' Density and Land Use/Zoning Game-Changer: Gov. Brown Signs Package Of Bills Incl. SB 35 That Promote And Incentivize Developer-Desired Multi-Unit Residential-Component Projects, Reduce Or Eliminate Grounds For Public Objections, City Denials '

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Density and Land Use/Zoning Game-Changer: Gov. Brown Signs Package Of Bills Incl. SB 35 That Promote And Incentivize Developer-Desired Multi-Unit Residential-Component Projects, Reduce Or Eliminate Grounds For Public Objections, City Denials

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(Sept 29, 2017, 5:55 p.m.) -- As carried LIVE and now available on-demand on LBREPORT.com, a ceremony called "historic" by its participants was held today (Sept. 29) at Hunter's Point (a historically struggling working class area SE of downtown San Francisco) where Governor Brown signed SB 35 and a package of housing-related bills (SB 2, SB 3, SB 166, SB 167, SB 540, AB 72, AB 73, AB 571, AB 678, AB 879, AB 1397, AB 1505, AB 1515, AB 1521.)

For on-demand video of the event, click the embedded icon below or this link.

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Overall, the package of bills makes it easier for developers to gain approval to build multi-unit housing and incentivizes below-market "affordable housing." Some of the bills -- SB 35 in particular -- deem inapplicable (with some exceptions) CA Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements for an environmental (neighborhood) impact report that includes feasible measures to mitigate significant impacts for developer-desired projects containing residential components. In some cases, cities (including Long Beach) will be prevented from denying approval to such proposed projects.

The net effect of SB 35 -- which LBREPORT.com has reported in detail for weeks -- amplifies the neighborhood impacts of upcoming City Council decisions on city-staff proposed increased density maps land use maps...since decisions on those maps can no longer be viewed in isolation but must now be viewed in the context of the game-changing state laws.

SB 35 -- linked here applies in cities (like Long Beach) that can't currently show they've produced building permits ("goals" are no longer sufficient) for new housing in numbers that satisfy a regional government body ("So. Cal. Ass'n of Gov'ts" or SCAG.) For projects within several income levels, SB 35 creates a "streamlined" process that makes it harder and in some cases eliminates entirely the public's ability to challenge or oppose such projects, and in some cases prevents cities from from saying "no" to such projects.



Other bills in the "housing package" include:

  • SB 166 by State Senator Debra Skinner (D, Berkeley) requires cities to maintain an ongoing of sites to construct housing, including low income housing and SB 167 by Senator Skinner makes it harder for a city to justify denying approval for low and moderate income housing. Senator Skinner hurled the neighborhood-resident disparaging epithet "NIMBY" in her podium remarks, and in the Governor's release declared, "My bills, SB 166 and 167, tackle the 'Not in My Backyard' obstacles that too often keep needed housing from being built."

  • SB 540 by state Senator Richard Roth (D, Riverside) lets cities create "Workforce Housing Opportunity Zones" in which projects avoid project level EIRs and use only a one-time single EIR for all projects if the zone includes at least 100 and up to 1,500 dwelling units and meets certain criteria including no more than 50% of its units sold or rented to persons above moderate income levels.

  • AB 72 by Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago (D, Los Angeles) and David Chiu (D, San Francisco) strengthens Sac'to's ability to require local governments to meet their stated "housing goals."

  • AB 73 by Assemblyman Chiu eliminates project level CEQA review and provides local governments with incentives to use "infill" sites for housing near public transportation (which it defines as located within one-half mile of public transit or in an area, by virtue of existing infrastructure, transportation access, existing "underutilized" facilities, or location, making it highly suitable for a residential or mixed-use or housing sustainability district.

  • AB 1397 by Assemblyman Evan Low (D, Campbell) changes the definition of land suitable for residential development to increase the number of sites where new multifamily housing can be built.

  • AB 1505 (Bloom/Bradford/Chiu/Gloria) authorizes cities and counties to adopt an inclusionary ordinance for residential rental units that requires, as a condition to develop residential units, that the development include a certain percentage of residential rental units affordable to, and occupied by, households with incomes that don't exceed specified limits for moderate-income, lower-income, very low-income, or extremely low-income households.

  • AB 1515 by Assemblyman Tom Daly, D, Anaheim) makes it easier for developers to use the current "Housing Accountability Act" to gain city approval for their proposed housing project, regardless of local opposition, if it's consistent with City Hall enacted local planning rules. "The Housing Accountability Act fosters and respects responsible local control by providing certainty to all stakeholders in the local approval process, and preventing NIMBYism from pressuring local officials into rejecting or downsizing compliant housing projects," said Assemblyman Daly


Multiple cities opposed SB 35, but despite a LB City Council declared policy to oppose legislation threatening "local control," the City of LB remained neutral as SB 35 advanced to passage. SB 35 received "yes" votes from LB area state Senators Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park), Janet Nguyen (R, SE LB-west OC) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D, NLB-Lakewood-Paramount.) Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D, LB-SP) announced his opposition a little over a week before the Assembly vote and was among a handful of Dems to vote "no."

The state Senate's legislative analysis of SB 35 can be viewed here and pages 8-12 include a list of the bill's supporters and opposition.

"This package has everything from A to Z -- affordability to zoning," said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who represents part of LB (NLB-Lakewood-Paramount.) "Itís 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 Governor's release quotes Robbie Hunter, president of the politically active State Building and Construction Trades Council, as saying: "These bills will streamline decision-making and the environmental review process, thereby reducing costs, and they will add billions of dollars for new, much-needed affordable housing." Among those present at the signing ceremony and praising the package of bills was Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The Governor's signing ceremony was MC'd by the developer of a new "mixed use" (commercial + residential) development on the Hunter's Point site built with assistance from what the Governor's release called "federal, state and private partners" to replace a 1950's era low-income housing project.

One of the measures in the package, SB 3, is a proposed statewide debt-bond that would use public money to help fund "affordable housing" and a veterans' home ownership program; it requires voter approval in November 2018.

Several speakers during the signing ceremony indicated these bills are just the beginning of additional likeminded housing legislation they favor enacting in 2018.

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