By William Fulton, CP&DR, February 8, 2021
“A clever developer from Los Angeles has figured out how to use SB 35 — along with low-income housing tax credits and density bonuses — to make ministerial review of an affordable housing project work in a community that’s located in an affluent county — but already has lots of affordable housing. And key to making the project work was not just SB 35, but also AB 1763, a 2019 bill that gave affordable housing developers way more leverage over local governments.
“The site is just about one acre in size and was subject to a planned development multi-family residential zoning designation that would have limited the project to 34 units and a land-use designation of about 40 units per acre.
“Using AB 1763, the developer, AMG, got the unit count up to 74. (That’s 40.1 units per acre times 1.01 acres times 1.8 density bonus.)
“AMG took advantage of another provision of the density bonus law… asking for waivers from two of Marin County’s development standards: a requirement to provide 5,000 square feet of open space and a requirement to provide one bicycle parking space for every two units.
“So in the end, using SB 35 [and] AB 1763 in tandem on a 100 percent affordable project, AMG got to build twice as many units as otherwise permitted, in a building almost twice as tall as would otherwise be permitted, with very little parking, no tree canopy in the parking lot, no open space, and no bike parking. And because SB 35 was invoked, there wasn’t anything Marin County could do about all this. No wonder Tom Lai, Marin County’s community development director, expressed a fair amount of frustration (paywall) to our Sarah Klearman about the whole process.”