, 2019.

SB 50 will be amended to do all of the below. SB 4 will be held in committee.

Statewide provisions:

  • Sensitive communities agreement with housing advocates:
    • Include at a minimum those areas: designated high segregation and poverty and low-resource in TCAC opportunity maps; top 25% Cal EnviroScreen scores; 2019 HUD qualified census tracts; potentially others
    • COGs run process to identify sensitive communities with minimum requirements for outreach to disadvantaged populations
    • Opt in before July 1, 2025 to planning process based on petition with 20% population in census tract signing and specified outreach requirements
  • Changes to ensure offsite affordable housing is actually built: no certificate of occupancy on market rate without building permit, and has to be near transit and within half mile of original project site.
  • Technical amendments to clarify how density bonus works.
  • Commitment to include inclusionary percentages that are worked out with housing advocates and agreeable to SGF committee.
  • Creation of fourplexes by right (regardless of jurisdiction population) in residential areas on vacant land and allows conversions of existing structure—but no demolition, as follows:
    • 75% of exterior walls must be intact and no more than +15% increase square footage. Also has to abide by all other local regulations (setbacks, lot coverage, FAR, height, etc).
    • Must include SB 35 limitations on eligible parcels.
  • Exempt very high fire hazard severity zones.
  • Exempt coastal zone in cities with populations less than 50,000.
  • Restrict bill to infill parcels in coastal zone regardless of jurisdiction size.

In counties over 600,000 population:

  • SB 50 zoning provisions regarding rail, ferry, job rich, and bus stop (as modified below):
    • Exempt contributing parcels in legislatively-adopted historic districts in existence as of 2010, and density bonus language going forward
    • Bus stops: Shorten headways to 10 minutes during peak times to qualify. Clarify that it’s each line going in each direction. Must have met the headway standard for the past 5 years.
  • SB 50 parking (no parking around rail, 0.5 spaces per unit minimum elsewhere)

In counties 600,000 population or less, modify equitable communities incentive to:

  • Grant waiver from density (with minimum of 30 units/acre in urban jurisdictions and 20/units acre in suburban jurisdictions, as defined in existing law), height limits of zoning on the parcel plus one story, and floor area ratio of 0.6 times the # of stories for projects within half-mile around rail/ferry in cities over 50,000
  • Continue to work with Senate EQ on identifying a definition of “infill” that doesn’t induce sprawl.
  • Exempt floodplains per SB4
  • SB 4 parking applies: no parking minimum within ¼ mile of rail in cities over 100,000, 0.5 spaces per unit minimum elsewhere