Proposed legislation would give cities fewer excuses for blocking housing

By Josh Stephens, CP&DR, March 8, 2021

“This year’s housing-related bills — which number in the hundreds — focus largely on the nuances of how localities can meet the state’s [RHNA targets].

“The highest profile bills comprise a Senate package designed to ‘empower homeowners who want to help solve the crisis, provides more land-use tools and flexibility to meet the needs of local governments and community partners, and streamlines procedural hurdles.’

“A handful of bills encourage cities to permit housing in areas currently zoned for commercial use.

“The broadest of the bills, SB 6, would require all jurisdictions to allow for residential development in commercially zoned areas; it would include malls and big box stores, many of which are in dire financial straits.

“Arguably the most dramatic changes could come in relatively low-density neighborhoods currently zoned for single-family houses. … SB 9 would [eliminate single-family zoning] statewide, allowing duplexes (paywall) on every parcel currently zoned for only one house. With a focus on social justice, AB 1322 takes aim at specific cities: charter cities in which more than 90% of the city’s residential land is zoned for single-family homes or there is a significant degree of segregation based on race or poverty. It would prohibit those cities from enforcing single-family zoning.

Many other bills focus on aspects of the housing crisis other than zoning. For example, “AB 68 would compel the state to reform its affordable housing programs in response to a damning audit last year finding that the state squandered $2.7 billion in affordable housing funds.”

“Finally, two bills would create ballot measures to indirectly increase production of affordable housing … [including a repeal of] what is often considered a racist component of the California Constitution that currently requires local voter approval for development of affordable housing.”

Read the full article here, including brief synopses of a selection of significant housing bills. (~9 min., paywall)

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